Welcome back to our Teen Voices of the Pandemic Series, which is a series I just made up in which I make my teenage daughter write my blog for me. But the truth is, it’s not just my own laziness and overall sense of pandemic-related ennui that’s inspired this series. It’s more that I am absolutely fascinated by the perspective that both of my kids, ages 8 and 14, bring to this global catastrophe. It feels like the pandemic will shape their worldview much more than it will shape mine (I was already jaded by living through the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine, and 9/11 before I even turned 21, to say nothing of Hurricane Katrina when I was 24.) Anyway, I more or less forced Ruby to go back to school yesterday. My parents and in-laws are vaccinated now. My husband and I are half-vaccinated. And it was just time for her to go back. Her story is below:
By Ruby Crawford
Yesterday was my first day of school – in-person school that is – and it was terrifying. Re-entering the world as whole is terrifying. Middle school is terrifying. But you know what? It was a blast.
I didn’t realize how much I missed simple human interaction. It’s always scary before you start something new: the anticipation, the nerve-racking idea of something new, and the excitement all combined into one. It can be scary to try new things, but you sometimes you don’t realize how much you missed an old thing until it becomes new again.
Walking through the building, I was nervous and practically shaking from anticipation. I looked at all the lockers wondering which one would be mine if it was a normal year. I stood in the hall trying to find my classroom, but if it were a normal year, I would have figured it out in August. If it were a normal year, where would I sit, who would I be friends with, what extracurriculars would I participate in? I was thinking about all the what-ifs as I sat in my seat in a classroom for the first time in a year. I sat in a classroom. It felt like a time capsule.
I was all-virtual prior to today, and I made some friends, I guess; I had my group, but it was different then normal school friends. We bonded over the pandemic rather than our shared interests or traits in common. Today was different. It was unlike any day I have ever felt. It was so familiar … yet so new. It was this whole feeling of deja vu.
Somehow it was like the time between March 13 and today had never happened. It was like riding a bike, only the bike was a different model. In my head, school would be like going from a bike to a unicycle, but it was unexpectedly fun. The human interaction was necessary and overdue. I connected with a lot of kids, and I fell back into the routine of the before world, with the addition of masks and social distancing.
Entering the world in its current state is not easy, or not as easy as it used to be, but with more vaccines available and COVID-19 cases slowing but surely deceasing, the new world is manageable. Some part of me was hoping that my first day would be bad – because that way I could go back to a safer bubble, but there are so many precautions in place that it felt OK and it was so good to see people again.
I will say, if you have the chance to go back into the real world, even if it’s a little trip to the store, I hope you do. I understand that it’s sort of dreadful beforehand (and The Before World was bad enough with angry people), but it can and will be fun and emotional. It’s a stressful process, with all the people and anxieties, but it was very helpful in terms of getting back to normal life.
There was also a part of me that was overjoyed to go back, and that was the rational side, it turns out. I overall really liked going back and having actual people to talk to rather than a screen.
Before you enter the world again, I recommended making a list. I love lists, so take that advice as you will, but it was helpful for me
- Will it hurt anyone you love/ are the people in your life who are most at-risk vaccinated?
- How safe is the situation? You can look at data as well as precautions certain locations have in place. You obliviously shouldn’t go anywhere that is unsafe, such as parties and large gatherings, though.
- What are the benefits, and do they outweigh the cons? For me it was yes.
These are some simple questions to determine whether it is best to remain isolated or to join us in the real world because it can certainly be worth it.
I’m glad to be back at school, glad to be back worried about middle school drama instead of a pandemic killing people I love.
We’re not back to normal yet, but this felt like a really great first step.