Back-to-school season is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be exciting. It’s a time for new school clothes, a clean backpack, a new lunchbox, and new teachers… maybe even a new school! That back-to-school giddiness we all know and love… you know what I’m talking about… but this isn’t it, folks.
Our daughter just graduated Kindergarten and is moving into 1st grade, at a new school that took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get in to.
She has autism, so every milestone is big in our house – except this year. That excitement has been overshadowed by an overwhelming blend of a global pandemic, mom-shaming, school shaming, choice shaming, uncertainty, and both passive and active judgment. Our daughter doesn’t understand this situation. She doesn’t understand the idea of a pandemic and why it means things look so different. What she does understand is that the building looks different, her teachers look different, her uniform looks different, and that mom and dad are stressed.
You see, we have made the decision to send her to school. In-person. In the building. In close proximity to other humans.
Crazy choice, I know.
We can’t get on social media without having to scroll through countless posts lining out the reasons why our friends are doing what they’re doing – school, no school, homeschool, virtual school, private tutor, etc. And each post seems to come with some self-initiated monologue of reasoning as to why one choice is better than the other. But therein lies the rub… there is no best choice. There is only the best choice you make for your family. Our daughter needs school, and we are grateful that the school we’ve chosen is offering that option.
- Yes, we understand the risks.
- Yes, we understand the rewards.
- Yes, we understand that you may be doing something different, and that’s okay.
Please, just be kind.
Hold your tongue and just celebrate with your friends who are excited about posting their child’s back-to-school photos in front of their new building or with their new teacher.
Hold your judgment when your friends post videos of their child playing sports and having fun.
Rethink your passive-aggressive comment about a friend who may have chosen to homeschool or try virtual school for the year.
Your friends don’t need to be reminded about all the ways you disagree with what they’re doing. Your friends just need to be loved in whatever way you can love them in this weird world we’re in…even if it’s just a comment on the picture to “Have a great first day!” at the school you disagree with their children going to in the first place.
Trust me, they want to celebrate whatever these milestones look like these days, but they thought long and hard about posting it at all. Be kind.