We just returned from watching our first-grader participate in her elementary school’s dance festival. Later today, the kids will have a “field day,” complete with a bouncy house.
I was surprised to find myself teary-eyed. It wasn’t from her “wobbly knees” as she danced to Beach Boys music, or seeing the fourth-graders square dancing or marveling at all the cute sixth-graders that would be in junior high come fall.
I was teary-eyed because it was just all so normal. We are emerging from the “long dark” blinking into the sunlight because all at once (it seems), it burst forth. Just like all dark times, eventually, they fade and the sun shines again.
It’s been more than a year since we put a screeching halt on all things “normal.” Last year’s school year didn’t end with a dance festival or field day. It didn’t end with a cap and gown and a boring commencement speaker. We all know what it was like to be home, “crisis schooling” during a once-in-a-century global crisis.
After months in lock-down and more than one surge of the virus, things slowly started getting back to normal. Masks were everywhere, but we could eat in a restaurant again – socially distanced, of course. We started to travel, masked and tested, but at least we were moving again. And then, literally overnight, most restrictions were lifted and we got to go back to dance festivals and field days.
It’s been a long year. I’m glad it’s coming to an end, and frankly, I hope to never repeat it. But it hasn’t all been bad, either. As we go back to “normal,” whatever that means, I know that there are some things I don’t want to pick back up. I’d like to not “pick up” a 3-hour commute for one hour of meeting time, for example. Zoom will do quite nicely, thank you. I don’t want to “pick up” taking health care workers and teachers for granted. They’ve done incredible work this year.
Some things I hope to take with me into the new normal: more time for reading with kids and using tech to connect – even my 4-year-old grandson in Texas can video chat with me. I am grateful for the technology that was unfathomable to me growing up. I think we’ve all found new and exciting ways to use that tech.
I want to take an appreciation for relationships that can endure physical separation, and gratitude for those relationships that were strengthened by shared trauma (only partially kidding). I want to not forget those long months in the figurative darkness of the pandemic. Someday, I’ll rock my great-grandchildren and tell them what it was like when the world stopped on a dime.
Today, though, I’m just really grateful for dance festivals and field days.