Monday, March 1, 2021

Best back-to-school day ever

Max returned to in-person learning at school this morning after a year of being out. He had some of the usual back-to-school excitement, and some hesitation. Me, I had All The Feelings.

Max has always enjoyed school. He's been doing fine with virtual learning, and his school did a great job of putting together work skill kits he could practice with at home. But now that he's fully vaccinated, Dave and I felt it was time for him to be back socializing with classmates, getting in-person physical, occupational and speech therapy and doing his work skills live. There would only be seven other students in the class. We were OK with the bus, too—there would be only one other student on it. 

Max started  expressing some reservations this past week. Yesterday afternoon, he burst into tears. 

"It's not safe!" he insisted, and my heart sunk. 

Transitions have never been easy for him. Like all of us, Max had settled into a routine at home. And so, after months and months of making it clear to Max that we were quarantining to stay safe, we had to convince him that going to school was safe. We spoke about how the vaccine would protect him from getting very sick, and that he'd be wearing a mask to protect himself and so would everyone else at school. We told him that the awesome bus driver he'd had for the last several years would be back, and that there would be only one other student on the bus. We reminded him that he would finally get to meet his amazing teacher, see his old friends and make new ones. 

We had to convince ourselves, too. I've read up on the research on  the low risk of Covid transmission in schools. Anecdotally, I have heard the same from friends who have kept their kids in school. Still, it was a big mind-shift for us all. We have no regrets about keeping Max home since September, even though his school building was open—he is high risk for complications. But the vaccine changes everything. Sabrina is going back to school this week. So is Ben.

Max listened to us. He calmed down. Then he smiled and said, "Suit!" 

He was joking that he wanted to wear a suit for his first day of school. 

We prepared for his return by staying up too late (Max) and doing all of the forms at the very last minute (me) because: some things never change. Max picked out an outfit—his favorite Los Angeles sweatshirt and navy blue sweatpants. And we did his homework together, a video recording of how he spent his weekend. Max enjoyed reeling off the foods he'd eaten (sushi, ice-cream, spinach pie).

When my children have returned to school in September, it's always felt like a fresh start and a relief. Today, I felt like a whole other kind of fresh start and relief: We have made it through a full year of at-home learning (and at-home everything). Max going to school was the first normal thing that's happened to our family. 

After Max had breakfast this morning, he got out the plastic stand that he uses to prop up his iPad and put it on the kitchen table. It was a total "Maybe I can stay home?" play. But then, once his jacket was on, he kept looking out the window for the school bus. Never in my life have I been so happy to see that bus pulling up to our home. It was as if it had never gone away. 

We walked Max down the steps and he headed over to the bus with a huge grin. I chatted with his driver for a bit, so thrilled to see her, and said hi to the new aide. Then Dave and I stood there and watched it head off. 

"It's hard to believe it's been a year," he said.

"I know," I said.

The kitchen table looked bare without Max sitting there. The kitchen felt so quiet without listening to him talk with his teacher. 

It felt weird.

And all kinds of wonderful. 


  1. This is so good for all of you. We are in a large school district, but population density isn't like you have in the NY metro area. Luke's high school has 1,600 - 1,700 students. There has been very little what is believed to be school transmission. (But the virus is all over, so it is really hard to tell). Luke went back in August - he is not a good virtual learner, and I'm not a good teacher. I'm also a single mom -- so I have to work sometime. Anyway, Luke is so much happier when he gets to go to school. He loves it. I hope Max has a fabulous day.


  2. Thats awesome!! Do you have any mask/drool tips to share, if thats an issue that Max still deals with? We're looking for something that can work without getting soaked quickly. Have fun at school Max!

  3. And wasn't it Max's first year of school as an adult?


  4. Way to go, Max! What a relief for him to be vaccinated and to be with friends in person again. Enjoy the quiet time!

  5. How wonderful! Has your state made people with disabilities one of the priority groups for vaccination? That is incredible! We are unable to get people with disabilities living in the community on the priority list here in Canada. Ugh!


Thanks for sharing!

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