Some of you were ready to retire from parenting after you raised your own children, but you have inherited beloved grandchildren, or you are assisting your own adult children or friends with the little ones so a parent can go to work.And what fresh challenges you have encountered!
There are also those among us who signed up for a new job and stepped into it with confidence, only to find that the skills we polished in preparation are not the ones demanded of us now. Again, this applies not only to staff, but to parents. That first day of Kindergarten? When parents were priming themselves to “let go?” That five year build-up, and now… here you are together. Some of you breathed a sigh of relief, grateful for the extension. Others had to scurry for support, to regroup, to become teaching assistants.
Some of you were expertly parenting one or multiple children. You had the sleep schedule and the meal routine and the household flow all nicely in place, with a few unexpected bumps, but a lot of satisfaction and delight. Now, that lovingly built structure has tumbled into something unexpected: Google Classrooms. Zooms. SeeSaw. Materials exchanges. Technology hardware and software issues. Safety guidelines. Upset schedules. Heads exploding.
The ABS staff and our families have worked on developing skill sets built on solid values, research, and goals, driven in real time by compassion and attention, improvisation and humor. You strove to limit screen time. Once you were home, you prioritized your child over an unfinished task for work. You established schedules that carefully and lovingly balanced focus and responsibility with unfettered time for rolling down hills, watching clouds, baking cookies, playing basketball. You visited Grandma. You let the kids run while you and the neighbors cooked out over the grill. And now… you are a novice, with anxiety and stage fright and fumbling hands. How do you parent now? How do you teach? Where are your tools, your support system? (And some of us are both staff and parents.)
We know something about stage fright, here. We teach Kindergarten students that one secret to managing butterflies in the stomach is to breathe, and this remains true at any age. As Principal Hollis says at each parent and staff meeting: “Breathe and smile. We’ve got this.”
These moments are as precious as any, even though they aren’t the ones we expected. We need an air force of poets, to help us see them and embrace them. We also need one another. We need to listen to each other and to attempt to intuit one another’s needs. Listening is like planting seeds in the stillness of the garden before the jubilation of spring comes roaring back.
The ABS Parent Council plans a parent social for Thursday, October 1st @ 5:30. While Zoom might be that pal you wish you could avoid right now, it is a valuable tool for providing the opportunity to listen. Parents need to see one another’s faces, to sigh and congratulate and reinforce together. You are welcome to attend!
How heroic we all are, and how fortunate we are to share this time together! Will we look back in two years with a perspective of gratitude? Let’s sow those seeds, and see what we reap.