Sunday, April 19, 2020

April 19 Update

Dear Parents and Guardians,

How are you? I ask this question not as a typical greeting we offer each other at the start of a conversation, but I ask this questions out of a sincere curiosity of how you all are faring with the impact of the pandemic and the resulting stay-at-home order. I suspect many of you are feeling like Larry, a parent and advice-seeker, who wrote to a therapist in the advice column from The Atlantic which I will include later in this message.

Larry wants to know if he is doing enough to help his children cope with the stress and isolation that comes with being kept at home for an extended period of time. Like him, I bet many of you wrestle everyday with questions such as: Am I pushing my kids enough with Distance Learning? Am I being too permissive with screen time? Am I doing the right thing when I prioritize my own responsibilities over helping my child with her Distance Learning work? What will I do if my child falls behind?

In her beautifully written response, the therapist asked Larry to consider what a good airline pilot will do and say when her plane encounters turbulence. She might be worried or even be scared, but she would regulate her emotions, tap into her resources, ask her passengers to take the necessary precautions, and let them know they will ride the turbulence out together.

I think during any time of uncertainty when there are more questions than answers, all of us are looking for someone who is in charge. That person may not know exactly what to do at every moment, but she can make us feel that she can guide us through the turmoil without offering us promises she knows she cannot keep. That person can only do so if she keeps herself physically, emotionally, and mentally well.

We are all flying through a pretty rough patch of turbulent air right now, and our students are looking for the adults around them to be in charge. That begins by making sure we are in control of ourselves. Yes, your children’s education during this period of school closure is important. However, thinking about your children’s Distance Learning experiences may not be helpful if you are not spending more time considering their as well as your own well-being.

The following advice the therapist offered to Larry resonated with me:

“Steady yourselves first, then listen to your passengers on this voyage, validate their feelings, communicate honestly as circumstances evolve, and be flexible about shifting course as conditions change. I say that if you take this approach rather than worrying about the right projects, the right amount of screen time, the right words to use, you won’t even need the PA system for your kids to hear the one message they need to feel safe right now: I’m here, and I’ve got you.”

Here is the rest of the article.

So, I will end this message by asking you again, “How are you?” If the answer is, “Not well”, I hope you will take time to center yourselves so you can be that reassuring pilot for your children who are riding through this turbulence with you. We are fortunate to be part of a community that is able to offer a lot of resources to help those in need. Therefore, if you need support with meeting you or your family’s needs, please check out the district’s COVID-19 website. It contains information related to health and wellness, support for food, as well as myriad of other resources that the school district and other community organizations offer. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need support.

Stay healthy and stay strong!

James Lin 
McCall Middle School

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