Monday, September 14, 2020

2020-21 School Year

First thing this morning we headed over to the High School for Picture Day. Once we rode our bikes up to the school grounds, Noé was ecstatic. Everyone at Grant HS knows Noé. His autism quirks don’t camouflage well in a high school environment. And he is accepted and affirmed every day in his school community.

Noé understands routine. He knows once it is Picture Day, the First Day of School is not far behind. But I haven’t been able to figure out how to communicate to him that he won’t be attending school this fall (and let’s be honest, school will likely be online most all of this school year). Distance learning just doesn’t work for kids like Noé. He will lose an entire academic year. And high school is this kid’s last chance to be a part of a large, inclusive community.

All of our kids are losing out in all kinds of ways. And, this morning, I’m angry crying because it absolutely didn’t need to be this way. With the science and information we now have, the COVID levels that keep school unsafe are absolutely a choice our society has made out of willful ignorance and utter disregard for others.

Today, I’m mourning. And tomorrow - I’ll get to work trying to figure out how to make this school year work for both of my kids - and as many other kids as I can help as well.


Wildfires 2020

Asher asked me if the sun is supposed to be the same orange hue as Trump’s face. No, no it’s not, son. Our home smells like a campfire, even the indoor parts, and I have a raging headache from inhaling smoke. Yet we are so profoundly lucky to live in the city right now. Living three miles from downtown, if WE get an evacuation order all of Portland is going up in flames.

There are 500,000+ less lucky people evacuating near and around our city and more announcements every hour. So many friends and family packing up and leaving and wondering if they’ll have a home by the time the rain finally arrives on Monday. A good friend told me she had one of her kids take video of their home before they left to keep him busy amidst the anxiety. Now this friend and her husband (both firefighters in the county near Portland most affected) are off to fight the fires that threaten their own home and so many others.

My Facebook feed is full of friends and family looking for help with their animals, updating each other on their whereabouts, and sending photos near the heart of the Beast. And many others from the non-evacuation zones are offering up their homes, their yards, their love. Every time I look at the posts I’m saddened by the devastation and uplifted by all the goodness. I wish I could be more helpful. I wish I could take your cow and goats but I’m pretty sure that’s not allowed in Grant Park. I’ll find other ways to help.

And in a small corner of my mind I’m doing my own bit of mourning. We happened to take one of our pandemic-induced “we’ve got to get out of the house” family drives out to Clackamas County last Monday. We looked out at Willamette Falls and drove along the Clackamas River to the quaint little pioneer cemetery where my grandparents are buried. All of this beautiful land lies well within the evacuation zone now. I wish I had taken photos.

What did Frederick Beuchner say? “Here is the world, Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”

Don’t be afraid, and don't look away.