Saturday, September 5, 2020


 It's been a moment or two since I've written here. A lot has happened since May. That might be the biggest understatement I’ve ever uttered. Well, like so much right now, I suppose it is what it is.

At the end of July our oldest, Luke, came home from Cross Country practice to tell us he had decided to quit the team. As a parent, I’m not sure there is anything harder than watching your children struggle. We knew he was having a hard time. He had already decided not to run in college a few months back, and that was huge. But for him to quit a team he loved, a sport he loved, was concerning. Then he shared that he was struggling a bit with depression. We were more concerned. After a few emotional conversations, we made a plan. 

I’m going to be honest, my heart was breaking. I felt powerless.

The next day, Luke posted this on his Instagram.

As a parent and a teacher, I was impressed how open he was about his struggles. That type of post, while I’m sure he didn’t realize it, can have ripples. I’m beyond proud of him and grateful for the fact that he’s open about where he is and working his ass off to get where he needs to go. 

And yet, I am still adjusting. 

Last Saturday was the first meet for the varsity team. Luke was home. I went out for a run, thinking about the kids running that day, and realized sweat was not the only thing running down my face. I came home and went to see him. Was this a hard day for him? He looked surprised and said no, he was comfortable with his decision. He was confused as to why I’d think it would be. I explained that I was trying to adjust my vision of what his Senior year would be. I’d already done that due to COVID. But now, I was reconciling myself with the idea that I wouldn’t be out there cheering him on. He laughed and said I could cheer for him at his first marathon.

I was grateful that he still planned to run, but the sadness remained.

It seems this year has been one adjustment after another. I’m grateful I have the privilege to sit and be forced to make those adjustments. As of the typing of this post, 188,098 Americans don’t have that option due to this horrible virus. That alone tells me to buck up and move on. But I think it’s also ok to recognize that this is hard. The students coming into my class have been mired in this world just as I have. Some have sailed through it and are feeling fine. Some have experienced the aftershocks of this pandemic and it will absolutely impact them. That’s something to remember.

On Wednesday of this past week, students came back into our school buildings for the first time in 162 days. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was anxious about teaching during a pandemic. And yet, we began. Masked up, sanitizing between classes, teaching some kids in person, some remotely. No longer does my class resemble a comfortable coffee house, but instead looks like a traditional classroom with desks in rows. Students cannot “shop the shelves” to find books, I book talk with each child individually, books get returned to plastic tubs when finished to quarantine for five days.

It’s strange. And it’s still school.

I’m adjusting what vision I had for the school year, just as I’m adjusting my vision for Luke’s Senior year. Over and over this week I reminded myself that it would be fine. I have sixty-four kids this year. By Friday, each one had a book. I knew about 58 of their names when I’d see their masked faces. They knew a bit about me. We’d sweated together in my humid room. 

It’s going to be ok.

And here, on Saturday, I lay on the wicker couch on my porch. I looked at my email to see this from a student. She’d exclaimed during homeroom at the end of the day on Friday that she only had a chapter left in P.S. I Love You. I’d handed off Always and Forever, Lara Jean. Her email reminded me that our year might not be a typical year, but it was still going to be pretty amazing.

After replying to her, I heard the pounding steps of a runner. Looking up, I saw Luke jogging down the street, one of our dogs straining at the leash bringing him home. I love that he’s still running, even if it's just for himself. I love that our Sophomore, Liam, is still on the team running. And I’m going to celebrate what this year brings. I think it will be some pretty amazing experiences, if I’m open to them.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy school year filled with amazing experiences.