I dropped all four of my kids off at school today.
This is significant for SO many reasons. For one thing it’s Elle’s first time in school. She started half day Kindergarten today!
That means for a couple hours all four kids are in school at the same time which is crazy to me. For the past 14 years there has always been a baby (or babies) at home with me. The fact that all of them are in school is mind blowing!
The other reason this milestone is a big deal is because we homeschooled last year and the year before that school abruptly went to remote learning in March. That makes 17 months since my children have been to traditional school. I have so many thoughts and feeling swirling around in the middle of all this and I figured why not dump them out on the internet in case anyone else is feeling the same way?
I know the topic of masks is polarizing! I have dear friends that are all about masks and vaccines and I have those that are the opposite. I’ve always had a holistic bend. We did home birth, cloth diapers, delayed vaccines, co-sleeping, and more. You can probably guess where I fall in the midst of all this pandemic confusion. For me it’s always been about trusting my body. That DEFINITELY includes listening to Doctors and taking medications, but I lean more towards the natural approach. I’ve always been like this. My mom had an unmedicated home birth with me so I guess you could say I was literally born this way. Add to that, the fact that my daughter is 100% deaf and even with cochlear implants she relies heavily on facial expressions, lip reading, proximity, and clarity of sound.
That’s why we ended up homeschooling last year. If you had someone deliberately design the worst possible environment for my daughter to hear it would include masks, shields, and distance.
So we homeschooled for all of the 20/21 school year. There were highs and lows, but I don’t regret it at all. It was the right choice for us. Then at the end of the year I felt led to put the kids back in school (for the upcoming school year). So I contacted out district and started sorting out what that would look like. I talked to teachers, therapists, and parents. I wanted to make the right choice and J and I prayerfully decided to enroll our kids for the 21/22 school year. Everything was working out great and masks were not mandated. That was until last week when the school decided that they needed to reconsider this decision. A board meeting was scheduled for less than 36 hours before the school year started. There was a heated debate between community members proclaiming why the school would be reckless and irresponsible if they chose not to mandate masks and the other side having the same feelings if they did mandate it. It was intense. I let the kids watch and we used it as a learning experience. We discussed both sides. We also talked about the best way to get involved in a positive and respectful way when you are passionate about something.
Then someone appeared on the screen that we recognized. It was one of Z’s good friends wearing a mask and making a case for the mask mandate. “Wait.. is that…?” Zion mumbled. We all sat quietly. When he finished I paused it. I said “Did you guys know who that was?” and they said yes. “How does he feel about masks?” “He wants masks to be mandatory” Ezie said. “Z how do you feel about masks?” I asked. “I don’t like them”. He said. For the record I have never pushed this on him. He understands the rules and we always obey them. He wears glasses and hates how the mask fogs them up and his sister is deaf. He is entitled to his own opinion.
“Can Z and this kid still be friends?” I asked. “YES” they all agreed. “Was this kid brave and do a great job talking peacefully about this subject” “YES” They all said in unison.
The meeting lasted 4 hours and ended after midnight. We only watched little bits of a recording, we weren’t watching live. It was less than 24 hours before the first day of school when the school announced that the board had voted in favor of the mask mandate.
Afterwards I poked my head in Z’s room. He was on a message board typing a message to his friend that just spoke out at the board meeting. I asked what he was up to and Z said he wanted to tell him he did a good job. I tensed up a bit. I was worried this would cause conflict because maybe the kid would start name calling unmasked people or that his compliment would be confusing if Z showed up not wearing a mask. A number of scenarios rolled through my mind. But the conversation through text went like this-
Z: Great job on your speech. I think it’s good that you care about your little sister like that.
Z: Do you have Rocket League?
Rocket league is a video game and the conversation went on from there. I tear up even writing that. With all the terrible mud slinging and division I have witnessed from all sides, my mind immediately went to the worst. I imagined a big rift or heated debate. I got out of the way though and let my son encourage his friend and it was fine. It was so beautifully refreshing.
Speaking of refreshing I have been fasting for 21 days in August. Church of the Highlands is leading a 21 days of prayer event with a prayer guide and online services right now (click the link if you are interested). As I faced all of the confusion this week with the last minute mask mandate I have been reminded over and over that I need to trust God. He gave me a peace about sending my kids back to school last May. Then things started going topsy turvy and the Delta variant started springing up and my inner alarm was blaring. I doubted God, but He spoke to me in my prayer time. I felt him say that HE didn’t change. The circumstances around me may have changed but He didn’t. Then right when I was explaining to J about all of this a rainbow showed up at our front door reminding me even more that God keeps his promises.
No one wants this Covid stuff to continue. It’s been a nightmare. A friend of mine told me that she was reflecting on how when Peter looked at the waves he started sinking. We can’t focus on the storm. We have to focus on Jesus. We have to keep our posture in alignment with Him. That’s made all the difference for me in this time of uncertainty.
Against all the odds I am looking forward to a great school year.