School is Okay

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Last year I walked my son to his kindergarten class on the first day of school. Our fingers curled tightly together as we both felt anxious. As we approached the door, I could feel his hand squeeze my own and pull back, his eyes growing wide. Leaning down, I whispered into his ear, “It’s going to be okay, this is your new classroom. You are safe here.” He gave a strained smile, wrapping his full body around my arm, refusing to walk into the room.

My youngest son does not do well with change. Coupled with his shyness (he did not get that from me), going to a new school, new classroom, new teacher, and new friends… new everything, was overwhelming for him, all culminating in this moment of complete refusal to enter the room.

Fortunately, I could be there by his side, dragging his feet through the threshold and into the classroom. Gently pushing him towards his desk, then wiping his tears away as I was able to stay for a few minutes to make sure he was going to be okay. As the minutes ticked by, I noticed his shoulders starting to relax as he began to color the sheet at his desk. His teacher was beaming at him as she watched him write his name, giving him a million compliments.

Just as I was able to sneak from the room, she assured me one last time that my baby was going to be okay. That his anxiety was normal, the tears familiar, and my resistance to leave common. She made this Mama feel good.

This year was different.

But this year, I didn’t get that. Nor did any of the other parents as they were forced to stay in their cars at drop off on the first day of school. No matter what year your child is this year, that was really hard! Not to mention, the fact we might not have gotten to meet their teacher, definitely didn’t get to see the classroom, and are now completely cut off from our child’s education by not being able to volunteer. While we understand the reasons, it doesn’t make it any easier.

So, as a parent, I know you starved for information on how the school year is going …

Know that on that first day of school, underneath my own anxiety over the first day back to work; I made sure to be that parent to all the students as they entered our doors with lost looks and forming tears. Rest assured, we all did.

Each teacher stood in their doorways or the hallways, assuring our babies made it to their classrooms. Those that needed that hand for guidance to their new classrooms received it. Those that cried because they were scared or anxious were met with warm, comforting smiles and gentle voices of reassurance that everything was going to be okay.

As the days have passed, our babies have become confident students walking through the school doors and settling into their classrooms without any tears or anxiety. I watch my own son, “all by himself” as he requests now, walking into his classroom. He is talking to his friends, smiling at his teacher, and dancing along to GoNoodle videos.

There is such normalcy to the school day that one can forget we are still in the midst of a Pandemic. Well, aside from the mask covering their faces as they walk through the hallways. Teachers have found a way to keep teaching despite all the changes we were required to make due to social distancing. Children have found a way to keep learning, and most likely, a new obsession with hand sanitizer (at least my son has).

Through all the changes, we have all found a way to keep pressing on.

So, for the parents who have to wave good-bye through the car window and pray their babies are taken care of, I assure you they are. Our teachers are diligent with safety procedures, committed to teaching the way we know is best, and emphatic to what your children are going through during this time.

While we might not be able to send as many pictures as we want, or communicate every detail of the day, know that we are giving your children the very best of us because we understand what is lost during this time.

We understand your fears.

We understand what our children are going through.

And we are working hard to make everything okay.

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Anne Frances MacDonald is a Special Education Teacher for the Escambia County School District. Prior to becoming a teacher ten years ago, she worked in the mental health field and foster care system. Working with kids is her passion that has allowed her to support the community through education, social work, and coaching her son’s soccer team. She has been married for twelve years and has two boys, ages seven and six, both of who keep her busy. As a working mother, she has many roles. In the last year, she has added writer to her list, completing her first novel, A Lost Woman. Throughout her career, she has always been dedicated to supporting others and her community.

1 COMMENT

  1. Great job once again Anne. You hit the nail on the head about our concerns and those of the children. Keep up the great work. Yours is the hardest and most thankless job in the world. Surely the most important too. God Bless you!

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