Black & White Daylily Stamen

Yesterday was probably the most bizarre first day of school I’ve ever seen. It was weird enough having BG at home, but the weather felt like a cold Halloween night, making everything feel completely out of sync.

We shattered previous records by something like 10 degrees. No, 56 isn’t exactly cold, but for a high temp during the first part of September and the day after hitting near 90, it felt frigid. I threatened to turn the heat on last night (didn’t, but came damn close.) I don’t know that I’ve ever turned the heat on this close to the beginning of September. The very end of the month, maybe, but not anywhere near the beginning.

Today isn’t going to be any warmer and it is rainy and dreary on top of it. That isn’t very conducive to motivating me to do anything other than snuggle down with a book and a pot of coffee.

Bumpy Beginning

I really didn’t expect things to go smoothly when school started this year. It doesn’t normally, so why would I expect this year to be better than normal? The fact that it has not, in fact, started smoothly shouldn’t be a surprise.

Today is the first day of BG’s junior year. She is going to be doing it all online for at least this first semester. As of today, she still has one class that is wrong (both the teacher of the correct class and the counselor are working to correct the issue) and a class that she has gotten zero communication from. All of her other classes, the teachers have sent emails and links to the online classrooms they are using, so we have no clue what is up with the one.

The messed up class is tied to BG’s mentoring program. She has to be in that class to be in the program. This particular piece has been so weird because the program is designed around interacting in person with the Freshman specifically so they are still scrambling to try and figure out what that looks like for their online learners. She still doesn’t know what she is going to be doing with that.

Considering everything going on, I really can’t complain too much. It is going to be really interesting to see how well all of this plays out moving forward. It is going to be a very weird year.

 

Reconciling Choices

It is nearly impossible to be a parent of school age children, even those in college, and not be dealing with all the tough choices and situations facing us right now with back to school looming.

I thought that everything was made easier for me when BG’s school district allowed for an online only option for students. I was relieved. I wasn’t being forced into a position where the only option was to send her to an in person classroom environment or to try and figure out an alternative on my own.

Sadly, it really isn’t that easy.

There is a chance, potentially a big chance, that by going the online only route, some of BG’s higher level classes won’t be available to her and she will be forced to take other classes. I seriously doubt there are going to be many options to work her classes in a way that would meet her high school goals if those aren’t available. It was hard enough to make her schedule work in normal years and this is so far from normal.

Then add in the fact that she was supposed to be a part of the mentoring program this year, something that I don’t know if she can still be a part of if she is going the online route. We still haven’t heard anything on that front yet.

Another stressor, at least for me, is dance. It was such a relief to get past recital and feel like we were finally done with it, but we aren’t. Enrollment starts soon and dance isn’t being offered online at this point. It is in person only. This is not a required activity, but it is BG’s only real social interaction and where her group of friends exist rather than at school.

This is problematic on many levels. I’ve already seen the lax attitude towards some safety guidelines, especially surrounding masks. That gets amplified because the studio isn’t just attended by students from a single school or even district. If I had to count the districts and schools I’m already aware of (and I know I don’t know them all), there are at least 4 different districts and possibly upwards of at least 6 individual schools represented just in BG’s main class alone. That doesn’t even begin to account for all the lower level grade schools for the classes she assists.

Deciding how she is going to move forward with both school and dance is such a struggle for me as a parent. There are so many factors involved and things to consider. Seeing experts saying that the virus is airborne but not seeing practices and policies that fit that reality makes it even harder to make those decisions.

I say all of this as a parent, but I cannot imagine being in the position of a teacher at this point. As a parent, I’m only trying to make decisions that protect my children and in turn the rest of our family to the best of my ability. Teachers are being asked to make so many, even more complex decisions.

Go to work and potentially bring home the virus to your own children and family or even take it to work and spread it to your students. Or just as awful an option, do what you may feel is right to protect your own family from the virus and not work, but then not have the money to protect them in other ways.

I saw something written by a teacher (sorry, I don’t have the link for that one) where they said they were not only expected to take a bullet for their students, but were now being asked to bring that bullet home and aim it at their families.

Our teachers are already tasked with so many roles outside of just being an educator, but we continually ask them to take on more and more roles. It seems that each one is just more difficult, even more dangerous, than the last. This situation just shines a neon spotlight on that fact.

As a parent, you have to think about all of those aspects and filter them down into something you can work with to make the right choices for you children, but there isn’t a lot of consistent information to help you filter it down.

And in the middle of trying to filter all of that, I hear how a friend of MC went to a graduation party where someone had later tested positive. Said friend had also had a test done, but only because their boss required it (they work in a restaurant) and even then this person was still going about their day as if nothing had happened, interacting with people all before they even got the results back from their test.

This is followed shortly after by finding out that a coworker of Hubby’s (they are all still on a work from home mandate, thankfully!!) has been in quarantine for almost 2 weeks because his kids’ daycare was shutdown after an outbreak. Let me repeat that. A place specifically for young children was shut down because of an outbreak.

But we are STILL trying to force in person classes. What are parents and teachers supposed to do with all that information when none of it fits together in any kind of rational manner?!

One of the most driving forces in being a parent is to protect our children to the best of our ability. Right now, it feels like we are being forced to do the exact opposite.

I am grateful that BG will be able to do her classes online, at least for her first semester. I hate that she may not be able to get the classes she really wants because of that, but in the balance of things, I’ll take that little loss. I have a lot of thinking to do about dance because that is a very different beast, one that falls squarely in the mental wellness category for her.

I am also being forced to consider asking MC to not come home from college as he wants in an effort to keep everyone safe. How do you tell your child who is leaving to go to college for the first time to not come home when you live 20 minutes away? All because The Powers That BE demanded he live on campus and attend some in person classes.

To say that there is a whole lot of frustration and anger tied up in this is the understatement of the century.

 

 

Surreal Back To School Mode

Things are starting to enter back to school mode around here even though I’m still not certain what exactly that is going to look like yet.

MC will be moving into a dorm in about a month, barring any changes that are still incredibly likely. Because of his dorm set up, there is actually very little he is going to need. It will be almost like packing for vacation instead of him actually moving out. That is also in part because he will only be 20 minutes from home and it is easy enough for him to run by and grab something if he needs it. It really isn’t anything at all like I expected him going off to college would be like.

We found out that over half of his classes will be online and the other half will be a blend of online and in person with the in person portion being limited. Even with that set up, he is still required to live on campus.

It is hard enough to see your kid off to college for the first time, but dumping that together with the current mess with the pandemic and I know I’m going to be a stressed out mess over the next several weeks. I just started breathing easier after the recital stress, so I’m not a complete mess just yet, but that reprieve isn’t going to last long.

There still isn’t a solid plan yet for BG’s school. The one thing that has been decided is that if they opt for in person or blended online and in person classes, students can opt out of in person and do online only. That was such a massive relief to me to know that she wouldn’t be forced to physically go to school.

She has some concerns about potentially missing out on important information in her AP or higher level classes if they have in person classes, that a teacher would fail to pass on the same info to the online students as was shared during a physical class. Even with that concern, she is solid in her stance on doing online.

The online option for her means I don’t have to make another dozen or so masks to get her through a school week. I do have to make a bunch for MC as he has left the house maybe 3 or 4 times since March and only has 1.

This is the oddest back to school season. I knew it would be anyway because of MC heading to college and not high school, but… yeah.

It’s doubtful that once we hit the point where they are both in school that my stress levels are going to drop. Having MC going back and forth from school to home could be a problem. Not by increasing his exposure, but by increasing BG’s, Hubby’s, and mine. That and I’m going to be normal-worried-mom times a thousand the second he is dropped off.

I’m not sure how we are going to work all the logistics of this yet. At this point, I’m still certain that something major is going to change between now and then.

The one worry I don’t have at the moment is with Hubby. He is still on an indefinite work from home order that will most likely last until at least the end of this year. I’ll take whatever wins I can get at this point.

 

 

So Many Changes

Today is our first day of a completely new normal.

Over the weekend, our mayor put our city on a shelter-in-place order, so all non-essential business are shut down. We were already pretty much treating it like that, so it won’t be a massive change for us, though I’ve heard/seen a lot of people complaining or stressing over this order. For us, we are just going to keep doing what we have been and doing our best to not be a part of the problem.

The kids are starting to learn their new routines for their online classes. It is going to be interesting for my kids as they are both so self motivated, they will probably have the week’s worth of assignments done by the first day of the week, depending on how the teacher posts assignments. It is going to be an interesting process for them. I joked with BG that with the online stuff she could get the rest of her high school finished before MC graduates and they could graduate together (not that that is an option, just a statement about how quickly she gets her stuff done).

We also got more information from BG’s dance studio. They have opted to do what they could to shift their classes to online. I’ve got to say, with what I’ve seen so far, I’m absolutely blown away with what they’ve managed to put together. I’ve always liked her studio and how they do things, but this goes so far above and beyond. They could have just as easily said we are just shutting down, but to keep these kids going and to ensure that all the staff at the studio still gets paid, they are doing everything they can to make sure that the “show must go on” while keeping everyone safe at the same time. I’m a little in awe at their dedication and determination.

As part of that, I’ll be working on getting BG a safe space to dance. It is something that I promised her a while ago since trying to dance on our concrete floor in the basement is too slick. She has come close to falling a couple of times in the past. Now, I get to build a makeshift dance floor. I have all the stuff, I just need to get it done, so that is on my project list for today. I’m hoping like crazy that it works like I think it will.

I should have some daffodils to photograph soon. The buds are on and getting bigger, but they aren’t quite open yet. My hyacinths managed to hold on through two freezes over the weekend. We absolutely need some color and beauty right now.

 

Already?! It’s Only Day 2!

So BG has already had a fun event at school and it is only day 2. Last year, I think I posted about this kid at lunch that made her really uncomfortable during lunch at the beginning of the year. She quickly found a friend to sit with and that ended the situation without much fanfare or drama and never had an issue after that.

They didn’t have a normal lunch yesterday because of first day back activities, but BG has already learned that none of her friends are in her lunch period. She found a table that didn’t have anyone at it and sat there alone. When most everyone had made it in and was sitting, this kid from last year manages to find her table, which is still entirely empty, and sits in the seat right next to her. There are also other completely open tables in the lunch room and in the area of her table. But he chose to sit in the seat. RIGHT. NEXT. TO. HER. This kid then proceeds to be crude, chewing with his mouth open and attempting to talk to BG at the same time. She did her best to just sit quietly and ignore the kid, but he still persisted and made her exceptionally uncomfortable. He got up once to go get something and BG slid to another seat at the table, just to get some space because this kid doesn’t understand or care about some of those basic, unwritten social rules people tend to live by in an effort to avoid those awkward, uncomfortable situations.

She does not know this kid. She has never had a class with him before. She had never seen this kid before he sat next to her at lunch last year, and that lasted less than a week before she found some friends to sit with. Why this kid thinks it is okay is beyond me.

It is so incredibly frustrating because it is kind of this ugly, sticky situation. She is completely uncomfortable in all ways, but she doesn’t ever like to speak up, so she won’t say a word to this kid. She also won’t say anything to a teacher or a lunch monitor in an effort to get them to intervene because the kid hasn’t exactly done anything that would violate rules. She doesn’t like to rock the boat or do anything that could offend someone and is this whole other thing tied to the ugly fears in our schools nowadays. That whole “what if they are THAT kid?” If he has some sort of disorder that would make it hard or impossible for him to pick up on social cues (I have no clue if this is a fact, BG really can’t say one way or the other), it would make this a different kind of sticky, but it is still sticky.

Her solution to this problem is to talk to a teacher she had last year that is near her lunch room to see if she can come and eat in the teacher’s classroom instead (and may not get permission for any number of reasons). I get it. The school can’t fix a problem they don’t know about, but… She shouldn’t be forced to be uncomfortable. She shouldn’t have to fear speaking up when someone makes her feel that way. She shouldn’t have to find these exceptionally twisty, creative ways to avoid a situation that makes her that uncomfortable. It really is one of those “No real, good solution” kind of things and I honestly don’t know what the best advice is to give her. I just hope that the teacher she is going to approach will agree to let her eat in her room.

Did I mention this is only day 2? *sigh*

 

Bright, Sunshiny Day

It begins. I just saw MC off for his first day of being a Senior. My brain still hasn’t quite wrapped itself around that concept yet. Maybe I’ll have gotten a handle on it before he walks with his cap and gown. Maybe.

For now, I’m going to have a cup of coffee and one of our traditional first day of school treats: donuts. Then I have to wrestle our oldest cat off to the vet. Hopefully that will keep my mind from tying itself in knots over the Senior thing and the quiet in the house. At least for a while.

Getting School Minded

This is that crazy week that seems to be full of getting the kids ready to go back to school. Yesterday was registration for both MC and BG, but it was the last for MC. That is one of those gut knotting moments when you get an in your face reminder that one of your babies isn’t so much a baby any more. This will be his last year in high school. He will actually be graduating this year. With honors. I know this is only one moment in a long string of moments that will happen this year to hit me like this. I also know that all of them will be over and gone in a blink of an eye.

BG is taking yet another step into finding out more of who she is as she has been invited to be a dance assistant at her studio this year. It is sort of a big step for the awkward, slightly introverted girl she is. That means she will be adding another two hours to her time at the studio every week. It also adds at least one more performance to her end of the year recital, which was already getting an additional performance because she is now in the oldest group of dancers, reaching her own not a baby anymore milestone.

My babies aren’t babies anymore and haven’t been in a long time, but it still hits when you see these moments and recognize them for what they are. My kids are growing and becoming little adults and I’m so not ready for it. Are you ever?

Just Hangin’

The one thing we managed to get done last week during the time that Hubby took off of work besides getting the kids registered for school was take a trip to the zoo (hence the uptick in animal photos). I dubbed these two the Yin and Yang Monkeys.

Continue reading “Just Hangin’”