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For the first time in forever.

(Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash)

I am abuzz. Positively abuzz. I’m thrilled to bits, and there’s a bounce to my step. Why? Because I have big plans, that’s why!

The children are back at school, 4 days a week/ 5 hours a day. They’re not so thrilled about leaving their warm blankets in the AM. But once they step out of the car, those little faces light up with what I can only describe as “unbridled joy.” Happiness is too simple an emotion for something as momentous as going back to school after a whole, horrible year. They’re ecstatic, awed by the nostalgia of being on campus, but oh-so-flexible about everything new.

Reya has been excellent with distance learning and the lockdown. The chaos of the new normal hasn’t impacted her too much. While she is still an intense six-year-old, she has evolved into a resilient child who is confident in her choices. Our daily interactions have ebbed and flowed, but our bond has never been stronger.

Nirav, however, has had a more challenging go of things. The past few years have already been hard for him, with new diagnoses of ADHD and generalized anxiety disorder. Now distance learning has thrown him for a loop. He is a visual learner who needs 1:1 attention from trusted educators. The routine and consistency of school ground him, so he has struggled at home, even on the best days. Driving up to San Francisco, hitting the swimming pool, trips to the zoo/museum, riding subway trains, and walking around with wide-eyed wonder at every station. These were his ways of unwinding and decompressing. But 2020 changed all that. His world shrunk to the four walls of our home, and his mental health suffered for it. Even bike rides and neighborhood walks lost their charm, and he soon began spending the entirety of his days at home.

So being back on campus these past two weeks feels extra special — like Christmas has come early. He now has two safe spaces where he’s accepted in all his quirkiness, where people know and love him for the goofball he is. What a privilege to be able to leave home and get to school. He may not say those exact words, but I can sense he knows it.

There is a new routine I’m doing with the kids. Every night at bedtime, I tuck them into their blankets — hers brown and his blue. We gab for a bit and go over the next morning’s schedule:

Wake up. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth and toilet. Clothes, jacket, shoes. Get into the car and reach school. Kiss Amma goodbye, mask on. And go!

He repeats the schedule loudly at first, then under his breath. She squeaks and hugs her pillow. On sleepier nights, they smile up at me while I stroke their unlined foreheads. Soon eyes droop, and their breathing gets quieter. I tiptoe away and plop on the couch and think about the chaotic maelstrom that the past year has been. But a part of me feels guilty. We’re privileged to access food, shelter, vaccines, and the best medical care in the world. Not everyone has that, or something even close to that. So I’m scared to verbalize my happiness because I don’t want to sound insensitive or tone-deaf.

But I’m also tired of being scared. I’ve been sad and despairing for so long. The last year has dumped a world of hurt on everything and everyone. I’ve cried myself to sleep more nights than I can count, unable to soothe my son or reassure my daughter. There has been little cause to celebrate and even less reason to smile. So if there’s even a glimmer of hope — respectfully — I’d be foolish not to enjoy it!

That’s why I’m abuzz. The children are happy, safe, and back at school. At home, I find myself alone. Not lonely, but alone and content with that. And my big plans include sitting in a dark, quiet room—coffee in hand, phone on silent, and my feet up.

And for the first time in forever, I’ll do absolutely nothing.

 

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