Back To School. A statement that used to serve as a benign reminder on a calendar for the start of a new school year has become a loaded question for so many parents today. No more witty office supply commercials showing euphoric parents zipping through the pen aisle like it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Back To School is now at least one headline on at least one news channel every day. And it seems everyone has a position on whether or not you send your child back to school.
I was prepared to discuss the options openly with my family. Not just with my immediate household, but also my parents, my in-laws, and all those who come into close contact with us. I wasn’t, however, prepared for the judgment I heard in the voices of co-workers and acquaintances on our decision to return to school full-time and in-person.
Don’t get me wrong; everyone is entitled to a position on this subject. After all, it DOES affect not only my household but also the household of the teachers, administrators, and faculty of the school my child will attend and, ultimately, my community.
We did not arrive at this decision easily. And it’s fair to say we’re not 100% comfortable with our choice. How could we be? This is a no-win situation. Either keep your child home and stunt his intellectual and social growth for years to come (and your mental sanity) or send him back to school, risking his health, our health, and the health of everyone around us. And the obvious choice is? That’s right; there is none.
And while I do feel justified in how we arrived at our decision, I don’t feel the need to share our rationale with everyone we know. So maybe we can file this discussion under the same tab as other personal parenting choices. We shouldn’t tell a mother “breast is best” if we see her bottle-feeding a child. We don’t know the struggle she’s endured in choosing to bottle feed. “Fed is best,” we tell the new mother.
As a community, let’s encourage, support and allow parents to choose what’s best for them when faced with either in-person and virtual leaning this year. Let’s apply “Fed is best” as this answer in yet another guilt-ridden decision parents have to make where the line between “right and wrong” is as ambiguous as it is personal.