Parent Perspective: Reflections on the New Normal & Moments that Matter

I remember the exact moment I talked to my kids about the fact that The Children’s School’s campus was closing and we were about to begin remote learning. We were walking from campus to our parked car on Argonne and terms like social distancing were still new in our conversations. My sixth grader, Imani, looked a little unsure of what to say or think. “How am I going to do X or Y if we’re going to school at home?” “We’ll figure it out,” I assured her. My third grader, Jabari, jumped right in and declared: “Well, I think it’s gonna be great. I’m gonna go to school in my pajamas!” he said with a smile.

Fast forward to today and Jabari is the first to admit that adjusting to the “new normal” of shelter-in-place hasn’t been all smiles in our home. Speaking for myself, I’ve had plenty of moments of exhaustion, frustration, and stress. Some days have felt hard, some routines have been nonexistent, and sometimes our lives have seemed unrecognizable. But, as I sort through moments over the past several weeks – like that particular walk from campus to Argonne – I also find memories worth remembering and sharing. Not surprisingly, many of these moments include TCS and speak to the heart of what it means to be a part of our community, including:

  • Talking to Imani about “The Giver,” which is one of my favorite childhood books and she’s just finished reading it with her sixth grade book club. During one of our conversations, I listened in awe as she told me: “You know, you can’t really experience the happy parts of life if you’re afraid of the painful parts of life. It goes back to free will. That’s a theme of dystopian novels.” Shout out to sixth grade rockstar teachers Gabby and Suzanne!     
  • A friend arranging a game of Apples to Apples over Facetime among multiple TCS families. We only played for ten minutes and there were smiles and laughs all around. What word best matches the word ‘Smooth’: Beach, Hummingbird, or Snow? If you’re wondering why this doesn’t make any sense at all, you haven’t played Apples to Apples… 
  • Celebrating Passover as a family. Even though it looked a little different this year, we’ve never had more people reach out to wish us a Happy Passover or Chag Sameach – including TCS teachers and friends who aren’t Jewish but remembered my family was celebrating. Diversity is our strength.
  • Tripping over cardboard cutouts on Imani’s carpet to discover she’s created a 3-D scaled model of her dresser as a math assignment by applying what she’s learned about ratios and proportions. Project-based learning is alive and well! 
  • TCS colleagues who know I don’t cook have reached out with every COVID-19 cooking hack they find. Haven’t heard of Garnish & Gather? Now you have – courtesy of Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations Christie Parke.
  • My husband, Eric, playing Fortnite with Jabari and his third grade friends – only he isn’t as skilled as they are, so they rally to protect him as they play. I still have no clue how to play this game.
  • Listening to Jabari brainstorm topics to write about as he practices third grade opinion writing. “Mom, can you help me think of reasons why students shouldn’t go to school on Saturdays?” Our conversation quickly erupts in laughter because it’s a constant stream of him telling me: “I already thought of that.” I’m wondering why the show wasn’t called “Are You Smarter Than a Third Grader?”
  • Texts, phone calls, emails, and more from every corner of TCS just to check-in, connect, commiserate, and remind us “we’re in this together” and “we’ve got this!” For the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack

As I write and share these moments, I know they don’t mitigate the very real challenges we’re all facing right now and will continue to face. But, these moments do remind me that even while campus is closed, my children are learning, they’re still feeling connected, and just as importantly, I’m still feeling connected. TCS is more than a physical campus, school, workplace, or community – for my family, it’s a critical part of our sense of home. These moments matter. My family will remember them and I’m grateful to the Wolf Pack for making them possible.

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