There are infinite types of sickness, loosely defined as the act of being affected by illness, physical or mental. Sick can run the gamut from needing to take a day off after working in the hot sun too long to gathering the wagons and making your last wishes known. It is sniffles. It is the inability to slow down your brain even though that’s the only thing you want. It is cancer. It is the unwillingness of your heart to continue beating. It is certainly this Voldemort affliction we live in fear of today but dare not speak of. “I’m sick” is both something you tell your toddler on a Saturday morning when your headache means you don’t feel like getting up at 6 am and the first line over coffee when you don’t know how to tell your mom that some personified, potentially terminal demon is threatening your very existence. I’ve had these conversations, both of them. The latter one is disturbing as it starts with nausea and ends with tears. Sick, if I may give it a personality and use it as a proper noun, is scary because it almost always brings its tacky cousin Pain along for the joyride. You never know about Pain. Will he leave as soon as he gets vamped by a wicked city woman or will he stay way past his welcome? There’s your loosely veiled I Love Lucy reference. Pain and Sick are the ultimate villain tag team. The Joker was a bad dude. But, when The Joker and Catwoman joined forces, look out. There’s no defeating Cesar Romero and Julie Newmar. So, being sick is scary. There’s only one thing more terrifying – being the person who takes care of the person who is sick.
It seems the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in Texas and the rest of the nation has caused education administrators to rethink what school is going to look like in the Fall. Social distancing, the wearing of masks, the need for gloves, and proper sanitation and cleaning of classrooms may take a back seat to virtual learning, once again.
When we were children, we were, the majority of us, indoctrinated into a meat and potatoes world. A meal wasn’t a meal without some form of red meat and a root vegetable. I could go on and on about the role the government played in creating a post WWII food pyramid that shouted praises of what we had at our disposal during this unprecedented yet unpublicized foot shortage, rather than actually educating us on what was healthy. We’ll save that conversation for another day, since this whole entry is merely one of my attempts at a very bad analogy to introduce a very scary topic. Gulp. But, more about the meat and potatoes. We lived our whole lives thinking that was healthy! We shoveled in more meat. We gobbled down more potatoes: mashed with CREAM, laden with BUTTER, smothered in CHEESE, pummeled with SALT. What’s better than a little healthy - a ton of healthy, right? We meat and potatoes gluttened our way into rampant heart disease territory. We didn’t mean to. We really thought it was healthy. What a rude awakening. Our parents didn’t know better when they fed us. We didn’t know better when we first fed our children. Then, we woke up in a weird low sodium, meat is the devil, lactose problematic, potatoes are evil world that eschewed bad fats. It was hard, learning to eat better, but we began to see that it was detrimental to our survival as a people. Plus, veggies had gotten a bad rap all those years! Bring on the Brussels Sprouts! Welcome to analogy #1.
The last 8 weeks of the 2019-2020 school year ended in a whirlwind of chaos and uncertainty. Teachers, students and parents rode the wave into virtual learning that for the most part served no purpose other than justifying teachers’ paychecks. Diligent students participated in the exercise while many others enjoyed an early start to summer break. The overall success of teachers and students being thrust into virtual learning has yet to be determined. However, the reemergence of school in the Fall could benefit from a properly planned, staffed and funded virtual learning alternative.
Six months ago, who would have thought we’d be where we are today? Riding out a global health pandemic right into social protests and demands for justice and equality for African American people. We have never had dual social disaster before (at least as far as I can remember) and I hope we never have it again. The fact is, we are where we are. This unfortunate time provides a good opportunity for each of us as individuals to reflect on who we are, who we claim to be and who we endeavor to become.