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Challenge: Back to School 2021

Masks aren't being mandated, but grace is

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I sit here,

just about a week out from my three kids returning to their brick and mortar school campus for what will be

my oldest's last year of elementary school,

my middle's second-grade year

and my newly-appointed Kindergartner's first,

recalling how those three insanely adept and adaptable kids of mine successfully schooled from home for the past year and a half no freakin' thanks to this unrelenting pandemic.

A pandemic that was, at one point, dissipating, but now seems to be spreading more rapidly as the new Delta variant breakthrough is taking closer aim at the already vaccinated and, now, sadly, more than before, the yet-to-be vaccinated kids.

Your kids and my kids.

As a mom, I'm fully clued into my kids' needs. And my kids, for their mental and emotional health, and, yeah, even for their physical health, they need to be

out of our home,

out and about,

around other kids


Real school.

Face-to-face school.

Even if shoulder-to-shoulder with their classmates is now 6 ft. apart.

Even if community water fountains are no longer a thing.

Even if they now have assigned seats so contact tracing is easier.

Even if I might get "that call" from school informing me my child must quarantine due to close contact.

Even if my kid is masked up (which each damn well will be).

Even if this school year looks and feels



and different.

Even if. Even when. Even then.

While it looks like my mind will not be put at ease with a county-established, school-board-backed mask mandate for kids in elementary schools, here's what I'm mandating for this upcoming school year:

Grace for each other -- teachers, students, admins, and parents alike;

patience with operations and, yes, each other;

understanding that each of us is gonna get some of this wrong;

kindness towards the unkind 'cause usually, if someone's being a Richard, they're facing some challenges and being nice on this day is undoubtedly one of them;

non-judgment in situations where judgment comes as quickly as a toddler who was just told he could have ice cream;


hope that one day, not too far off from now, we can go back to living and schooling without so much fear.

You know, this fall, some parents are going to send their kids to school even when little Johnny has a slight cough, which doesn't make them selfish or dangerous.

Other parents will keep Sally home from school for a similar cough, and that doesn't make them overdramatic and scaredy-cats.

Some teachers will come at this year and attack it with the same zestful and fabulously zany passion they have every teaching year before.

Other teachers are gonna enter the school year feeling defeated and trepidacious that this year will simply be a repeat of the crazy, stress-inducing, hard-on-the-heart headache of a year that was the one prior.

Some admins will take solid stances and stick like gorilla glue to the expert-backed rules.

Others will ebb and flow their stances and bend the rules as they see fit as this covid game and the guidance continues to rapidly change.

I sit here and think about how hard this has, is, and will continue to be on all of us

-- kids, students, teachers, admins, and parents --

and all I know for damn sure is that we're way better as a team than as opponents.

So let's promise each other this...

When sh*t hits the fan, and it will, we won't blame each other.

Instead, we'll work together to

find the fan's turn off,

clean up the mess

and get everything working correctly again.

That's where we make our mark.

That's where we thrive.

When we come together in the name of children because of our love for them, we are showing them how a little love, support, and cooperation can help clean up (or at least make tolerable) even the biggest of messes.

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