You are not alone. You are doing a great job. Your children are superb beings.

April 9, 2020

Dear Friends,

This week I will embellish my list, which, as I mentioned last week is my preferred mode of expression these days. Since last writing, I have been keeping a list of images, thoughts, and topics for you. Now, a la Sam Sifton of the NY Times Cooking Section (who is a lifeline by the way), I plan to create a little digest of the things I’ve stored up, for what it’s worth.

Here’s the list:  

Bernie

Passover

Easter

Plagues

Family closeness

Jigsaws and how they’re made

Meal planning

Cat vomit frequency

Musical instrument learning

Poetry

Inadequacy

Fellowship

Here goes:

For some reason, I was not prepared for Bernie Sanders’ announcement yesterday that he was ending his run for President.  Being a Warren supporter, I thought I had already grieved. I had reconciled that Biden would just have to do.  Begrudgingly, I let go.  Or so I thought.  But, when Bernie’s announcement came, my thoughts instantly went to my son, Jude, who simply adores Bernie, his socialist ideals, his gruff righteousness, and his empoweringgrassrootsness.  Bernie captured Jude’s attention and made him more conscious of our political system and who benefits from it.  When Bernie stepped aside for Biden, it seemed Jude’s hopes were dashed.  Seeing that on Jude’s face hit me hard, and it made me look for the same thing in the faces of my colleagues, my Facebook friends, and Zoom meetings, and I got that same dashed feeling from them. No one deserves to have their hopes dashed right now. It’s just not fair.   Godspeed Bernie.  Thank you for all you brought to the table, for fighting impressively and passionately for a better world.  I wish you a lovely, restful, well-deserved Passover with your family.  

As teacher Susan Miller-King said of Passover yesterday, the recitation at Seder of the ten Plagues will be especially poignant this year.  Her sentiments were echoed so movingly by Elizabeth Dias in the Times yesterday, who wrote, "The plague element of the Passover story feels real for the first time — the completely overwhelming feelings of fear, anxiety and despair. As sad as I am to be away from my family, it’s a worthwhile price to pay for having a Passover together next year."

I am sorry for those of you who will not be able to be with your usual loved ones at your Seders this year.  For you, and also for those in the middle of Christian Holy Week, and for all who celebrate renewal and rebirth in their own ways each spring, may your blessings this week take new form and offer you joy and comfort.  

As I have learned from this community, so many unexpected appreciations are possible in a pandemic.  Of course there are the devastating disappointments too. Sometimes these are connected. Always lessons are learned.  For instance, uninterrupted family closeness can lead to …more closeness!  Kids do more dishes, tell you more stories, give more hugs, and ask for more help, because, hey, what else are they going to do? Some of you have mentioned epic activities your family has embarked on, while stuck at home.  Jigsaw puzzles seem popular, even if really only one person is actually making any real progress, while others just sift and sift, while talking about what’s for dinner.  If you haven’t seen this piece about how jigsaw puzzles are made, it is very cool.

I know a good portion of our parents are “essential workers” who are not eyeball to eyeball with family right now because they are needed out in the world, and others still are working from home, maybe hiding in closets to get away from hugs, questions, or stories.  We see you too.  Whatever your particular parenting situation, you must agree that in pandemic times, meal planning can as easily turn into a groundhog day bummer or focal point of joy.  Hence, Lara Finck’s cartoon this week in the New Yorker.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that us being at home more, and kids having more responsibility, does not mean that the cat throw-up gets cleaned up more reliably.  Working from home this month, I am officially blown away by how often my cats throw up.  And I’m beginning to wonder if it has always been this way, I just wasn’t home to notice it.  OR if it is because I am home, and I’m making Kiki and Tilly’s stomachs hurt because I am so stressful to be around.

To reduce stress, I find that music helps.  I have some new favorite musicians I’ve been listening to (Cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason is one).  Chris Sanborn is listening to a lot of music too, and he is organizing a staff wide playlist co-op.  I will try to share some of the playlists they make with you next week.  Speaking of music, I am beginning to feel hopeful that a good portion of the school’s students and families will get significantly better at, and/or newly discover, a musical instrument while "school-homing" (as Kathleen Gorke’s kids call remote learning).  I, myself, am trying to find my ukulele in this increasingly cluttered house so I can take our music teacher, Ann Percival’s new ukulele classes she’s recorded for us (see below).  AND our students will probably become better writers and readers during this prolonged remote learning period.  Many of you have mentioned reading more, and some I hear are getting special joy from poetry, which feels perfect for those of us with compromised attention spans.  (My favorite poem for this week is below.)  

Finally, to those of us who, amidst all the suggestions and blogs expecting inspiration and creativity, or while parenting in the time of Covid, are feeling huge waves of woeful inadequacy, I give you this Bulletin and tomorrow’s All School recording as comfort offerings, a pause, a distraction.  While you sit for a while in Center School fellowship, remember this most important little list:  You are not alone.  You are doing a great job.  Your children are superb beings.  And you are too.  

Be well,  

Charlie

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Charlie Spencer, Head of School
Contact Charlie: Email
Phone: 413-773-1700
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