I’m not sure I know how to feel about it all, to be honest – it’s a complex business. I do know a few things – I know that come 8 March, I will have six hours a day to do everything that I’ve been squashing into two, and that I will be MUCH less exhausted as a result. I know that the boys will be back where they belong: with adults who know how to teach them, who have access to a world of brilliant resources to do it; and with their friends, who can give them the practical lessons in socialising and relationships that I can only talk about.
But I also know that I will have to bring back the morning routine – dragging them out of bed (that’s not been a problem since mid-December), berating them for not doing the things they’ve been asked to do 10 times, and corralling everyone out of the door at the same time.
I know want more time in my day when I can be a writer and web designer, creating for other people and for my own satisfaction; having time to network more, and connecting with more fabulous clients; and finally working on expanding what I offer. I know that in the same way, the boys need to have hours in the day when they have their own focus in their own worlds, learning from and connecting with their people too – people who aren’t just our family.
I know that I’ll be watching the clock again each afternoon as pick-up approaches, marvelling at how the time ticks away much faster after 1pm. I know there’s a little dog here who will miss them during the day more than I can possibly know, and who will be overwhelmed with joy every day when he sees them come out of the gates.
I know that as hard and exhausting as it’s been, I have loved being part of their learning – seeing up close how their brains tick over when faced with their work, how they solve Maths problems and come up with their own sentences. I’ve loved discovering which subjects light up their eyes, and which ones take a little more effort. I’ve had a vague idea about all this, but there’s nothing like seeing it in action, and I know so much more about how to help them with the work they’ll do at home.
I know that thousands of parents have struggled beyond measure with homeschool; I know that thousands have loved it; and I know that thousands are in between, like me. For all of the exhaustion, this time at home with them has been a gift for me, one which has brought all of us closer, and I feel very lucky for that. I know the boys will miss each other just as much as I will miss them; and they also need a break from each other as much as I do. I know that in spite of the gift, I will be glad to back to being just Mum to them, and not Teacher as well.
I know that thousands of teachers – already overstretched and overworked – have worked harder than they ever have over the last few months, working in school and at home, and that they are exhausted and longing to get back to teaching children only in the classroom, where they can see the impact of their skill and passion for teaching; watch their pupils absorb knowledge; and see who’s struggling, who’s excelling, and who’s doing just fine.
I know that the boys have done their best, but they have had enough of the disruption. One of them said last night that he doesn’t want to go back, because he is afraid cases will rise and schools will shut again, just like last year. I know that I want this all to be be over for them.
I know that on 8 March I’ll be kissing them goodbye, and sending them into their classrooms with a shadowy fear at the back of my heart that it’s less safe than keeping them at home.
I know that they have to go back to school. I know that the world has got to return to something like the way it was. But I also know there is still a new danger out there among us that we still don’t fully understand, and have only just begun to fight. I know that if it were to visit our family, it could be with the lightest touch, or the most devastating blow – and we have no way of knowing which one it could be.
I know that the schools we are lucky enough to have here are the best places for them to be, and I know their precious primary years are slipping away too. I know that playing, laughing, chatting, socialising, falling out, making up, telling tales, getting in trouble, saying sorry, and learning alongsie other children is vital for their healthy development, and they have missed out so much on every one of those things in the last year.
And because of all these things I do know, I really don’t know how to feel about 8:30am on Monday 8 March.