Adjusting To Normalcy

Across the world children are heading back to school although what they knew to be a scholastic experience has changed quite a bit. In some places they have kids attending school a few days a week. In others it’s for a few hours whereas in many places in Europe it’s been business as usual for good long while. The word ‘bubble’ has changed the meaning it used to hold and it looks like the connotation is going to be with us for a while longer.

While most Indian states grapple with the notion of reopening the schools and when to do so, the ones which have already started off the process find that the adjustment to campus life isn’t a cakewalk; neither for the school, the parents and of course the children themselves. With schools that are offering the hybrid model of attending classes, it’s a stretch with allocating their teaching resources to cover both in-person and online classes for the same grades and do it without dropping the ball on the quality of education.

For the rest of us the raging debate of should kids go back to school without the benefit of the vaccine to will the third wave actually hit sometime soon; it is an ongoing balancing act to decide about resending the children to an environment which is more fun for them for sure, but is also less protected than the one they have become used to for the past 2 academic years. And while attending classes in pyjamas isn’t an addiction that can’t be dealt with, the entire discipline that surrounds the whole process of schooling is something that kids will still take time reacclimatising to.

From getting up at least an hour earlier than before to riding the bus and standing in the lunch queue to not being able to get up and stretch one’s legs in between classes or have parents pop-in for that quick look-in to check if the child needs anything, it’s a big change to get used to.

I was away from home while TO rejoined in-person school and Red messaged me saying the house seemed really quiet and empty without him there. Although there was a regular amount of strict parenting going throughout the day while he was attending online classes, there was something comforting about seeing him hunched over the laptop while I went about my day.

While I’m not seeing my child struggle with his disenchantment for online lessons any further I am also dealing with a regular worry of either him or his peers coming down with coughs and colds which could potentially turn into something more serious. And while this worry isn’t debilitating, it’s not something am able to shake off either. His environment was so well-regulated for so long and under the supervision of two adults who had no greater goal than to keep him safe; relinquishing his safety to others who are miles away is something I struggle with.

What makes it easier is seeing him head out the door without the heavy zombie steps he used to take towards his laptop at the start of every school day while at home. He comes back happier too and while I shake my head that the kind of stains he inevitably gets on the pristine whites of his school uniform, it’s this kind of normalcy that I had also missed right from the middle of March 2020.

Whether the pandemic is entering into an endemic stage, whether the third wave is nothing more than just a slight blip, whether the vaccine for children is genuinely going to help keep them safe; as a parent our worry never ends. It eases a bit when you check in on them while they’re fast asleep or when you see them eat their fill, play their hearts out with their friends.

And I sincerely hope that’s where the world is slowly heading back to; parenting shoving their kids out the door while they’re still putting their shoes on and the school bus is about to pull away from the curb or the chidings about leaving assignments till the last minute. Am mighty sick of face masks, sanitisers and social distancing. It’s not the kind of parenting any of us want to do. We all want to tell us our kids off for the good ol’ reasons that have been handed down to us over the generations.

Amen!

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