I had to go to school last week and pick up my youngest boy’s leftover school supplies. The leftover pencils, crayons, and workbooks that he wouldn’t have a chance to finish using. Inside the bag of supplies, his sweet teacher handed me, while wearing gloves and a mask…stretching to reach my car so as to not break the six-foot social distancing rule…were art pieces, notes, and worksheets that he didn’t get to complete.
He sat silently in the backseat the whole drive home, his bag in his lap. I asked him if he was okay. He just nodded his head quietly. My mama heart knew that he wasn’t.
Neither of my boys were created for social distancing. They can occupy themselves and spend more of their time together than with anyone else, but they have struggled immensely with school being cut short so soon. Noah, my 5th grader, thrives on education in the traditional sense. We tried homeschooling last year and it was a tragedy. He loves—better yet needs—the structure and the routine that an average school day brings him. He needs that interaction with other students and his teachers. As a military brat, he doesn’t get the opportunity to interact with many adults outside of just his dad and me. The life his teachers have always been able to breathe into him has always been a blessing.
My sweet first-grader has cried more than once because of how much he missed his teacher. The beginning of the school year was a lot for him. He homeschooled for kindergarten, so starting first grade was a big step of independence for him. He’s never gone to preschool. He never went to daycare. This was the first year he had the chance to spread his wings a little bit and get out on his own. The beginning of the year was full of tears and anxiety; nervousness and fear. His teacher managed to bring out the confidence in him and my “little” boy isn’t quite as little anymore.
I grieved the lost academic year. I children who are stuck at home without anywhere to go and the ones who have little, if anything, to eat since the schools cannot feed them. I cried for my friends who are educators who didn’t get the chance to tell their students goodbye properly. I cried for my oldest son who starts Junior High next year and was forced to miss the last bit of his elementary years. I cried for my youngest son, who has never had the chance to celebrate the end of a school year and relish in his accomplishments for a job well done. I cried for my boys’ teachers who, despite how many times we’ve told them, will never quite understand just how much their work is appreciated and how loved they are.
I grieved for our country and the rift that this mess is creating among our citizens. I cried for the failing economy and the businesses that I see filing bankruptcy. I grieved for the small business owners who are losing their very livelihood over the country being closed. I cried for the ones who have lost loved ones because of COVID-19 and the ones who have been impacted by it. I grieved over the churches that cannot meet and the congregations that cannot worship because of the “phase” we are in.