School Is About to Start Again and I’m Not Sure I’m Ready for It

Family

At the end of May, I wrote about how I wasn’t certain I was ready to deal with summer vacation after having finally had one school quarter where my kids were back doing school in person. Almost two months have passed since then, and my kids are finishing up their seventh week of summer vacation (which is also their last week of vacation). Our school district works on a modified year-round model, and while some areas of the country have just seen the beginning of their vacations, I am already knee-deep in back-to-school supply shopping.

I’m not sure I’m ready for it yet.

I know it wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t feel ready for summer vacation, but summer went smoother than I had anticipated. I feel like the month of June sort of blended until all of the days melted into each other, and suddenly it was the 4th of July, and while I reassured our dogs as neighbors set off fireworks, I realized the next school year was already staring us down.

The last school year was particularly rough for everyone involved, from the students to the parents to the staff members (both on the teaching end and the support end). It felt like we constantly had to adjust routines and our younger kid needed a lot more direct supervision to manage remote learning. We got through it, and everyone seems to be keeping up with grade-level stuff, but the toll that school year took on us all was a lot. Not having to be responsible for even supervising homework was a much-needed reprieve after everything.

The fact a lot of stuff is still shut down because of COVID or not at a place where we feel ready to participate in yet sort of gave us permission to take things easier in a way we might not have before. We actually had the energy to reorganize the loft the kids play in in such a way that it freed up a lot more play space for them, which made summer playtime more fun, especially given that we dialed back on some of the looser screen time rules we had over COVID to more normal levels. Overall, it was a pretty nice summer, even if it isn’t completely normal.

So I’m not certain I’m ready to go back to homework monitoring and school project wrangling quite yet. I’m not certain I’m ready for all the million things that have to be kept track of during a school year. Like many other families, we’re returning to a school in the between stages of the pandemic. While some COVID precautions are in place, others are not or are no longer mandatory.

While the kids will love getting certain aspects of normalcy back, we are still making yet another round of decisions regarding what we want to be mandatory for our kids even when it’s not mandatory for all kids. And frankly, the thought of it all is a little exhausting and overwhelming. The pandemic fatigue is still ever-present, but it’s off exploring new unvisited lands that we barely have the energy to deal with. I’m not certain how many more in-between stages we have between here and the world going back to normal, but it feels a lot like those theme park lines as a kid where you think you’re just about there and instead round another corner to find yet another tightly packed queue area. 

Then a few days ago, we hit another very familiar stage of summer: the over-it stage. This is the stage where my kids are pretty done with existing near each other and the fighting and drama reaches Academy Award levels over the smallest of things and I truly discover the level of petty and passive-aggressive they can achieve with each other. They went from super getting along on Monday to Thor and Hulk in the arena by Tuesday. While a large part of me is not ready to navigate all that school year stuff again, I’m suddenly finding myself a lot more prepared for it than I was just a few days ago. You know, until the homework and projects start rolling in again. 

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