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to my kids on their first day of school, 2020: 

There are so many things you will never understand.

Like calling the radio station to request your favorite song, listening diligently for the entire afternoon to hit play/record as the song starts. You save it on an old cassette that has been recorded over seventeen times. 

You will most likely never use a payphone. Sticky receiver in hand, calling Collect to mom, and when the operator says “will you accept a collect call from _______” you quickly shout “I’m-at-the-gas-station-come-pick-me-up” and then hang up before mom gets the charge. 

You will never understand the world back before we held it in the palm of our hands. Quick connections, thousands of photographs, fact checking life with a few taps and swipes. Back when we knew what we knew, and we let our imagination fill in the rest. 

But I also realize, there are so many things you are experiencing as you navigate these teenage years, that I will never fully understand.

You made the choice to return to school--a choice?! I never had to deal with this.

You wear a mask, but you’re still smiling. 

As you walk the halls you will hear talk of fear and worry, he said she said, I’m right you are wrong. They and them and IWOULDNEVER and finger pointing in every direction. I imagine it will start to feel heavy as you carry it all. At your age, all I carried was a backpack slung off one shoulder, a few books and gym shorts in tow.

Your world is unpredictable. We have learned that things can change overnight. 

I’m sorry that I don’t have the answers for you--even us moms don’t know what is coming next. But let’s take things one day at a time, ok? Knowing the little that we know, that life can change tomorrow, let’s enjoy what we have right NOW. Classes. Friends. Bits of normalcy scattered throughout our days--let’s look for those.

And know that I admire you--how you bend and shift and go with the flow at such young ages. How you make the abnormal seem normal, and look so comfortable in a world of discomfort. I have so much to learn from you this year. There are many things we may never understand...but let’s all promise to try.

Love, mom

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