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Challenge: Back to School 2020

The pink mints

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The Pink Mints

OK, so it is day three of this new and interesting school year. My kids are learning from home. Also known as remote or virtual learning. Something about that sounds very futuristic to me! And to be honest, it really is pretty Jetsons-esque. The fact that there is a way to maintain a structured learning environment through the computer is pretty cool. As much as technology adds a whole lot of stress to all of our lives on a normal basis, we have to be a little bit thankful of this! Imagine a global pandemic without computers, cell phones, streaming, the Internet and all of that! I mean, literally my daughter spends the first 4 hours of her day with her teacher and 25 other kids sitting alone in my basement. And amazingly, she comes upstairs just as tired and hungry as she used to come off the bus!

But really, this article isn’t about all of the pluses and minuses of this year. Because let’s face it that wouldn’t be a quick and easy-read blog post. That would be more like a 5,000-page dissertation. And no one has time or patience for that!

This article is about a little pink mint! Weird? Maybe! But this is why. So as I mentioned, my daughter is virtual learning. This means that she doesn’t have a teacher from her regular school. She has a teacher from another school in our district. This other school that her teacher is from, just happens to be from the school in our town, that I too, only attended for third grade! This might not sound all that funny or interesting. But, we live in a town with 5 elementary schools that have had their grades switched around 100 times between the time that I went to school and my kids are in school. So I found this a little funny. And well, also, we have been stuck home for months with very little human interaction — so my expectations of funny things might have changed slightly.

OK, so when I went to this school for just third grade — I happened to have loved my teacher. It wasn’t my best year in school. It was the year I got in trouble for talking every day and had the messiest desk ever, but somehow, my teacher made a lasting impression on me.

I remember her being so real and honest and easy to listen to. I also remember, very clearly, a jar of pink mints she kept on her desk. They were nothing special, but somehow these little pink mints became a hot commodity in our class. They were a reward for good behavior, good grades, for not talking for a whole subject and more! I remember coming home and telling my parents they had to find these pink mints. For some reason I don’t think they ever got them! But needless to say, I don’t remember all that many details of my life as an 8-year-old third grader…but somehow the memory of these mints and this teacher made the cut.

OK, so to bring us back to 2020. I spent the last few months over-thinking and over-stressing about the space that my kids would learn in this year. Stressing about them getting enough out of this year of education by learning this way. Will they feel weird or left out? Will I be able to motivate them enough? Blah Blah Blah.

My

So, the long awaited day one comes! It was amazing, the teachers impressed me, the organization surprised me and the amount of kids that also chose to learn in this way made me more confident.

Besides the desk, chair and computer… nothing about my over-thought-out and overly decorated space around them was needed. And well, we all survived.

At the end of the day I was a combo of exhausted and proud of my kids for getting through it. My first reaction was to tell them they could each pick out 2 “things” as a prize. So they did and they were really happy about their picks. That happiness lasted approximately 5 minutes. My daughter was then quick to ask what reward she would get the next day or week or month for doing well with virtual learning.

This prompted me to tell her all about the little pink mints.

To my surprise, she got just as excited about them as I was. I don’t know if it was because they were linked to this elaborate story by me. Or if she was just appeasing me because I seemed so happy about them. Or, because she thought it was so cool that my teacher was allowed to give us mints "back in the day."

But, I went with it. Thanks to my close friend, Amazon, they arrived today.

Guess what? Today my daughter earned a pink mint after a successful day 3.

She talked about it non-stop for the rest of the night.

What’s the moral of the story? The same one it always is. Keep it simple. Don’t overthink it. Sometimes the silliest things leave the most lasting impressions.

And … buy the pink mints. It’s worth a try!

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