Entering the New World Like Riding My First Roller Coaster (Week 24: Day 167)

Tomorrow is the first day of school. It is the first day of the 2020-2021 school year. It is also the first day of Planned Online School. (Planned meaning that instead of a makeshift emergency couple of hours, we now have a purposefully planned out full day.) I feel like I'm waiting in line for a roller coaster. Except I hate roller coasters. I want to like them. I do. I've waited in several lines, psyching myself up for the ride. Every time I get to the front, I check out. I then wait dutifully by the pink-flowered bushes for my friends to have the time of their lives while I avoid the bees who so love the pink-flowered bushes. 

The one ride I did manage to get on was the Jurassic Park River Adventure Ride at Universal, Florida. You couldn't see the drop while you waited in line. It was supposedly like the log flume. I knew there was a plunge at the end, but everyone insisted it wasn't that bad. So I waited in line. As I got closer, my heart pounded, but I made it into a seat. I was squished into the middle, so there was no escape. We rode through several scenes from the movie. The first featuring some of the minor character dinosaurs. Then the boat traveled up a level. Then we encountered more and more terrifying beasts as we went along. Got sprayed by a few. Went up a level in between each scene. I tried hard not to count how many levels, each of which felt like a full story, but I found my heart pounding louder with each incline. Every level up, meant a level back down. Maybe it would somehow be fun? My body told me there was nothing to feel but sheer terror. I tried to talk it down. Then the T-Rex lunged out of nowhere and tried to eat us. I squealed too loudly, but it felt good to release even a bit of my mounting fear. The ride continued like this, scary dinosaur scene, up a level, more dinosaurs, more going up. Would we never get to the end? I kept telling myself that the suspense had to be worse than the fall. Finally we got to where the natural light streamed in. We got to the height of the drop and I saw the 85' descent of doom. Dear God. Is there a God?  

I can't help but draw parallels between that ride and this week. At first I was excited to be going back. I miss my kids. I'm sure they miss school. How much more boredom can we all take? But then after three full days of online meetings and trainings, my body and mind are numb. The ride ascends a level. Then instead of dinosaurs snapping at my face, I see kids being nervous (I am, too!). The ride goes up another level. I see parents being upset and questioning every possible decision made by the county, schools, and teachers (understandably!). Ride goes up another level. I see teachers beyond stressed out, but toughing it out anyway. What they wouldn't do for these kids. Ride continues up. Meetings go over time, up a level, more emails about required books and school supplies for myself and Chief Mate, up a level... More emails coming at me double, one set for parents and one for staff about how to log in, how to get students their meals, how to be mindful, how to use new software (who would change this right now??), how to keep kids interested and engaged, how to get supplies to kids who don't have any and haven't responded to any of the many daily outreaches from the schools, how to stay calm and forgive ourselves (seriously???)...The light at the top of the 85' drop is blinding. First day of school (God are you there?) is here. I will do my best to put my arms up, scream, and let go.

Happy schooling, everyone.



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