Written By: Mary Broding
As much as I would like to feel that I have a decent handle on pandemic life right now, I really don’t. The past six months of this pandemic have been frustrating and enlightening, exhausting and invigorating, and the list goes on. As an instructor in higher education and as a parent, I see both sides of the struggles and triumphs of digital learning. What I was not expecting was San Diego County to be taken off the state watch list and my children’s schools preparing to have students return for some semblance of hybrid learning. I was prepared for long-term distance learning and that was it. However, now I have to be ready to drive three kids to three different schools in three different school districts with schedules I am waiting upon to magically manifest from the digital void and be emailed to me sometime within the next few weeks. Two of the school districts at least have a rough timeline and plan, which gives me hope. One school district, the one catering to my second-grade son with ADHD, is unclear and confusing at best with their plan. Fantastic!
What are my options here? I can get really angry and figuratively throw things. I can live in blissful ignorance until the emails come and then freak out. I can just throw my hands up and be prepared to pivot in whatever direction I am forced. The latter is the hallmark of parenting and teaching. You have no idea what is coming your way so you just have to be ready to deal with anything. I hate this option. I am a planner to a fault. You want to know what I will be doing tomorrow or what the kids will be doing a week from today? I can typically tell you with great certainty what will be happening. Now, with their school schedules, I can’t.
Most of you as parents can relate to this. We were all preparing for our children, especially those in the upper grades of high school, to be participating in a myriad of extracurricular activities, prepping for the SAT and ACT, and starting the college admissions process. My oldest is a senior in high school. She is currently writing her college admissions essay for East Coast schools. She also has severe arthritis, which qualifies her for the high-risk group of contracting any contagious virus or infection. I am utterly terrified that she is not considering schools here in Calfornia. What can I do? If I attempt to persuade her to stay in California, it will create a rift in our strong relationship. I can’t have that. Thus, I am supporting her in her choice to pursue and attend college on the East Coast; she is particularly enamored with Boston, not that I can really blame her. I am honest with her about my fears, and she acknowledges them as much as an intelligent, empathetic, and hilarious teenager can: she mainly makes jokes about it and tells me there is nothing I can do to keep her here. She’s right. There is nothing I can do about it that wouldn’t strain our relationship or make this exciting and terrifying time harder for her than it needs to be. As her mom, my duty is to love and support her, not stifle her. That is something I learned from my parents, and I turned out okayish.