Send Your Kid To School. Or Don’t.

Kids don’t come with a handbook. At least, I don’t think they do. If they did, no one gave me one – which is messed up. Who would I call about something like that? It would have come in handy.

So much of raising these little humans comes down to personal decisions. You, as the all-knowing adult, decide what is right and what is wrong in order to lead them to the best possible outcome. In almost all cases, these decisions differ from person to person.

They reach across a wide spectrum of categories and children. What should they eat? What clubs should they join? What friends should they have? What age is appropriate to do certain things? Should they go to school? Should they…?

Wait, what? Should they go to school? Really? If this was a year ago, that sentence would have been a typo. I would have meant McDonalds or Hell or something. But school? When did that become a personal decision?

For us here in New York, March – that’s when. That’s the point where sending your child to be surrounded by other kids that, even before a pandemic, we referred to as germ-magnets, became a matter of choice.

When they first shuttered our lives right before St. Patty’s Day, I remember being incredulous. My daughter, closing in on the final quarter of her sixth grade year, asked me if her school concert, a few weeks away, would be cancelled. I did the Dad thing.

Ha ha. No. It won’t be that long.

Weeks came. Weeks went. They cancelled it.

That’s when she asked me if her birthday, still two months away, would be doomed to quarantine. I stayed dadly.

Ha ha. No. It won’t be that bad by then.

It was. Two months on. Two months down. She had one of those car parade things.

After that, she asked me if school would be fully open by September. I replied.

No idea. Let’s watch TV.

I’m not sure when I gave up optimistifying my way through Covid, but I did. I went from laughing it off as a temporary issue to accepting fate. It was frustrating. It was annoying. It was confusing. In the end, it was reality.

So, here we are, embarking on another school year and, for the first time ever, it has become a personal choice. Do I keep my kids home and let them do their lessons through Google and Zoom or do I send them off to do it in person? I decide. Could be nothing. Could be everything.

And that’s crazy.

If parenting-decisions were a video game, this is the last level. “How many Goldfish crackers they are allowed to eat” is level one. “The proper age to allow them to wear make-up” is like level five. Whether they should spend the day in a potentially deadly school or hide in the house for months on end is the final boss.

It’s insane because a year ago, I was up at school fighting for my special needs son to get more school. I battled for in-home lessons and face time with teachers. It’s something that many parents would have applauded me for then. To many now, doing so is like fighting to get him more cigarettes. Talk about a 180.

So, now, let me give you my big advice. That’s why you’re here, right? Should you send your kid back to school, if that possibility is offered? OK. I’ll tell you. Ready?

Dunno. No clue. You do you, Boo Boo.

Seriously. I don’t know your kids. I know mine and that’s sometimes a coin flip. We’re allowing my son to continue in-school lessons since distance learning didn’t work for him. As a non-verbal boy with Autism, he got more out of the summer program when it was back to normal. That’s not to say your kid will. Even if your kid is non-verbal with autism, he’s not mine. I can’t give you an answer.

My daughter’s week is going to be mixed. It’s half there and half home. We’re cool with that. She’s itching to get out of the house and, after hearing the precautions they are taking there, we’re OK with it. That’s our choice. That’s our kid.

You’re a different house with different people. Maybe your child is freaking out about coronavirus and making them enter a building of possible disease is a fate worse than educational regression. I get it. You have every right not to send them. Don’t do what I do. I won’t do what you do. We do what’s right for our families.

That’s the real moral here. Don’t let anyone guilt you into doing what goes against your instincts. If school is a possibility, you have every right to accept that. Education is important and, if you feel safe, you should go for it.

By the same token, so is health. If you don’t feel safe, don’t. Keep them home. Let them do things at their own pace and the pace you decide. It’s your decision.

This is uncharted territory. As moms and dads, we’re journeying into a world that no one would have ever imagined. We’ve seen toilet paper become a commodity and murder hornets come and go. Now, we have to decide whether the activity that our children were mandated to do for six hours a day their entire lives up until six months ago might be detrimental to their health. That’s 2020 for you.

If tomorrow, you are waving them goodbye as the bus pulls away or fixing them breakfast before they login to a Google Meet in pajama pants, know one thing for certain. Whatever decision you made, you’re right. That’s what parents are for.

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