Hail to the conquering heroes. School is finally over. And social media is flooded with the typical June posts.
You made it.
We’re so proud of you.
Here’s to the next chapter.
Sure, our kids made it through the school year.
But my congratulations today go out to all the parents. You earned a Ph.D. in Pandemic Crushing this year.
We spent the full school year doggy paddling in uncharted waters — and we’ve made it to the dry land of summer vacation. While COVID-19 isn’t completely over, I’m grateful for quite a few things on this oasis:
Gym class can finally get the heck out of my living room. No more kids stomping mercilessly through the house doing makeshift workouts with my laundry baskets or my favorite frying pan.
Google Meets and the spotty connections that go with them are history. And I no longer have to endure the occasional and inevitable embarrassment that comes along with an 8-year-old controlling the mute button.
Saying adieu to the Megalopolis of Useless Apps and the Wilderness of Broken Links.
Being heard in person, instead of hearing, “YOU’RE ON MUTE!”
And, finally getting to say: “Peace out, Asynch. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
We spent a year bouncing in a pinball machine of constantly changing safety advice — balancing what experts said with our own rationalizations, and personal breaking points. What does the CDC say this week? I wondered regularly.
Out of school.
Back in school.
I’ve never been more thrilled to leave an arcade.
Most of all, I’m happy to stop wading through the flood of tears and outbursts born of the absence of human contact.
Why can’t we go to the playground?
Because playgrounds are the devil. No daughter of mine is gonna play in no playground!
My daughter bawled. Never mind that she had a rusty swing set in her backyard, she wanted those swings. She wanted a change of pace. She wanted people. We all did.
I recall the time she felt betrayed that I ran into her former kindergarten teacher. She should have been the one to run into her, after all.
Wait. You SAW Miss Gyza at the store?!
Crap. I thought she would be happy. Amateur.
I’m sorry I couldn’t bring you to the store, kiddo. (You know … COVID.) We’ll see her another time, I’m sure.
Tantrums are common for kids, but during a pandemic, the tantrums are suspicious and second-guessed. We were constantly doggy paddling through murky waters.
Is this the isolation depression they keep talking about? Is she going to rebound? Am I ever going to rebound?
People created “bubbles” of friends to ride out the storm with — and the kids within those bubbles became sick of each other. We refereed fights and upped their screen time, so they could communicate with other friends. How much screen time is too much? We fretted over the long-term effects, while promising them it would be over soon. During this time, we kept a close watch over the mental health of our kids, often neglecting our own.
I recall my own tears and frustration, listening to their wishful thinking, knowing we would not be out of the woods anytime soon.
Remember when we did the talent show, mom? And Julie ran up on stage? This year, I’m going to be Angelica Schuyler from Hamilton! Can we all go to the restaurant after, again?
I can’t wait to get a book from the library. No, mom. Not Amazon. I mean like WALK THROUGH and just browse. Probably in January, right?
Will you come with us on our school trip? I hope we go to the Franklin Institute!
I had to break their little hearts, and mine, over, and over, and over.
Yet, we survived. No — we triumphed. We got our kids, and ourselves, through the storm of 2020 — and much of 2021. Maybe we aren’t 100% in the clear just yet, but now the bogeyman knows we are a formidable opponent.
Parents, you made it. We’re so proud of you. Here’s to the next chapter.
Bethany Watson-Ostrowski is an author and the owner of Bethany’s Events Catering.