The COVID-19 Pandemic continues to make demands on our lives and our schedules. Many children will remain with remote learning rather than returning to the classroom for in person instruction. Frazzled parents juggle a multitude of roles wondering, “How much longer will this continue?” We are weary of repeatedly making concessions. Yet we can adjust and view this not as a hardship. We are making adjustments and making memories that our families will be able to reflect upon in the future.
One of my fondest memories entailed no pandemic but involved unexpected change. I was in the afternoon Kindergarten at Riley School in Michigan City, Indiana. I was a middle child by then, and we were just settling in after our move to a new city. My older brother, Mike, would have been off at school doing whatever Fourth Graders did at the time. I have no recollection of my infant sister, Lynda, in these memories. Perhaps she was down for a nap, but she played no part in these special reminiscences.
What I do recall is that for a brief period, my mother was not working, and during the mid to late mornings before I would be walked across the block to school, I was alone with her and I felt very special.
We would sit in our small kitchen at the dinette table and she would mix up a bowl containing eggs, milk, and seasonings. She would dip slice after slice of stale bread into the mixture as she prepared my favorite French Toast breakfast. This was our quality time before packing me off for school.
I am still able to visualize two warm slices of the heavenly blend. It was divided into triangles and placed in front of me on a large plate. My mother served it with dripping butter that she added to the top of each slice. Most often, I selected Welch’s grape jelly to smear over the top of each segment. I preferred to save the maple syrup for the pancakes that would be breakfast on another day. A glass of ice-cold milk was always the beverage that accompanied those special breakfasts.
I savored every morsel of those morning meals. I cherished even more the quiet and conflict free moments we were sharing alone together. Sometimes, we would have Captain Kangaroo on the TV in the next room. It was our soundtrack and springboard for conversations about learning and school. I never felt more valued or more important than I did on those early before school mornings alone with my mother.
I felt certain those morning experiences would last indefinitely. But money was always tight in our household and my mother would soon be returning to work full time. Those leisurely weekday mornings of French Toast and shared mother daughter time quickly disappeared. They morphed into a chaotic shuffling of kids to sitters and school, parents to work, and pop tarts on the run. Yet the French Toast meals left a lasting imprint in my mind and my heart. More than sixty years later, I am still able to conjure the sights, smells, and tastes of those quiet mornings. I am also able to recall the joyful feeling of being special which I carried in my heart. That feeling lasted throughout my afternoon in Kindergarten and throughout my life as well.
So, parents, as difficult and challenging as it is, try to turn the situation around. Think of disruptions caused by an ongoing pandemic from a different perspective. Do not concentrate on the inconvenience and uncertainty that we continue to experience. Instead, try to hold in your heart that although we are making adjustments, and making memories that will last well beyond our current dilemma.