In 45 minutes, I will meet my new transitional kindergarten/kindergarten class. In any other year, they would have arrived on the playground. Some clinging to a parent’s hand or leg. Some running ahead, anxious to establish their newfound freedom. Some crying and sobbing. Some laughing with a readiness to explore new territory. And some would have been in the middle. Excitement mixing with anxiety, wonder with dread…for parents/ families as well. I would have waited with anticipation. I know the answers to the beseeching eyes. I have been here many times before. I know how to embrace the overwhelming enthusiasm and how to quell the anxiety.
But this is different. This year we will not meet on the playground. This year, I will not meet parents in person and look them in the eyes. I will not kneel down on one knee and look children in the their eyes. We will meet on Zoom because we are in the middle of a global pandemic. We will meet in little squares on a computer screen. This year in Los Angeles, school will begin remotely…virtually.
And so it is I who is experiencing both these opposing emotions, simultaneously. I am overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities and yet I am sitting in a pool of angst as I wonder what uncertainty awaits us.
This morning I talked a former student down off the ledge. For a five-year-old to leave their first year of formal school (their very first classroom) and enter a new classroom, the ritual is still daunting in person. But in a socially distanced world, it seemed impossible. There will be no hugs from old friends and physical contact with new friends so the concept of the things that mark the beginning of a new school year is all in theory. and theory does not really translate to young children. We do the best we can.