Family Time | Should we stay or should we go?
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Should we stay or should we go?

Should we stay or should we go?

Yesterday I was talking to my therapist and relaxing in a swing and he said I seemed calm. I was calm, in a way.  I had more or less resolved to homeschool, because homeschool is the only scenario in which I’m in complete control and my family is safe.

(And yes, I have a therapist now. We should all have one. A pandemic is some Stuff To Deal With, y’all.)

And there was distance from transition, yesterday. March’s shutdown and quarantine is months behind us and we’ve settled into whatever this is. We’ve made it through the trauma of change and are getting used to the new normal.

But September brings another transition I’ve been dreading.

I went around and around the three school options like a game of “Would You Rather.” Remember that game, where your friends would ask if you’d rather eat poop or vomit, or kiss this adult or that adult? Neither. The answer is neither. In-person school, virtual school, homeschool… I don’t like any of these options. Eating vomit isn’t better than eating poop. I don’t want to do any of it. There are no good options.

I want desperately to send my kids to school, for them to see their friends and get back into the classroom. But that level of exposure is a major jump from the lockdown we’ve been in that I’m not comfortable with.

So virtual learning. But if I had to sit through hours of a simulcast of ANYTHING I’d lose my focus and dread ever having to do it again. So that’s not great, either.

So homeschool. It’s all on you, they don’t have the in-school experience and the connection with their friends they’ve been missing, and you lose touch with school, but, well. It’s something.

So there are no bad options, I concluded. And so I’d pick homeschooling. I’ve always romanticized it, and there’s an amazing network out there for homeschoolers, super supportive. The questions I’ve asked have been answered with a sense of community and encouragement, and I like that there’s more self-direction based on interests. It sounds like it would work with our kids’ learning styles and we already had a taste of it this spring. I felt Zen about it. I had decided. And there is comfort in certainty.

It got real today, though, after more interaction with our school system. Because now I’m back on the fence.

First things first, Glens Falls City School District is doing an amazing job.

Our Jackson Heights administration, especially our Principal Carrie Mauro, is doing an amazing job.

Our teachers are doing an amazing job.

They’ve been tasked with the impossible and they’ve risen to the occasion, communicating with us and asking us how we feel every step of the way, innovating and working so hard to take care of us all. We raise a concern, they come up with a way to address it.

I feel so, so grateful.

Part of what’s jarring to me is that after more information from the school, I snap out of my fantasy world where I can bake bread and garden and play teacher and be a community leader and run a successful business all at the same time without dropping a single one of those spinning plates.

And up till now, we’ve been in survival mode. None of this is ideal but we’re surviving. But faced with this decision, I think about how formative Kindergarten and third grade were for me. And however temporarily this might end up being (hopefully!), I don’t want my kids missing out on those experiences. Those interactions with friends where you figure out who you are, if you’re a kid who stands up to bullies, who moons people to make them laugh, or who forgets their assignment book every single day. If you don’t go to school, how will you know if you’re the kid who talked about nothing but ponies or the kid who can spell anything and everything or the kid who barfed on the bus that time? These are the things that make you who you are. (Some of these are me and some were my classmates, I’ll leave you guessing.)

I love our school. I want my children to be there. And not just for what they can stuff in their brains, which matters and all — but for the actual life learning, the community, the friendship, the care of the teachers and the staff. And I want my kids to actually experience all these amazing, fun, clever, safety measures and activities that school has dreamed up and planned just for them in these wacky times.

So then I get back on the treadmill of looking at each option all over again and not knowing which way to go. And right now I feel absolutely sick about it.

In my body, it feels like I’m in an action movie, hiding from a monster behind a tree. I’m operating under a cloud of stress hormones and my adrenaline is rushing and my head feels overcaffeinated and my movements are calculated and delayed. Anyone who tries to talk to me gets a SHHHH. Because I’m THINKING.

And I’m trying to figure out if I can stay here where it’s safe, but maybe about to NOT be safe if the monster finds me, or if I can dart out to the next safe place and whether this is the time right now, or if I wait, THAT will be the right time.

Do I stay put? Will it be bad if I stay here where it seems safe? Do I run out to the next place not knowing if this is the right moment? When is the right moment? Is it now? Did I miss it? Now my indecision is maybe causing us more harm than good. Should we go? Should we stay? Should we go?

I keep treadmilling around here hoping for a sign.

We have to decide by August 10. Make a run for it or stay put. Time to decide.

And all of my kids are in my arms.

And it’s life or death.

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