Let’s Do This!

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

3 September 2020

This week marked my daughter’s first day of Kindergarten at her big-girl school. It looked much different from what I’d imagined. And it was likely the most unconventional onset of learning my generation has ever seen. We kept some things normal: She picked out a fabulous outfit and took pictures with a sign to commemorate the day. I packed her lunch box and dropped her off with a tear in my eye.

Some things were other than normal: She had to wear a mask. She’ll only have two days of in-school instruction a week. And her schedule now allows for recess and mask-breaks. If there’s one lesson I hope she learns this year, it’s the importance of impermanence.

When I was Younger …

I’m sure you heard a story or two that started out this way: When I was younger, I walked to school in four feet of snow without boots. Or perhaps, when I was younger, we didn’t have to use car seats in the car. We barely had seatbelts. Well, here’s one of mine: When I was younger, I didn’t have to wear a mask to Kindergarten or attend class on an iPad 60 percent of the time.

But guess what? Things change. As humans, most of us enjoy a comfortable schedule and some predictability. But if we want to continue to evolve as a species, we can’t stay stagnant. Worse yet, we can’t lust after the past.

Some changes will be positive: I’m glad my children are safely in their car seats when I drive. If we get in an accident, I know their chances of survival are greater. I’m also glad we have reliable and safe school transportation. I imagine children suffer some sort of trauma having to walk miles in a blizzard without proper gear. Sure, they survived. But at what cost?

Contrarily, some changes seem negative: Distance learning and masks might fall into this category. But if our ancestors survived snow and lack of safety restraints, I’m pretty sure my daughter will survive wearing her 3-ply cotton unicorn mask to school and some extra screen time.

Keep the Faith

Like most things in the human experience, I’m sure we’ll figure it out. We’ll likely make some mistakes along the way that will teach us a few important lessons. But I’m willing to bet we’ll be more equipped to do better next time around.

As Nhat Hanh says, “Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.”

And as I say to my brave new Kindergartener, “Let’s do this!”