Last First Day

Today is one of those life milestones that you can’t decide to be happy about or cry about, but always feels like a mess of both.

It is BG’s first day of her senior year.

Her last first day of school.

It is even harder because she is my baby. The last one to do this. You’d think it would be easier the 3rd time around, but it so isn’t.

It is already hard, but toss in the fact that she is also in person for the first time in a year and a half and the fact that doing online isn’t even a choice this year even though kids are being way more impacted by Delta than the first time around and it is also really stressful to see her drive off.

None of that stress is relieved by the fact that even though it is her first day of school, her schedule is still a ridiculous mess because our district cannot manage to actually figure out a decent process to get these kids in the classes they asked for without them having to jump through a million hoops and going round in circles with the counselors. They have two days of basically BS assemblies and activities before actual classes start, so she still has a tiny cushion, but there is every possibility that she will not get it smoothed out until much later in the week.

Senior year is always a big deal. BG has watched how chaotic and so far from normal for it has been for the last two years of seniors and she really wants this one to be normal, but it most likely isn’t going to be.

She also has a challenging year of classes ahead of her if she can end up with all the classes she asked for. Even though she had a hellacious time in calculus last year, her summer going over it one on one with her teacher convinced her to take the second one. That alone will be extremely hard, but she has a couple of other college level classes she is taking as well.

I’m so proud of her for not letting the rough patch trip her up. I’m proud of her for getting back into it and reaching for more. With school and all she will be doing with dance this year, it is going to be her hardest one yet. I know she is more than capable. I still worry. That’s kind of my job.

Yes, she will still get that first day of college, but that is different. The end of high school is the end of an entire, huge phase of her life, so having her go off today for her last first day is full of joy and sadness and worry and pride.

Today I’ll be hiding out in my room, working on my drawers and trying to just let the day wash over me.

What’s Left At The End Of The Day

It is difficult not to be exceptionally angry today. I’m angry at the ignorance and the unwillingness of those that are supposed to be in charge to actually DO something productive.

Yes, I could be talking on the larger scale as that absolutely applies as well, but I’m talking a little lower down the power rung. Our idiotic governor, who just got reelected, much to my horror, just put out a decision stating that as long as masks are worn properly at the time of exposure, schools no longer need to issue quarantines for those that might have been exposed.

What the ever loving fuck?!

The same day, one major university announced they were going full virtual after Thanksgiving and a local high school was also having to go all virtual because of the number of cases. But the brain trust in charge of our entire state decided, against ALL CDC and health department recommendations, that quarantines are no longer needed.

This was immediately followed by our mayor stating that our city would not be following those guidelines. Sadly, BG’s school district isn’t inside the city limits and aren’t bound by city rules. They did put out a statement that they will be considering what this means for them and give more information later.

It is hard enough to send her to the school to take her proctored exams as it is. Knowing she will be going if the school follows our governor’s guidelines pisses me off. I have her doing online for a reason.

This also makes it significantly more concerning to send her to dance because there are SO many school districts represented at the studio and I have no way of knowing which schools will be following those guidelines and which ones won’t.

I am sick to death of people that don’t know squat thinking they know more than the experts and putting so many people at risk. I simply do not understand whatever twisted rationale they used to make such a stupid, risky decision.  Schools are already having a hard enough time with outbreaks, but this dipshit thinks this is a good idea and that things will be better?

Oh, and this is the same dipshit that cut funding for schools in the spring.

The only mitigating factor in this at all is that, so far, our district has followed city guidelines for the most part. It is still going to impact so many other areas of my state, though. So many people are going to die because there is an idiot at the helm who refuses to listen to the real doctors with real experience and the CDC and the health departments. You know, the ones who’s jobs it is to know this stuff.

School Heading Into Fall And Winter

Up until recently, I’ve been mostly happy with the school situation with both BG doing her junior year remotely and MC being nearly all remote for his freshman year of college, but still being required to be in his dorm.

Ideally, I’d still prefer MC do be able to do his part from home, but I’ve been really pleased with how his school has handled things. So far, there have not been any cases on campus, which is kind of shocking. They are being told that they are not required to come back to campus after their Thanksgiving break because of concerns of students getting together with families over the holidays.

I think there are plans to go full virtual after the new year, but I don’t think they’ve confirmed those plans yet or how that will impact those students like MC that have the campus requirement for their scholarships.

With BG, I’ve been more than thrilled with her being virtual. She mostly prefers it that way, but has run into a few bumps and frustrations, mostly with a less than organized teacher that has extremely poor communication skills and never answers emails. There is most likely going to be the option to choose virtual again for next semester and she will absolutely be taking that option when it finally comes up.

The problem I am having is that she is still required to go to the school for some of her tests since they are for her AP classes and have to be monitored. This wouldn’t bother me nearly so much if I weren’t now getting a daily email of yet another positive test case at the school and I wasn’t also aware that it is absolutely possible to proctor an exam virtually as MC has done that for all of his online only courses.

We had reasons to choose the online only option. We made that decision after carefully considering all the different pieces and risk factors involved and determined it would be better for all of us if BG did the online only option. Yes, she has a risk through dance, but those factors were less of a risk than the school (fewer contact points, less time, better environmental factors) and some social interaction is important.

I strongly dislike the fact that she is still required to increase her exposure risk by going into the school building and sitting in a classroom with other students and a teacher going between two different classrooms of different students in the process when there are other options. I am even more upset now that there are beginning to be so many cases in our district, yet they are still requiring this in person testing.

It is already becoming a problem as some students that were in person and may have been in contact with a positive test case are forced to quarantine and cannot be in the school at all until they are out of quarantine, so they can’t take those tests until later, which kind of goes against some of the protections and reasons they require these tests be proctored.

I get it. This is unprecedented and these teachers and administrators are treading brand new ground and don’t have any kind of playbook to follow. I do think that some of these teachers have done a stellar job, going above and beyond to educate these kids (BG has a couple that she absolutely adores and so does MC). I do understand that we are probably more fortunate than a lot of others as I’ve seen some really awful stories about other people’s experiences. At the same time, sometimes I really wonder if some are ever actually thinking or if they just truly don’t have a clue.

Sadly, I think we are at a point here, or at least very close to it, where more and more students are going to be forced to go online (possibly even completely), so it is only going to get worse and I don’t know that our district or teachers are actually prepared for that.

Purple Frills

We actually got some sun yesterday and today is promising to be stunning. All the windows are open and I’m planning on spending at least a part of the day out playing with my flowers. A much needed break from the last couple of days.

Yesterday was BG’s last day of school and I’m so glad this year is done for both of the kids now. She took her last test, which was her pre-calc final the day before. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her break down so hard or so fast over anything school related, let alone math related since she started on the accelerated path in 6th grade with a small group of other students and were still expected to know what the 7th graders had already learned and the 6th graders had skipped.

There were so many pieces to the why behind it, but a HUGE part of that is that the material needed to do well on the test wasn’t covered well since the students went online and the prep for the test was almost non-existent. There are some questions over whether a graded test should have even been presented based on district guidelines for the remainder of this year, especially for those students not taking it as a dual credit.

She talked to friends in the same class that had other teachers that didn’t even come close to the issues she had, so I have a whole lot of questions behind what went on with her class. I’m even thinking the other students took a VERY different test as theirs was only a 90 minute test and hers was 3 frickin’ hours long.

In the end, she did well enough to maintain her A for the course, but she was not happy with her performance. This after hours of study and note taking, a process that normally makes any test taking she does a breeze. Of all the things to go sideways in the massive changes that happened this year, I cannot stand that this has potentially shaken her faith in her own ability to handle the higher level math classes, even if only by a fraction.

So, yeah. I’m thrilled they are done with school for the year. She did get some hugely positive news on the tail end of it, though. She was accepted into a mentor program through the school for the next year, so that helped to end her year on a better note.

Yesterday was also my day to try and prep her for going back to her dance classes. As an assistant, she will be required to wear a mask. It looks like it is optional for dancers, but I’m not giving her that option. To make this possible, I was working on a mask design for her.

She has some anxiety issues and, maybe, mild asthma (though we haven’t gotten a doctor to confirm either). Because of that, she sometimes feels like she is having a slightly hard time breathing. When she tried on one of my masks, she couldn’t tolerate the fabric against her nose. I had to brainstorm and get creative, but I came up with an option that worked. I just had to fine tune it.

It took a bulk of my day to change the pattern I had and work though the logistics, but I now have a prototype for the rest of the masks I need to make her. All fit a small, wire mesh “cup” that I’ve formed to fit her face and give her space between her nose and the fabric. I have more sewing to do on these than on the masks I made for Hubby and I, but it looks like it is going to work well. She is supposed to try it out while dancing and see if I need to make any tweaks.

One of the things I did was use an iron on paper and printed the dance studio’s logo on one side of the mask and their nickname on the other. I posted pictures of it on FB and now I have at least one of her teachers wanting one. After talking to BG, I think my mask making project just got ramped up.

It is so damn weird to know that the kids are officially out of school for the summer and yet I’m prepping her to go back to dance, which is usually doing recitals around this time of year.

Oh! I caved yesterday after having to restart my computer several times just to get my internet connection back and get the damn thing to even start up. I have a new computer on the way. It would be awesome for things to calm down for a while. Seriously.

White Iris & MC Day

Today is MC’s official last day of high school, the end of a huge phase of his life up until now. Under normal circumstances, it would feel like a big, sharp end with him having done all the normal things that would lead up to this moment.

The district would normally have the students wear their caps and gowns and walk through their grade and middle schools, high fiving the younger kids and seeing old teachers. There would be the expected build up of excitement among the students, the kind you could hear and feel just walking through the halls. Kids planning parties and celebrations. Some even participating in a senior skip day or a prank (some not always well thought out).

This year, instead of a bright, distinct end with seniors walking out the doors of the high school for the last time, it has felt more like senior year has dissipated and just faded out to nothing while they sat alone at home. Spring break became indefinite, followed by a scramble to finish presenting needed material in an online format so that those seniors were still prepared to take their final exams for any dual credit classes or their AP tests.

Not a single traditional event has been able to be held. I actually saw a T-shirt that kind of said it all…

Senior Skip Day Champions, Class of 2020.

It is an attempt to laugh at something that isn’t all that funny and so incredibly difficult for a lot of young people.

For MC, he has done an amazing job of just going with the flow. I cannot begin to express how proud I am of him for weathering this as well as he has. I know that a lot of seniors are really having a hard time and my heart hurts for them.

My kid is just the typical introvert and is often happier at home playing his games, so, for the most part, this isn’t that much different from what he would have been doing. He is missing his friends, but they have made the time to do some gaming together online.

I’ll be spending the day putting together MC’s favorite finger foods and we have both Deadpool movies waiting to be watched. It may not be what many would think of as a great celebration to close out his high school career, but it is exactly the kind of thing he loves, so that is what we will be doing.

I still have to come up with a plan for his graduation, something that is still on the calendar but can change at any moment. Considering he will be graduating with honors, I refuse to let that moment pass without something to mark it, no matter what is going on in the world.

For now, we are making it MC day and marking the end of this massive stage in his life. If you know a senior, high school or college, take a moment or 10 to celebrate them and how incredibly odd and extra emotional the ending of this time is for them., even if they are as laid back about it as MC is.

Stretching The Creativity

This is MC’s last official week of high school. Most of his classes are already done and he has very little work left. He will have an AP final later in the month, but that was always set for that date. It will just be an online version instead. That’s because he is finishing out his high school senior year at home, which has made it one hell of a different experience than anyone expected.

It also means I’m having to really push my creativity when it comes to finding ways to acknowledge such a huge accomplishment. Not that we were intending much anyway as he isn’t much of a social person. If anything, I thought he and his gamer friends would get together for one of their gaming nights as a way to celebrate, but that can’t happen now.

I can’t do nothing because he deserves to be honored and recognized for all his hard work. With so many other things that have been canceled because of the pandemic, including his chance to get to take his girl, MCG, to prom and see her face to face for the first time or the senior walk through the grade and middle schools to see old teachers, I couldn’t let this slip by unrecognized.

The importance of this is something that has really been driven home while I’ve helped MC edit and polish one of his scholarship applications. It highlighted some of his biggest accomplishments throughout school and showed me how proud he was of his own hard work, something he so very rarely ever shows, so I really needed to make an effort to acknowledge all of that.

If things were normal, we’d still keep it small. Probably just taking him to out to eat at a restaurant of his choice. But that isn’t an option. I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with something fun that we can do here and that would be special for him.

I decided to kind of do a week of awesome for MC. It started last night with me making one of his favorite meals and will finish up on Friday, his last day, with a night of the family favorite finger foods and movies, capping it off with some death by chocolate.

While this is all very food heavy, that is kind of the main way we tend to do celebrations, so it is perfect. I’m going to try and squeeze in a night or two during the week to play some games. I have a feeling Fibbage is going to be coming out since that is one of MC’s favorite games to play as a family. Mostly because we get completely stupid and ridiculous in the process.

It might not seem like a lot when it is all said and done, but it is a way to show him how much he means to us and how proud of him we are. He not only survived high school, he kicked its butt in epic fashion. He will be going off to college with all 4 years of his tuition paid for and a potential for a one time scholarship of $5k (just submitted this one, so we are in wait mode on that, but chances are good), all because he set a goal to do his absolute best and he excelled at every single class.

He seems to be stoked for our little celebration, so that is really all that matters. Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do for his actual graduation. My creativity muscles are getting one hell of a workout.

 

Bleeding Hearts

We dipped below freezing again last night. Figures it would come a day after we hit a record high temperature. Welcome to spring in the mid-west.

These still look good, but they sure felt a little limp, so I don’t know if the tiny buds that are waiting to get bigger and open (do they really open like a normal flower?) are going to actually make it. As with everything right now, I guess I will wait and see.

It was made official yesterday that the kids will not be going back to school this year. They will finish out the year doing their online work. I have no idea what that means for MC’s graduation as the school has yet to communicate with the parents about what plans or alternatives are in the works.

I understand that so much is up in the air right now and there isn’t a lot that can be done about that. I’m good with whatever they do decide. It just drives me crazy that there isn’t any kind of information at all about what may or may not be options. I’d kind of like to know if an out and out cancellation is even on the table at this point.

With BG and dance, the studio has been working tirelessly to work out alternatives, including setting up 2 different back up dates for their recital and letting parents know that this is the plan. It is still open to change and they’ve made that clear, but they’ve also kept the parents informed on an actual plan.

I think it is just the no plan or communication, the whole not knowing part that bothers me. There are so many things that already feel like they are just hanging, any little piece that feels like it is still moving and progressing helps, but this piece is still hanging. I’m not a huge organizer or planner (only certain areas), but I can only imagine how stressful all of this is for those that really need to make plans.

Will it be hard if there isn’t an actual ceremony? Hell yes! MC will be the first of my kids to graduate high school since OC dropped out, so this is a huge moment, especially after all the work he has put into being a phenomenal student. It would be hugely disappointing, but I’m still okay with that if that is how things need to happen. People’s lives, health and well being are so much more important. We will still find a way to celebrate his accomplishment. It just may look very different than expected.

MC is handling the whole thing amazingly well. He’s all “I’ll have some great stories to tell my kids when they are my age.” I’m sure he is still a little disappointed, but he is very chill about the whole thing. I know a lot of other seniors are having much harder time emotionally.

My Brain Hurts

Yesterday’s frustration with the school stuff blew up into a cluster and I just cannot understand how it ended up that way or why the school made the decision to take some of the actions that they did. Those actions irrationally put some students in a position of potentially not being able to do their assigned work and created a butt load of stress and worry and frustration in the process. I understand some of the underlying motivations for why, but the reality of the follow through…

I think I’ll just say that this whole mess is a great example that technology is far, far from perfect and people don’t often think of all the more obscure issues that can pop up. There will always be a loophole that someone will exploit if they can find it. There will always be glitches. There will always be problems because it is so heavily a part of our lives that it is nearly impossible to be active in the daily world and not have access to it, especially when what you do requires that access.

It truly makes my brain ache to think of how far reaching and damaging the actions of a couple of ignorant kids can be.

It is a lesson and a reminder to everyone to stop and think long and hard before you click send or publish or post or pretty much anything that doesn’t have an undo button.

Responsibility And Consequences

Who bears actual responsibility and who should suffer the consequences of certain actions? In this situation, I’m talking about kids in general, but more specifically, teenagers. There are so many scenarios and times when a kid does something that the fingers start pointing everywhere. The parents. The schools. Video games. Music. Other kids. Pretty much anything and everything that can be pointed to other than just the kid.

No, this is not a simple, cut and dried concept. There are times when it is more than just the kid that is responsible, but so many times I see the finger pointing and the blame come out instinctually without anyone ever looking that the circumstances of the situation and putting that responsibility where it legitimately belongs. I’ve seen it first hand throughout my kids’ school years, both the blame and the praise.

Sadly, that finger pointing can lead to even bigger problems and consequences. I’ve been watching this unfold in our school over the last week. An incident involving some pretty ugly, awful words being shared around the school by a couple of kids has ended up in the news. The district has always been upfront, notifying parents about any incidents immediately, then following up later with more information if investigation was needed. This incident was no exception. They’ve investigated and issued punishments to the students involved, but the fingers have come out.

I read an opinion article in a local paper that points those fingers at administration and saying they didn’t do enough and that they should issue an apology and included some misrepresented facts and details about the situation which painted the entire school, including the student body, in a nasty light.

My kids are now concerned for their friends that play sports. Those kids are talking about being worried about the upcoming football game and how the other team is going to treat them. They are worried that the other team will view them as tainted by this situation and target them even though they had nothing to do with it and those words do not reflect who they are. All because the district is being called out for those students’ words and actions.

As volatile as things seem to be in this country, I don’t blame them for their concern. Those innocent kids are paying the price in stress and worry, and potentially their own safety. Not just for the actions of a couple of truly ignorant kids, but because people are dumping the responsibility for those kids’ horrific behavior on the district as a whole and the administration.

Is it fair to place blame on the administration and the district? I honestly don’t know. I only know bits of this from what I’ve gotten from the notices and the things the kids have told me. It seems they reacted immediately to shut the incident down and are taking some pretty extreme measures and actions with this. They have fully communicated the entire situation with parents and students along the way. This is apparently not enough for some. Is it their responsibility to apologize for the actions of a couple of kids intent on spreading some vile things? I really don’t know if that falls on their shoulders.

I do wonder how pointing the finger at the district instead of the kids that are at the heart of this does anything to make this situation better in any way. I can see that the finger pointing and blame is filtering down in a way it never should.