A moment of transparency, A moment of frustration, A moment of release…
A year ago this time, this was the face of a happy, healthy elementary student. An A-average scholar excelling at the top of his class academically in all subject areas. A student who showed no academic delay at the beginning of the school year, despite the fact that he had not been provided a quality education for the majority of the previous year, after one of his main teacher’s sudden retirement prior to Christmas break.
A student who lacked access to the quality “whole child” education “through teaching, learning, collaboration, and innovation” that his school system promotes through its mission statement, because oftentimes some of the “innovative” stuff doesn’t make it to his zip code. This is the face of a student accustomed to beating the odds stacked against him without ever having to realize that odds even exist.
This was the face of a jokester. A gentle-spirited, yet often defiant young boy just beginning to test the boundaries of discipline, academics
This was the face of an elite scholar, Boy Scout and member of the school’s drama team.
The face of a high achiever who asked “why” even when the relevant answer seemed obvious and one who questioned every answer that he missed on a test because “that’s not what the teacher said”.
This used to be the face of mischievousness and care-free.
The face that beamed with joy during outside moments with friends and family vacations.
But this face no longer tells that story.
Although this is still the face of my wise soul with the intuitive mind and vivid imagination, my IT guy, my gifted one, my comedian, it now bears the look of worry.
This new face is the face of frustration, and over-analyzing. The face of second-guessing and doubt. The face of tired and confused. The face that needs answers to questions that remain unanswerable, and the face of uncertainty and fear.
This new face has new eyes that look tired to me. They look like they are longing for normalcy and familiarity. For connection. For relaxation. For rest.
These new eyes look like they need a break. They need a break from the computer screen that has somehow become their source of education, entertainment, family connection, social connection and total lifeline in a matter of months. These new eyes need a break from the electronic box that has someone boxed them into an isolation that feels unfamiliar.
These eyes look like they are screaming, “Help Me Mommy.”
“I’m trying to do my work, but I need validation.”
“Yes, I know the answers, but I need reassurance that I know the answers, because I’ve never had to not depend on the reassurance of my teachers.”
These eyes look like they are crying for help.
Like they are saying, “Mommy, please don’t fuss when I’m behind on my work, because I’m doing the very best that I can and seeing my teacher twice a week and being expected to do so much on my own is very hard for me.” These eyes scream, “Save me from myself, because I feel out of control.” “I miss my friends.” “I miss my family.” “I miss my life.”
Last night, this face and these eyes scared me.
This face and these eyes made me cry for all of the mothers who had to make the decision to put their child in virtual learning because their child was afraid of contracting Covid-19 and then exposing their family members.
This face and these eyes made me cry for the mothers who had to make the decision to lie on the form that said that they would have adult supervision for their children who were learning from home because they really couldn’t afford to stay home to provide the adult supervision, yet they were uncomfortable sending their children to school.
This face and these eyes made me cry for the mothers who stay up in the wee hours of the night assisting their children with homework and then going to work to assist other people’s children, yet still get lumped into the basket with other that “parents aren’t doing enough”.
This face and these eyes made me cry for the teachers who have been forced to teach in a new environment, with challenging demands, yet tirelessly trying to maintain balance with their own mental and emotional health.
This face and these eyes made me realize that the devastating effects of this COVID-19 pandemic are extremely more traumatic than most people have realized.
This face and these eyes reminded me of the need for compassion over compliance, and presence over progress.
This face and these eyes reminded me that ultimately mental and emotional Stability is much more important right now than the failing grades that currently exist in the teacher’s gradebook.
They reminded me of the need for patience, and support and reassurance.
They reminded me of the importance of love and grace and connection.
Today, this face and these eyes reminded me to be still and to reflect on how well we’ve been able to maintain, in the midst of it all.
They reminded me of the need to use my voice to speak up and out for all of the other similar faces that don't have anyone to spot the longing in their eyes.
They reminded me to “release” and of their need to do the same.
Today, this face and these eyes reminded me of so many things, and above all else, I’m thankful that I took the time to notice.