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Brendan Largay, Head of School

A Reluctant Walk Down Memory Lane

Prepare yourself, everyone.

My best guess is that narratives about ‘all that we have lost’ and how things used to be will begin to dominate social media platforms, newscasts, and newspapers and pop up in the reminders on our smartphones in February.

February 2020 was the last month, locally, when things still ‘felt normal.’ We were still going out to restaurants, live sporting events, concerts, theater performances, and places of worship and enjoying countless other things that now seem like vestiges of another life. So much has changed since then. As such, I offer some guidance on navigating the pending onslaught of memories from a different time for yourself and your child.

As adults, we can categorize these memories rationally, and as painful and disappointing as they may be, we keep moving forward. I am mindful that many of your children do not yet have that same capacity. As we know, so much of their world has changed, and the feelings of loss are very real for them—ask any family who has been a part of a quarantine period. Coping with feelings of loss is a developmental challenge for young children and adolescents.

So, what guidance to offer then? Certainly, don’t avoid discussing this past year’s losses and your child’s potentially big feelings about them. First, it’s likely to be impossible given how loud I expect this narrative will be. Second, it may feel to a child like a bit of adult gaslighting, as if they can’t trust their own experiences of the world they live in or the restrictions imposed on them. Instead, I encourage you to honor the discussion by acknowledging what is different today from last year at this time and do so with emphasis that ‘different’ and ‘bad’ are not synonyms.

For all that we have lost, children might need help recognizing some of the things we haven’t. Some of those things—an onsite learning experience, the chance to see friends and family every day—are common to all Belmont Day students. Others may be unique to you and your family: new family traditions that have emerged through the pandemic or mastery of new skills like puzzle-solving, journal writing, video gaming, or meal preparation. This is not to gloss over the reality that things are very different. Yet viewing the next month through a frame of deficit–measuring rather than investigating and celebrating what we have gained is likely to leave your child, and perhaps yourself, feeling the worse for wear.

The natural counterbalance to the weight of loss is looking into the future—a future that includes vaccines and an improved ‘normal.’ In the meantime, we should all be ready for the inundation of messages about what we don’t have today that we had back just a year ago. Counterintuitive though it may seem, let’s consider all that has been gained since February 2020 and look ahead to the future bolstered by the strength of our community.

Stay warm this weekend, BDS.

Giving Thanks

On Tuesday, we will gather for our annual Thanksgiving assembly—an opportunity to express gratitude as a community.

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