Observations From the First Week of School

Aug 28, 2020

Up until the moment I was hugging my kids goodbye and telling them to have a good day!, I half expected  the school district to say, "We're sorry, but school will not be able to begin in-person this term." 

But then, the school doors were closing behind them,  and I was walking back to my car with a somewhat bewildered expression on my face. I may have been experiencing a mild case of shock. It had been over five months since they had set foot inside a school, but by the looks of it, they were going to get at least one day before anything drastic happened.

And now, here we are at the end of the week, having completed four very successful in-person days and one semi-successful virtual day, and I couldn't be happier with the way things have gone so far.

Things feel both familiar and wildly different, and consequently my awareness of everything (mostly good) seems to be heightened.

A few observations:

  • There is no quiet like that of an almost-empty house on a weekday afternoon.
  • Junior high can make a person happy. 

  • Paper bag lunches are the only way to go. 
  • A 6-year-old cannot be expected to close the house or garage doors if he has to run back for his water bottle. Don't trust his assurances.
  • It is fun to walk to the bus stop on a summer morning.

  • A three-year-old misses his "kids."
  • Trying new things builds confidence.
  • Not chauffeuring kids to and from school feels amazing.
  • Living close to the junior high and bus stop is magical.
  • Masks are stifling at recess but not so bad otherwise.
  • Friendships are resilient and outlast a pandemic.

  • A backpack is very heavy if you forget your mask and then have to run back home and then back to school before the bell rings.
  • Teachers who have the foresight to plan ahead for an uncertain future are true heroes.
  • Spying a certain 7th-grader walking home from school is delightful.

  • The wonder of a popsicle at the end of a long, hot day cannot be overstated. 
  • Game after game of Memory makes for a looooooong morning.
  • Playing a trombone with a mask on is actually not impossible. 
  • A bowtie does not automatically make you a fun teacher.
  • It is possible for an elementary school bathroom to stay clean.
  • Seeing one of your favorite cousins while you wait for the school bus is fun. 

  • People are very smily and friendly if you're holding the hand of a three-year-old.
  • It feels good to relinquish responsibility to a 12-year-old.
  • Teachers will resist telling you that certain work is "not required."
  • Virtual Fridays probably work better with only one student at home instead of four.
  • When your first grader puts his hands on the computer keyboard in the "home position" like a total natural, you might not be able to contain your glee that he is already learning something.
  • Getting the "dream team" of teachers for another year feels like an exquisite blessing.
  • A difficult three-year-old turns on all the charm when he is no longer competing with older brothers.
  • It is good to put a spare mask in your backpack . . . just in case.
  • You can smile with your eyes.

  • Eating a picnic lunch on the school grounds is refreshingly different.
  • Teachers are the best of the best and deserve all of the gold stars. 

Although we don't know how long traditional school will last, we are going to soak up every day we are given. If things change, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, we are just going to bask in the wonder of being among friends, sitting at a desk, and learning from a teacher. We will never take it for granted again.


  1. So glad they've been able to go back to school! My daughter is virtual at least through the fall, and though that's going pretty well so far, I do miss the quiet of an empty house. I'm glad your kids are getting to see friends and play and all of that!

  2. So gad that all of your school-aged children can go to school this year after the long struggle

  3. Glad your kids are off to a good school year start, Amy. So true about what we take for granted... and shouldn't!

  4. Thank you fo your support of school and teachers. Next week has already been exhausting, but it’s so great to be with kids again!


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