Sending kids back to school is most certainly uncomfortable. (Citizen file)

Sending kids back to school is most certainly uncomfortable. (Citizen file)

Sarah Simpson Column: Momma’s got the back to school pandemic blues

I took my children back to school shopping with their Grammy

Hello readers. This may come as a surprise to you but I really don’t feel up to writing a shiny happy column this time around. I’ve been reading too much about the news both at home and abroad and man, no matter where you look, struggle is everywhere. Sometimes it feels like the start of the end of it all. But, like in life in general, I must press on and I owe you a column. So, here goes:

Is anyone else counting the minutes until school is back in session? I love my children, I really do, but for my family this is that magical year where my youngest finally goes to Kindergarten and I can’t wait for them to both get the heck out of my house at the same time. I mean that with all the love I can possibly muster. It’s not you kids, it’s me. I need a break. Momma is Tired with a capital T. I’m going to have a nap when they’re both at school. Just as soon as I finish cleaning the house, making meals, and I almost forgot, going to work.

Or maybe I’ll just learn to function better tired.

In all honesty, it’s not even the kids going back to school that I’m looking forward to as much as the return to a routine. I crave routine. I thrive with routine. I enjoy the predictability of it and I know the children do better with that type of structure. There’s plenty of room within that structure to be flexible but I can’t wait for the structure in general.

It’s so hard to stick to a routine in the summer and try as we might, by the end of August I’m done. We’re all done. I can’t be the only parent who feels this way.

But “Back to School” this year comes with a whole new set of worries with COVID-19 numbers on the rise again. Parents got a letter via email from the school district the other day encouraging us to get our children aged 12 and older vaccinated, but the district didn’t reply to a return email asking what we can do to help keep the many, many children going to school that are younger than 12 safe. No doubt they’re still fretting about that too and we’ll see their plan closer to the start of school, but they have mandated masks for the older grades.

It’s a particularly distressing time for parents because now is the time of the year when children are generally starting to get excited about returning to school. We’d love to get exited along with them (refer back to the first paragraph of this column) but it’s so hard to do that with all of the uncertainty.

This should be the time of the year where parents are getting ready to exhale, but the reality is we are all very much still holding our breath in the thick of this pandemic and — from my perspective anyway — it’s becoming harder and harder to see the end of it again.

What are we supposed to do about it? I have no idea, but the other day, almost as if we’ve got our blinders on to the reality of the world around us, we went shopping.

I took my children back to school shopping with their Grammy and as you would expect, my youngest was thrilled to the gills to be picking out crayons and pencils and whatever else she needed for her very first school year ever.

For my son, however, headed into the second grade, it really seemed like he could care less about any of it. School supplies? Just the eraser with the cool purple dispenser, please. Nothing else. Clothes? Nah, his clothes all fit. The old ones are fine. There was nothing aside from the cool eraser that he was looking forward to picking up for school. He wanted nothing. It broke my heart just a little. Curiously, however, he was thrilled to be able to guide his little sister through all of the things she would need for her new adventure.

I’m almost done this column and I’m not sure there’s been much of a bright side to it at all and that’s a really big bummer.

I know that the next couple of months are going to be full of worry and dread mixed in with all sorts of things that any other year might be highlights as many of us try to juggle the return of school with the resurgence of the pandemic.

The bright side, I suppose, if there is one, if that we all have the power to be nice to people. We don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives but we do know that acting with some compassion and kindness can go a long way.

Goodbye until next week, when hopefully I’ll be a bit more chipper for you.

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