The start of this school year feels so unsteady. On a family trip to the mountains a few years ago, we cautiously shuffled across this mile high suspension bridge. Once we were to the middle of the bridge, huge gusts of wind started whipping through the mountains. The wind was shifting the entire structure as we all gripped the rails. I took deep breaths and shouted “IT’S GOING TO BE FINE! WE’RE FINE! EVERYTHING IS FINE!” The shakiness of my voice revealed what was really happening inside my head — I was scared the whole thing would come tumbling down. This is what starting school feels like right now. Every step feels so .. uncertain.
There’s so much we don’t know about what the next few months will look like, but there is something I can say with absolute certainty: The most important lessons my children will learn during this time were never going to be taught inside the walls of a classroom. Yes, math and reading are crucial but there is so much more they are mastering right now.
Real Life Lessons
- They are learning true empathy. They see how important it is to take care of each other and our community. They now know the simple act of staying home is a gift and a privilege. I’ve seen their hearts hurt for the sick and for those that have lost so much. Learning how to genuinely care about people is a gift that will serve them well in this life.
- They are learning emotional endurance. It takes incredible internal stamina to wake up and live in this new world but they are doing it. It seems like every day brings a new challenge, but they just. keep. going.
- They are learning resilience. All the things they look forward to, sports, sleepovers, parties, vacations, have been canceled. And they’re fine. They are disappointed, tears have been shed, but they are fine. They had goals and plans for this year. I’m sad this is how they had to learn, but their ability to adapt to this new world inspires me.
- They’re learning boredom won’t actually kill you. In fact, this empty time has made space from some brilliant creations. (Reader: Did you know you can add chocolate covered pretzels to chocolate chip cookie dough? Or you can make nachos with tater tots? It’s not King Lear but our kids are thriving in the kitchen.)
I think the most important thing they’re learning right now is that it’s okay to NOT be okay. They now know there are going to be days you have the energy to conquer the world, and others when you need to pull the covers over your head and stay in bed until the sun goes down. On those dark days, they’ve learned to ask for help. I think asking for help may be the most valuable lesson any of us can learn in all of this.
In fact, I’ve made a deal with my kids. I won’t check a progress report, test grade, or report card this school year if they continue to reach out when they need it. And not just with math (because we all know that wouldn’t benefit anyone) but when they’re having those covers-over-the-head days.
We’re going to get through this. And just like those random wind gusts that caught us off guard on that bridge, this won’t last forever.