Yesterday, our school district rolled out surveys asking us if we wanted to continue remote learning or move to a modified in-person experience. There was a big debate in our house and in the end, we settled on remote learning for my son for another four months. I don’t love the decision, but there’s not really a perfectly good “right” answer on what to do. There’s a lot of benefits to the in-person learning experience that I hate he’s missing out on, but the risk of exposure to illness, given some circumstances within our family, outweighs them. For now at least. Life seems to be more confusing and I feel like I am being faced with many more impossible decisions these days.
It’s funny in a way. When this whole thing started, my son was pretty pleased that he got an extra week of spring break. And then came the novelty of school that didn’t really count! Online learning opportunities with optional homework and worry free quizzes. But then the reality sunk in. This was not going away. I was grateful that my son was a sophomore. He at least had a shot of experiencing all of the good stuff high school had to offer in the years to come. Let’s face it – we don’t remember all of those school lessons as much as we do the experiences we had. The high school football games, the homecoming dance, the last spring concert, the friendships and the fun. Those are the memories we hold on to. And right now, kids are being stripped of those experiences. They are sitting in their houses at makeshift desks, separated from classmates and assisted in their learning by unqualified and overworked teaching assistants (aka Mom and Dad).
Does this sound at all familiar? I’m guessing if you are a parent of an immunocompromised child you are reading this and saying, hello??? This is my life you are talking about! My everyday, never changing life. This is my child’s life. The isolation, the missed experiences, the moments we can’t ever get back. Those are the things my child lives with every day, all day without an end in sight.
What a humbling experience these decisions have been for me. To think that I am suffering from my one time decision of whether or not it is time to send my healthy son back to school is pretty petty really. And I’m making this decision alongside thousands of other parents whose kids are in the same boat as mine. That sure feels a lot different than being the only parent of a kid stuck at home, left out of basic childhood fun memories while the other kids go on living their normal lives.
I know that the whether-or-not-I-send-my-kid-to-school decision is not comparable to what parents face when their child is immune compromised. I realize that for most of these parents their kids are undergoing painful treatments or living with long term, life altering conditions while they are going through their isolated states. I can only imagine the added stress that gives parents when trying to decide on risk versus reward for their children. But I am going to look at my own experience right now as a blessing. I am going to let it make me more compassionate and empathetic to the families that will come to our facility. I am going to pray that it will open the eyes and hearts of the community at large to help us build Lily’s Pad. And at the end of the day, I hope Lily’s Pad will not only be a refuge for the kids it serves but also a place that saves parents from having to make one more impossible decision.
– Dawn Garza, Director of Ops and Future Ambassador of Worry Free Play!