After a fall of tragedy, the spring has brought a season of great unpredictability. There was (tempered) optimism when the sun came out and the vaccination process began to pick up steam. The issue of variants still hung in the air, but an efficient vaccination process might quell that. Then spring break happened, and Texas and Arkansas, and definitely Florida. (Why Florida?! Why?!). Now the numbers are starting to shift upwards again, at a seemingly higher rate than the number of vaccinations.
As a consequence of this back and forth, many schools have been halted, started again, halted. One Manhattan parent, Eric Umansky even reported, “Our kids, a second grader and a fourth grader, [have] done five in-person school days since the previous 10-day shutdown and 19 total since the New Year. Everyone in our apartment [is] struggling.”
It got me wondering, what is the impact of this back and forth on our children. This level of unpredictability has got to cause an incredible amount of anxiety. One never knows if they will be under the pressures of confronting a school environment or isolating from it, situations that offer completely different sets of challenges. That said, as the cliche goes, “kids are resilient.” My son had eight cavities filled yesterday, so that had to anesthetize him. Several hours later he wanted to go out and play. When my daughter shattered her wrist, she wanted to ride her bike two days later, and reported it wasn’t in any pain… These creatures are inhuman in their capacity to heal sometimes. Who are these robots?
But in other ways, they are ill-equipped to handle the pressures of a constantly changing world. While they might not reveal their hidden pains, they still feel them inside and given no context, have no way to process them. Why put them through the stress of constant back and forth if it’s unnecessary?
This is why my wife and I have elected to withhold my daughter from school this semester, regardless of school availability. Predictably marginal seems better than the intermittent but unpredictable excellence. If there’s one thing we should be able to guarantee our children in a chaotic and insane world, it’s a slice of consistency. Significant learning of any kind would seem impossible with a constant.