School Daze 2020

While I don’t remember everything about my youth, I do remember going back to school following the glorious summer months. I never liked school. Never. Not from kindergarten through graduate school.

But I remember liking the brand new school supplies. We didn’t have to bring everything that kids of late have to bring. Our Catholic school provided the teachers with tissues and paper towels, and we learned how to sneeze into our elbows, so we didn’t need disinfectant wipes. Oh, plus there was no COVID. But we brought brand new crayons and markers. We had Big Chief tablets and three ring binders. We had sharpened No. 2 pencils and — when we were in the older grades — we had pens. Our textbooks were newly covered with paper from grocery bags. I don’t remember having a big backpack like our grands carry nowadays. We brought our school supplies in paper bags, and carried our books home in our arms every night. You know, when we walked five miles, rain, snow, or shine, uphill both ways.

These days, school supplies cost parents a small fortune. Not only do parents provide the basic supplies necessary for school, but they also supplement the teachers by buying tissues and disinfectant wipes and paper towels. Either the parents buy them or the teachers foot the bill, because the schools aren’t providing them to the teachers. If a teacher doesn’t want to listen to 30 children sniffle throughout the winter months, someone better buy some tissues.

This year, the “First Day of School” is considerably different for many children than usual. I don’t know what they are doing in other parts of the country, but in Colorado and Arizona, many kids aren’t going back to school in a real classroom where they can shoot spit wads at one another. Heaven forbid.

Some of my grand started school today. That, in and of itself, is startling, as we never started school before Labor Day. Even within a single family, there are different methods of “going to school” this year, at least at the beginning. Grade school in the school district that starts today has the elementary grades coming in person, and the middle school and high school grades starting half in-person and half virtual.

Some of my grandkids start school after Labor Day, and will attend school live, with lots of protective measures in place. But at least they will be able to see their friends. And shoot spit wads.

The school system that starts a week from today in which a few other of my grandkids attend is starting 100 percent virtual. There are vague promises to go “live” in a month or so. We’ll see.

Dagny, who is in the immediately aforementioned school district, sat down the other night and sighed. “I am not looking forward to going back to school, Nana,” she said.

I asked her if she would feel differently if she was going back to a real classroom. “Maybe,” she replied. “I never look forward to going back to school, but at least I usually get to see my friends.”


Our young people are truly sacrificing much through this pandemic. While we Baby Boomers are not only used to being alone a lot, and we’re often too tired to be very social even if we didn’t have to wear masks. Our grandkids, however, are in the midst of learning social skills, and life skills, and how to handle money, and how to handle conflict and how to handle life. It’s hard to learn these skills under normal circumstances, but it’s nearly impossible when you’re sitting by yourself at a computer, trying your damndest to pay attention to a teacher who is boring the life out of you, but you can’t even giggle about it to your friends.

I wish all of my grandkids a successful school year. My thoughts and prayers are with them all.

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