There’s always something new around the next corner…that’s what I tell people on staff who are surprised at all of the things that come up at North Forty News on a daily basis. As it goes in business, so it goes in life.
I try not to be surprised when the next thing comes up. But I’m human and 2020 has been one big corner and try as I might to take change in stride, this year’s been one big change after another.
Take this past week — it’s been challenging.
While the President is in the hospital with COVID, our children in Larimer County are heading back to school. In our house, we decided it was best to trust that our children would be safe and that their teachers would be too.
The day my 7-year-old went back to school started out like most over the past 8 months. Except that he seemed more nervous than usual. It’s October. And this was his first day back in school since March. I don’t blame him. We were nervous too.
Together, as a family, we walked him to the door of the school. He stood on the social distancing dots that had been painted on the ground, his backpack on his back with his mask tight against his face. We hugged him. We told him it would be okay. (But will it really be? Both his parents were worried.) Then, he walked into the school building.
Throughout the day it was the quietest it has been in our house in 8 months. Actually, it seemed like something was missing. Lunch wasn’t the same. Even the dog seemed uneasy. I watched the clock and I couldn’t wait to get over to the school to see how he did. I was actually early — and I’m hardly ever early.
I observed other parents. There were only a few waiting for their children at the door. I looked down the street to the school and saw cars lined up for the pickup line. The parents weren’t getting out of their cars. I actually thought I didn’t get the memo that said “Stay in your car.” After I checked my phone for the missing email, I learned that most of the parents chose to stay in their cars.
I stood there like a child waiting in the principal’s office. Then I saw a few more parents and the kids started coming out. Amidst the confusion, the school bell never rang. Our teacher was reluctant to dismiss. But she did (about 10 minutes after school was supposed to be out) and the kids started slowly filing out.
They didn’t go to the playground. They went straight to their parent’s cars. A few of them went to the busses, but not many.
When I asked my son how his school day was, he said the typical, of boys his age: “Fine.” When I asked him if he was looking forward to the next day in school he replied “Well, I do it every day on the computer.”
I’m glad he didn’t really see a difference. But I did. It seemed like a scene out of a movie about a pandemic…much like the same feeling I had when I was delivering our newspapers during the shutdowns in April. The streets were empty. The lines in the grocery store seemed hundreds deep. And all of the toilet paper was gone!!
But back to the first day of school — perhaps Dad was just being a worrier.
I frequently tell myself, whatever is around the next corner will be positive. My youngest son will get face-time (in person and virtually) with his classmates, better interaction with his teachers. There will be less frustration in our home, less frustration at school and things will slowly return to “normal.” The new “normal” won’t be the same, but nonetheless, we all will adjust.
Now we have 2 weeks to get the hang of things before my oldest son goes off to middle school for the first time.
If I’ve learned one thing about the next corner, it has been that it sometimes looks worse than it really is. As I have heard so many times over the last 8 months while out in public — “We got this!”
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Blaine Howerton (printed out under signature)