I’m not doing a very good job of blogging lately and I would apologize except there is a pandemic going on, and I don’t know what day it is, and I just think we are all doing the best we can.
Before I go any further, I would just like everyone to know that I understand and grasp the fact that I am safe and healthy in my home, and that my loved ones are safe and healthy in their homes, as well.
I understand, and I am so grateful and thankful for all of the people putting themselves at risk every day – everyone in our health care system, grocery store workers, delivery people, etc.
The following is just how I’m feeling and is not meant to trivialize or minimize what is happening around me while I am safe and healthy at home.
If you’ve been around for any length of time, then you know that I love to tell funny stories, and make people laugh, and keep it real. I like to talk about all the mishaps in the classroom and tell the truth, and spin things so that when kids are driving us insane with interruptions, we laugh about it instead.
But you guys.
This is just so hard.
We found out on Wednesday of this week that we are not going back to school at all this year.
I was Face Timing with Kerry at the time, and I started getting teary-eyed, and then she started getting teary-eyed and, the next thing we knew, we were both crying. Her daughter – my niece – is a senior and just like all of the other high school seniors out there, she is missing out on so much. They live in Texas and they don’t know yet whether they will return or not, but the reality of getting to use my plane ticket to be there for her graduation is looking less and less like a possibility every single day.
I am just so upset with myself. Because you know that I’ve been on here writing about how much harder it’s getting to teach, and how my class won’t listen, and how these kids are driving me crazy, and how I went to a retirement workshop to figure out when I can retire, and when I found out it’s not for a very long time, I had to eat pasta to cheer myself up.
You know I’ve been blogging about ALL OF IT.
And what I would really like to do is go back in time and slap myself, and tell myself to WAKE UP, it’s all going to go away, you won’t get to step foot back in your classroom, you will not see your kids IN PERSON for MONTHS, and everything you know is no longer.
I mean I JUST TOOK IT ALL FOR GRANTED.
I just did.
I took EVERYTHING for granted about normal life, such as being able to have bread, and garlic, and a Rotisserie chicken whenever I needed it, and see friends and family whenever I wanted to, but I’m just going to stick to school and the kids and the classroom for this particular post.
I took school, and the kids, and the classroom for granted.
And I know school isn’t CLOSED.
I’ve seen those posts. I’ve seen them.
I get it. The BUILDING is closed.
I get it.
And I’m making the best of it with Zoom. I am. Weekly Zoom meetings with my kids are giving me life. They really are.
BUT IT IS NOT THE SAME.
It’s nowhere near the same.
It’s not supposed to end this way.
These kids. This class of mine. My heart.
We were rehearsing for our class play because for the first time EVER, I was not going to do it at the end of the year in May. We were scheduled to perform in front of our families the week before Spring Break.
Which means my kids knew their parts, knew the lines, knew every word to every single song, and asked me EVERY SINGLE DAY are we going to practice the play today?
And if I had just waited, if I had just kept things the same, and not worried about how stressful the end of the year is, my kids would have had no clue about the play. They wouldn’t be dealing with the loss of this, as well.
I have a Teacher’s Kid in my class this year, and this teacher happens to be a good friend of mine, and she said when she told her son we are not returning this year, the first thing he asked was BUT WHAT ABOUT MY PLAY?
I mean what do we say to that? How do we answer that?
These kids. This class of mine. My heart.
They will not go on our field trip. We will not make butter using whipping cream, sitting in a circle, and passing the container around and around, singing, and laughing, and shaking it and checking it . . . and then eating it on Ritz Crackers.
We won’t plant seeds. We won’t water them every day and look for roots, and freak out when we see a bud, and then watch as two weeks later, the stems are so tall no one can even believe it, and they won’t ask me every single day can we take our plants home today?
We don’t get to have Open House and show off our classroom, and all of our hard work.
We won’t have Field Day.
We won’t have our last Awards Assembly.
And while I grabbed as many books as I could carry, there are so many books we won’t get to read.
We won’t clean out our desks. We won’t talk about how this is the last time we’re going to have Sharing, or this is the last time we’ll hear the Birthday Song, or this is the last time we get to go to the library as a class.
My heart hurts for these kids who don’t even know how the last three months of first grade are some of the best months because we have come so far, and learned so much, and it’s time to use that knowledge and our expertise to soar and shine and thrive.
I know I can attempt to do the class play on Zoom. We can sing on Zoom. We can take turns sharing on Zoom. I know.
I can tell them how to make butter and we can make it “virtually”.
I know all of this.
I appreciate – in advance – the well meaning comments I might get about how this could work, or I could try that, or how a video might solve that other issue.
I just don’t care right now.
I’m pretty sure I’m in one of the stages of grief. I just don’t need a solution right now.
I don’t want to hear it.
I am just sad.
It’s not supposed to end this way.
And even though it’s only the BUILDING that might be closed, distance learning is nowhere close to the real thing.
You can’t hug your kids through distance learning.
And I still have six students whose families have not returned any attempt by me to get in contact AND I AM WORRIED ABOUT THESE KIDS OF MINE.
If you’re sad, I get it.
And if you took it all for granted like me, I understand. This closure has put so much into perspective for me.
I am relying on my faith in our Lord who is not surprised by any of this. He is not surprised. I am praying, as always, every single day. When I start to feel anxious or lost, I pray. I pray for my class, my kids, for you. For all of us.
I pray for comfort, for healing, for forgiveness.
I pray for wisdom.
And my God is good. He is so so so good. And He knows I’m sad. And I take comfort in knowing that, this too, shall pass.
Even though . . .
It’s not supposed to end this way.
Even though it is.
Raegan Bowden says
I know exactly how you feel. I too am struggling with all of this. I am in Houston and we are hoping we get to go back May 4. but I am not holding my breath. I miss my kids and my routine that I worked so hard to ingrain into our day. My third graders finally were getting into the grove of it. You are correct. I think we are all grieving for the past normal. I just keep hoping that everyone I love and care for comes out of this alive and safe. I am doing my part and staying at home which that alone may do me in. Keep the faith.
I helped do food distribution at my school yesterday, and saw four of my little kinders through their car windows. We waved and blew kisses and yelled “I miss you”, but not being able to hug them just about broke my heart.
Carol Polston says
I totally understand all you’re saying. My heart hurts for all the teachers and kids having to deal with this. I am sad for myself because this is my last year. I am retiring May 28th. I feel like this experience has been ripped for me (the last few months of school and all the activities we were going to do). It hurts to have parents tell me their children cried and said they won’t even get to see me next year (they all knew I am retiring).
This is never an experience that we ever thought we’d live through for sure! I am very thankful that all these steps have been taken to keep us safe. I am thankful for technology that allows me to see my kids and keep in touch with their parents.
This will certainly be an experience none of us will forget for a long time!
Thank you for being so open to share your feelings.
Barbara Gruener says
What a time to retire; I am praying for peace and provision for all retirees who will miss their chance for the closure that we’re used to, that we crave, that we thrive on. Blessings as you reminisce on a magical career of being a difference-maker, a joy-bringer, a game-changer!
Jenni Taylor says
Thank you for putting into words exactly how I’m feeling. Our stories weren’t supposed to end this way.
Nancy Howerton says
Great post. I have a senior grandson and I can’t even imagine what he’s missing. I know you’re doing a great job with your kiddos. Hang in there! As you so aptly said, God has this—and all your kids! They will be fine. Stay well—next year will be such a joy! Stay well!
It wasn’t supposed to end this way. But Kristen, thank you! I am so thankful that you taught me to tell my students that I love them. I was wary of doing it. I was nervous to say it out loud. Would second graders look at me like I was crazy?? No. They just leaned in. We connected. And I am so thankful that of all the years , this was the one where I had already told them I love them. So I know they know. And that is a comfort to me.
Liz Asbury says
I know, this is all so hard. Hugs and prayers to you, Kristen. Thanks for being to put my feelings to words.
Barbara Gruener says
Reading your post right after virtually attending Palm Sunday services makes me think about Passion Week and Jesus’ disciples. It wasn’t supposed to end that way either. Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss. Peter denying that he even knew Jesus … THREE times, the disciples falling asleep and taking for granted that their friend, their mentor, their LORD needed them in that moment, to stay awake and pray with Him. It wasn’t supposed to be like that, but it was. And they grieved and hid and grieved some more. God knew their disappointment and distress, just as He knows ours. And then, JOY came three days later, in the wee hours of the morning, when that grave door opened and AMEN! He is Risen.
And though I’m reminded of that by your post, it doesn’t mean it’s even remotely connected. I certainly don’t mean it to sound like a comparison, because we know that comparison is the thief of joy. And we can’t let anyone steal those remaining shards of joy, right? Just maybe more of a connection, to say you’re right, that God saw this coming and that when He brings us to hard things, then he also brings us through hard things. Trust and obey; that’s our calling right now. And pray.
I join you in praying for those families you haven’t heard from yet, and in grieving the loss of so many firsts and lasts with your firsties, of grieving life as we knew it and connection and hugs and community. And especially for that niece of yours in TX and her class of 2020 around the globe who are painfully left longing for what they’re losing, what they’ve already lost. I’m not sure if we’ll go back to school either, and, even if we do, it’s likely to be strained and awkward and weird and short. I also join you in praying for the farmers and the helpers and the people who are risking their lives to save ours.
Thank you for your vulnerable, honest, raw account of where you are today. Praying for you as you grieve the goodbye, celebrate what was, and plan for our new normal when we rise up from this season of sadness.
I.AM.RIGHT.THERE.WITH.YOU. Thank you for sharing your heart b/c it reflects mine & so many other teacher’s across the world.
I, too want to thank you for encouraging me to end each and every day (even the hard ones) with “I love you!” I hope that it carries my sweet Kindergartners through these crazy times! Thank you for everything you do to brighten our days!
Pam Darnell says
Thank you for being honest! It’s so hard to put a positive spin on things, when one of your little kiddos asks you during a ZOOM meeting, “When are we EVER going to get to come back to school?” I am feeling the same way that you so candidly expressed, and I am trying so hard to give my kids some meaningful experiences, but I feel like I am falling SO short of the mark! Add to that, the worry of what will happen in the Fall! How am I going to teach my little Kindergarteners to read if I can’t sit right next to them? We have already had the privilege of making connections with our current students, but how do you do that with NEW students if we have to continue Distance Learning in the Fall? (I teach in a multi-age K-2 class, so at least part of my class will be returning students, so I realize I am so lucky in that respect.)
And the technology! My head is swimming with trying to integrate so much new technology (to me anyway!) I officially proclaimed yesterday as “Terrible Technology Tuesday” because it seemed like everything I did yesterday was an EPIC FAIL!
I know we will get through this, but it’s nice to know I am not the only one going through the “grieving process.” Hang in there!!
Mark Huffman says
I read your blog often…and this post is how I feel. I know I am not alone in experiencing these feelings, but sometimes hearing someone else say it validates it in a way that thinking and saying it just doesn’t do. It is the grief of knowing that the last few months of the school year are filled with the fun time activities that help to showcase their skills. Your point being we took for granted it would always be there….yes we did. I sit here in my house tears in my eyes, reading your post and thinking with each sentence and word….this is how I feel too. It is good to share our true selves I think so that we are able to deal with highly unusual situations such as the pandemic that made us say good bye without really knowing it would be the last time. I was lucky enough to have each and every student there the whole last week before we closed school. On the last day as they left I said to them (and I really thought I would) I’ll see you soon, but now although we have seen one another on the google hangout it is just not the same….so happy to see them, but to not give that fist bump, high five, or hug of encouragement or kind word of praise or the teacher look of hey buster…we’ve got work. I so hope to see my own kiddos in the fall, but they won’t be mine….they will be the sweet kids of the third grade teacher. Thank you for your honesty….the cry it gave me from reading it was good. A little dose of therapy…and if you need mental health help do not be afraid to reach out to the professionals, it was what helped me survive the fall. Remember we aren’t in this alone, but when we must social isolate and stay away it feels very lonely. I feel I know my friends in a way I’ve not before, and I look forward to being a better person….more complete and honest and in touch with my feelings than I was before this whole thing came along. I want to appreciate what we have while we have it…because you never can tell when it might go away!
Nancy Howerton says
You have amazing friends—you are all just the kind of caring teachers I pray for my grandkids! All of you be strong—hold on to your faith. And when you go back, never take things for granted.
My favorite verse is so very appropriate for our lives today. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Praying for you all!