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Empty Desks

Heading into August, I find myself thinking about how different this year’s back-to-school ritual must seem to kids and their parents. Our local schools will begin their fall classes with “distance learning,” another new term to add to our growing pandemic lexicon. This presents so many challenges for everyone involved: teachers, working parents, families who lack connectivity and, most especially, the children.

Before summer break, I watched our grandson squirming in his seat, laptop on the table in front of him, eagerly waiting to be “unmuted” by his kindergarten teacher so he could tell her about the quail we saw on our walk that morning. He was so excited to have found an animal whose name begins with the letter “Q!”

A couple of years ago, I volunteered in a second-grade classroom. I looked forward to those Tuesday afternoons—the vibrant energy of those students—their smiles, their laughter, their progress. I enjoyed being “Mrs. B.”

I’m hopeful our recently graduated seniors are as resilient as I believe them to be. I felt sad they missed so many of the traditional events that crown their senior year.

A note about the child’s desk in the photo.  Vintage 1900, the legs are cast iron and the top is covered in red leather. It was mine when I lived with my grandparents as a young child on the East Coast and it has a story of its own for another day. My grandchildren use it sometimes when they visit, lifting the lid to pull out paper, crayons, and pencils as I did so long ago. It survived. So will we.

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