by Lindsay Schlegel
Well, that was weird.
I’m raising my children in my hometown, but the way my children experienced school this last year is nothing like I lived through when I was young. We parents never stepped foot in the classroom, not even those who volunteered as room parents. We read stories to celebrate birthdays over Google Meets. We sent in craft projects for holidays and feast days in individually packaged kits. We stayed in our cars in car line.
Then again, the fact that my kids were physically in school is something that our neighbors didn’t have. I’m grateful my kids spent their respective fourth, second, and kindergarten years in their school, full time, five days a week. It’s a blessing that we were subject to only a few quarantines and we had the space, devices, and headphones (God bless whoever created headphones) to make virtual schooling work when it was required. Still, I never anticipated my six-year-old would learn conference call muting etiquette at this age.
It’s easy to wish they could have had something else. That there wasn’t plexiglass surrounding each desk. That their seats could have been grouped in pods, rather than six feet apart. That different grade levels could have played together at recess. That “mask breaks” weren’t a thing.
But when I get caught up in that anxious discontent, I remind myself: these children were made for such a time as this.
God knows what He’s doing all the time. And we’ve had the opportunity to show our children what trust in the Lord looks like in real time. We’ve shown them that we can make things work with Plan B (or Plan Z). We’ve lived the reality that we’re not in charge, and that’s okay. School looked different than we thought, and it was hard to plan ahead, but we kept going.
My kids have more skills—academic and social—than they did in September. Again, some of these might not have been the skills I would have chosen, but, again, I’m not in charge.
As I look back, I see how much more time we spent as a family, since other options were fewer and farther between. I remember my kids often mentioning this time in our evening prayer, when we each had a turn to say what we were grateful for.
At the same time, we also voiced our desires for things to be different. We chose to hope that someday, though we weren’t sure when, things would be better. Looking ahead, I think I can see some of that starting to happen.
We joke that the baby doesn’t know that people outside his family have more than eyes on their faces. But for our family, the reality is that our littlest one got more time with his older siblings that he would have otherwise. We spent less time in the car and more in the yard. We kept to our routines when we could and adjusted when need be. We survived this year, and I hope we grew closer to our Lord because of it.
We parents don’t want to see our children hurt or suffering. But what’s more important than protecting them is teaching them perseverance, fortitude, patience, joy, and hope. You can learn that at home, or at school, or on a Google Meet, if that’s where the Lord leads you.
What’s important is that we continue to train our eyes and our hearts—and those of our children—to be open to whatever He asks of us, however weird it may seem.
Lindsay Schlegel is the author of Don't Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God. She and her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband live in New Jersey with their five children.