So, it’s almost been a year. At times it seems endless and at times as if it all started just a few months ago. It also is steeped in learning and growing – we have found all new ways to live together and apart – to work together and apart – to sustain ourselves and each other without touching, hugging, or holding hands. And we have gotten good at it, I have to say. There is joy in the moments and at the end of a safe and productive day. There is light at the end of the tunnel which becomes brighter with each week.
Some of the children in our care have now been in masks a third of their lives. They took to it like ducks to water and have not looked back. Preschoolers are exactly the same as they ever have been except they wear masks now. They are funny and creative, eager to learn and full of the urge to explore, to try and to experience. This has not slowed them down on their own personal journeys to grow and learn.
What will be the impact of the separation they have experienced both at home and at school from friends and extended family? How will the lack of conflict (in a room full of divided spaces and individual play spaces, there is little conflict) inform the growth of their negotiation and other social skills? What will it be like when we can all be together again – will they jump in joyfully? I imagine they will: just as they have adapted to this new normal, they will adjust again. Children are so adaptable.
Most of all, I have missed my time in the classrooms, closely observing our educators at work/play, joking around with the 3-5 year olds and seeing the world through their eyes. I miss seeing their faces and interacting with them in all the myriad of ways a child experiences the richness of the classroom. Last week, two preschoolers were playing with the farm animals and were talking about “Abigail, the security cow”. The teacher asked, “Why a security cow?” “It’s Abigail”, they said. “She makes the rules and keeps us safe.” You know, I’ll take it; this year, I am happy to be the security cow knowing they know I am keeping them safe so they can play.