Long before I had my children, I had “my kids” — aka, my students. While giving birth and raising my girls is an entirely different experience, I still care tremendously for my kids. For the past 17 years, anywhere from 100 to 120 students per year, ranging in age from 15 to 19, have passed through my classroom. And even though I love my days at home with my girls, I miss my kids. I miss my classroom. I miss our discussions. I miss hearing their stories, their excuses, and their excitement.
During this time of mandatory school closings and social distancing, I miss my kids. A lot.
To my sophomores:
I know how relieved some of you are to have this break from learning. School is full of responsibility, stress, and a ridiculous amount of work for you guys. Your schedules are full of advanced and honors classes, with hours upon hours of homework each night.
I hope you are using this time to decompress, to catch up, and to be present and at peace with yourselves. I hope you are reading a book (and not necessarily “Lord of the Flies“). I hope you are FaceTiming with friends. I hope you are listening to and heeding the advice of doctors, scientists, and your parents in an effort to quell the spread of this virus. I hope you are finally sleeping.
To my seniors:
I know how happy some of you were with the news of two weeks off. I know you wished for more snow days this year, and this extended break felt like a reward for only having received one. Seniors don’t have to make up snow days, while the rest of us do, and you felt a little angry with winter for not being more giving with its snow. But I have a feeling you are realizing this isn’t the kind of time off you wanted. I have a feeling you are now worried about all the things this time off means: no final spring sports season, no senior trip, no prom, and even worse, no graduation.
My dear seniors… I don’t have the words to console you if this becomes our reality. All I can do is ask you to maintain your distance from each other. Stay home and away from others. Help stop the spread. If you can do this, there is a possibility that some of your senior year can be salvaged. But if it can’t, at least you’ll still have each other and your loved ones. You may have to mourn the end of your final year in high school, but the mourning can stop there. Please. Listen. Spend time with your family. Be nice to each other. Be patient (this is a lesson that will come in handy in the future). Stay healthy and safe.
To the parents of my students:
I miss your kids — I really do. Even the quiet ones. Even the sassy ones. I miss seeing their faces each day, gauging how they feel when they walk in my classroom. I miss discussing literature with them, from the superficial, “Yeah, Pip is a jerk!” (“Great Expectations,” Charles Dickens) to the more thoughtful, “Dennis is able to battle both his father’s demons and his own by confronting them in a PacMan-like way,” (“Level Up,” Gene Luen Yang).
I miss hearing about their daily adventures and their college acceptances. I miss telling them about my girls and my attempts to reacquaint myself with yoga. I miss them. Please keep them safe and do your best to enforce social distancing. I know they are teenagers and they know everything. Most of them are social creatures by nature. Remind them that the quickest way to get back to “normal” is to follow social distancing requirements for as long as they are in place.
I missed my job when I’d only been away from it for a week. And now, after four? I can’t describe it. But, I’m patiently waiting, confined at home with two little ones, to return to my classroom, my students, and my daily routine. I’ll continue this wait, for as long as necessary, to ensure a healthy and safe environment for me and my kids. Safe wishes to you all, and don’t forget: We are in this together, even though we are apart.