On Monday the governor of our state announced that schools would be closed for the remainder of the year.
My initial reaction to this was "There is no way you can expect me to break that news to my children. At all. The governor himself is going to need to come to my house, and standing six feet away from us, break my children's little hearts."
Realizing that in this time of a global pandemic the governor is not going house to house, I finally put on my big girl parenting pants and told them myself.
My second grader took it like a champ. I was surprised by this because every single day we have been home she has said she wants to go back to school. She has one of those magical second year teachers who is full of energy and excitement and has made my daughter feel like second grade is life. Over Christmas vacation all my daughter talked about was going back to school.
My kindergartner took the news a little harder. She nodded, then said she needed to go to bed. It was 3:30 in the afternoon. We got her up for her on-line book club, and then she went back to bed. We caught her on and off sneaking back to bed over the afternoon. She looked at dinner and cried, "I don't know why, but I just can't eat."
I'm watching my little six year old experience her first true heartbreak.
On my oldest's last day of kindergarten she announced it was the worst day of her life. At the end of the day, when I asked her what she did that day, she told me she cried.
"When did you cry?" I asked, assuming it was the beginning of the day.
"I started when my teacher put up the 0 for 0 more days of school. I never stopped." Oh baby girl.
There is a magic to kindergarten. Even though both of my girls had gone to full day preschools and had amazing experiences with strong pre-K teachers, there is still something about kindergarten itself. I don't know if it is being old enough to be in the big school and ride a bus, or something about the developmental age, but kindergarten changed both of my children. They grew that year. They leaned into the person they are becoming and discovered interests they didn't have. Both of their classrooms had strong communities that made kindergarten feel like another family.
For my youngest, that ended too soon. The school has not started any virtual experiences yet as they work to get themselves organized and all of the on-line platforms up and running. I'm hoping once they do there will be more of a sense of connection and community.
In the meantime, I have very sad children who are truly mourning a loss.
That afternoon I let them binge watch Mr. Rogers and I curled up with a favorite book because I needed a bit of comfort too. All of this - all of the upside downness that is happening for all of us - is a loss. As parents and teachers we are trying to stand tall and take care of those around us, but we have to recognize our own feelings of loss as well. If we don't let ourselves grieve, we won't be emotionally available for our kids who need us the most.
It's hard right now. All of it. The closed schools, the trapped at home, the unknown future, the scary news stories. It's hard and scary. It's OK for it to be hard and for us to acknowledge it is hard. Yes, this sucks. We are heartbroken. We are sad and lost and scared. We have to recognize how hard it is so that we can take the next step. We can do hard things. We've got this. Together. One step at a time.