No Choice At All

There’s no denying that the choice to let the kid go back to school in school this year was a tough one. It also wasn’t a particularly difficult choice to make, at the same time.

To say that CDL — Comprehensive Distance Learning, aka “doing school through a laptop” as we’d been doing since March last year — was an effort was an understatement; it was understandably difficult to get him motivated about doing it, and if anything, more difficult to get him to concentrate on actually doing the work when necessary for all of that time, as well. (How could it not be? The rest of the internet was right there, after all.) Add to that, the feeling that we, as parents, felt having to keep him on task while simultaneously keep him quiet enough that we could do all the shit that we had to do, and… yeah; it was an effort, indeed.

So, the prospect of his returning to school in person was initially an exciting one for all of us. For him, especially; he’s a social kid, and lockdown left him adrift without his friends, with the exception of a few scant play dates. The idea that he could go back to school full time with all of his friends was something that almost made him cry with excitement and anticipation, with absolutely no exaggeration. On that side, it was an easy choice.

Even easier: it’s what the school system demanded. There was a CDL option available, but it was clear from all communication that it was seen as a poor Plan B. In-person learning was where it was at, as far as the local schools demanded.

But the Delta variant and the new wave of infections loom in the background, making everything seem dangerous again. These were kids, too; how successful could any attempt to enforce social distancing, or even appropriate mask etiquette, be with a building of hundreds of kids? It felt like lunacy to consider, even as the kid told us over and over again how excited he was. We said yes, nervously, hoping for the best, knowing that his heart would break if we’d done anything else.

His reaction after the first day made us all feel it was worth it; how could anyone be so excited for school? He was thrilled, glowing from the experience.  It was a relief that we hadn’t made the wrong decision, even as each morning brings new worry that someone, somewhere, would cough in such a way that the fear takes over again.

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