It was cold and grey this morning as we stood in the driveway, waiting. My little girls had been counting down for this moment, giggling as they looked down the road, waiting for the long line of cars to turn our direction. I can’t think of a parade they’ve ever been more excited to see.
It has now been two-and-a-half weeks since I picked my girls up from school and told them the governor closed schools for (at the time) one week. Their response almost caught me off guard. I thought they would eagerly ask about all of the things we might do. There was no applause or cheer, just a quiet sadness followed by questions. “But when will I see my friends? I’m going to miss my teacher, mom.” My heart was torn between gratitude and sadness. I was so thankful they spent their days in a place with people they loved so much, yet I knew this shut down would be much longer than a week. As we pulled out of the school parking lot, the tears streamed down my face. My mind was overcome with worry for the students who relied on school, whether it be for the meals or for a safe, warm place. Seeing the way my own children reacted to the news gave me a new perspective of how vital this place and its people are. If my own were going to miss school this much, what must it be like for others.
So today, as I stood in the driveway, the tears started to form at just the thought of the staff taking the time to spend three hours driving through the community. Three hours. We are part of a huge school. I kept thinking about the other families who were standing on their streets, knowing they were probably as excited as we were. Did the teachers realize just how special this was to so many children? Did they realize that even just a wave from them meant more than any celebrity meet-and-greet we have ever had?
When we saw the cars finally turn onto our road, the tears started to fall. There were so many more cars than I was expecting, and my daughters were so excited at the thought of finally seeing the teachers they love so much. These teachers had to change the way they have always taught, and they had to do it literally overnight. These teachers have lesson plans to type and parents to respond to. Now we are past the point of review and they are navigating ways to find new methods to teach new material to students who aren’t on the same playing field. They must figure out who can access online content and who can’t. They have to prep paper packets and decide how to get it to families. They have adjusted their lives to be available for 24 families and not just during school hours. They each have 24 students (give or take a few) which means they have 24 families they are worried about. They are fully aware that the students they love are trying to learn new material on top of the stress in their home lives. They understand that parents have lost jobs – or if they are lucky – trying to work from home or work their shift then come home to help with schoolwork. They know exactly the way their students absorb the stress from home, they’ve seen it their entire career. Now the students they love are being thrown into a situation like none of us have ever experienced. So, on top of the infinite list of things they needed to get done on this Friday morning, they were spending three hours of time they didn’t have to remind their students how much they love them. I love them so much for it.
The other day, as we were in the midst of something which I can’t even remember, my kindergartner blurted out, “But I didn’t get to show my friends I lost my tooth!” It was completely out of nowhere, but it obviously had been on her mind. While I worried about an incredibly long list of worries I’ve never had to worry about in our pre-pandemic life, this was what she was worried about. I love that it was important to her and I know for a fact her teacher would’ve made her feel so very special when she shared her news. I love how much she missed her teacher and friends.
Today the teachers brought us comfort. They brought us the familiarity and safety we miss now more than ever. Today they brought us a hope for a better tomorrow, reminding us there will be a better tomorrow. They brought us all together. Teachers, thank you. We can’t wait to see you soon.