By Julia Gervais
Two pairs of eyes begin to roll and both boys snicker whenever I talk about the ‘good old days’. Children ran to school. We shared stories, sugarcane, lunch, pens, pencils, books, rulers, compasses; you name it, we shared it. My pencil case always went home with interest – as I found pencils left behind by careless children, my stash grew.
Summer holidays were exciting! We visited Grandma in the ‘country’, rode mules, played in the river, caught shrimps and anything else lurking in the water. We cooked outside using a coal pot and we couldn’t care less that there was no electricity. It was not a problem except when we needed to use the toilet in the middle of the night (it was outside); literally the pit!
After two weeks, Mom took the long journey to collect us, only to return home empty handed; we were never ready to return. Every year she repeated this little ritual. We had so many stories to share when we returned to school!
How things have changed.
Summer 2020 has been a mega-staycation. The few who dared to travel overseas have had to abort their trip or face house arrest on their return. What stories will children have to share in September? Travels between the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom? A drive-by visit offered a chance to wave and smile at grandma, the old phrase ‘look but don’t touch’ took on a whole new meaning. Virtually everything in life happened online. Initially students couldn’t wait to see their school friends. Now they’re not so sure. Could these friends be the enemy? Covid-19 super spreaders?
As a child I remember being told, “School days are the best days of your life, make the most of it.” I said the same to my boys. Looking at the situation now, I wonder who’ll deliver on that promise. I received an email with back to school instructions. Here are some of the highlights: Walk or cycle to school (if possible avoid public transportation), walk only with siblings, get to school no more than 10 minutes early, head straight home after school (my son thinks this one is definitely my idea), and absolutely no sharing. Not pens, pencils, rulers, or snacks. No exceptions. There was a time not long ago when ‘sharing is caring’ was the mantra. Now it seems ‘sharing is NOT caring’. As for stories, what’s there to share? We’ve all got the same story, one that can hardly be heard from behind the mask anyway. The best days of your life? Hmmm…
“In everything give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Not FOR everything, but IN everything, irrespective of the situation. Does God really expect us to be thankful now? What sort of ‘best days’ are these? God would have us to grow our faith, learn resilience, treasure our families, and appreciate all we have (including memories). God would have us make the best of this situation. Challenging times are the ‘best days’ for building resilience. We can be thankful for all we have learned through this experience.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Whether going back to work or school, things will be different; God is still the same (refer to my previous article Covid-19 Secure). So clean your shoes, iron your uniform, pack your bag. This growing faith and new found resilience will shine through all you do as you go back to school September 2020.
Dear God, we can’t see ahead but you can. You’ve said everything will work out for our good if we trust you. Please help us to do just that from this point on. Show us how to manage our anxieties, in the name of Jesus I pray, amen.