Why I haven’t written in months.
Reopening the school was an emotional experience. It was hard not to feel scared, anxious, and angry. It felt dangerous and irresponsible. We’re we really ready to go back? What if there was a boom in infections? What would it look like with so many of our teachers stuck in other countries? How would we run classes? What would a day with no physical contact look like with 1st graders?
I felt like I was on a rollercoaster and it was just scary and no thrills. We were trained on how to fight a fire during one of the trainings before reopening, we also learned how to handle a fever, which included how to wait in a “safe room” with our kids until we heard if the fever was caused by covid. We wondered what would happen if a fever was found late in the day and we had to be stuck at school with children ready to go home. None of the directors of the 4 campuses were in country, so someone kindly got me worried about increased liability. Everyday there was something new to worry about.
The other emotion that was easily triggered was anger. I felt angry a lot of the time. I was angry because we were going back with only 6 weeks left. I was angry because most teachers were not in China and we were opening. I was angry because I thought we’d be online until summer and had found a rhythm. I was angry because I had to play the role of school warden instead of teacher; “keep your mask on” or “keep a meter apart”. I was mad because when the kids were at school the homework that had been too tough and took all day and night to do took an hour so they needed distracting but the kind that kept them separated. I was mad because some teachers got to just show up for 40 minutes from home and I was there all day trying to figure out how to make time speed up. I was angry because my co-workers overseas were so excited when we were told to reopen and they weren’t here to help. I was mad at my school in general.
I was also sad. I had become used to hours with Carter during the day and I didn’t want to have to give that up. Despite his tendency to undo all the things I was working on, to rip my example projects, to demand that we watch Luna while I was working on lessons or grading. I would miss the long afternoon walks in a nearly deserted waterfront area. I wanted to keep having endless time with him and spend time just following him around. I loved every minute of my time working from home (after the first month).
As we got back to school my brain started making the connections I couldn’t see before. It also started helping me see things in a different light.
My anger at the school was the first thing I wrapped my head around. My school had to reopen because the government was reopening schools. If we didn’t, we might have all been looking for jobs this year. So I helped myself and others stay employed. It also wasn’t dangerous or poorly planned. There were a lot of new routines put in place to do the best we could to protect all involved. Things also changed and evolved as we learned more and got better at being back to work.
The time I had with Carter has been cut some but I can still prioritize him. I spend less time away from him during non-work time. I bring him with me when I meet with friends a lot of the time. I just needed to put daddy before all those other names I call myself (artist, writer, gamer, etc.).
My co-workers that weren’t in country took a little longer to forgive. I knew in my heart it was irrational. We were in extreme times and we all did the best we could to cope. The original school closure date happened over a holiday. So a lot of people had been on vacation and decided to stay where they were. Some had went home to see family they hadn’t seen in a while. Or to meet a new nephew. As covid progressed here, a lot of people that had stayed left. I have said in the past that I had seriously thought about leaving at one point too. I decided against it because I was worried about getting it during the trek to the US. It made sense to me and that is why I say my anger at them was irrational. Feeling irritated when those same coworkers tried to congratulate us for passing the government inspection to reopen or when they cheered our return to school was a horrible feeling. It wasn’t a feeling I liked or wanted to admit too, but it was there and it was real. It was also unpredictable. I have written this blog post 4 times now and had to stop and walk away 3 times. My writing would become angry and didn’t reflect the right message, a message of a community forming to deal with the various challenges we were facing here. The thing is I was not mad at people individually. I was mad at the collective “missing co-workers”. The same people that were wishing they were back in China. It didn’t make sense. I am not angry anymore just excited that they are starting the process to be back. I am also a little sad that some others aren’t coming back because they accepted transfers or decided to pursue jobs where they found themselves the last few months.
So now that I admitted to why this post took so damn long I can start writing them again.