by Amy Lemieux
A sunflower. It’s been on my wish list for years.
Each spring my goal is to have a spectacular garden, one that grows denser and more colorful as the weather warms. At the top of my list, what I have desired most, is a giant sunflower. To cover my bases, I have planted seeds at home and at school. Surely one location will be hospitable. For many years, I have been disappointed. Until this year. It sounds cliché, but in the midst of this year of repeated disappointments, my sunflowers have been a bright spot in 2021.
What was different this year? It is tempting to attribute my success symbolized by colossal sunflowers to something I did; I planted far fewer seeds this year, they were consistently watered, I chose the perfect location, and I asked for help tending my garden, all things I hadn’t done in the past. While I believe these factors contributed to my thriving flowers, I also know that some of it was luck. I did everything within my power this year to make them grow but must acknowledge I don’t have as much control as I’d like to believe. That is 2021 in a nutshell.
Last spring and early summer things were looking up. After a full year apart, we welcomed seniors back into the preschools, which was a thrill for adults and children alike. The seniors we encountered out and about were abuzz with talk of resuming our regular intergenerational activities, and what fun it would be! We imagined returning to senior sing-alongs, rhythm band, and monthly plays with an audience full of grandmas and grandpas. Our summer camps felt wonderful; mornings spent outdoors followed by a picnic lunch, welcoming alumni back into our space, returning to team teaching with class sizes of sixteen, and our famous Water Wars with the grandmas and grandpas. As August arrived, the COVID numbers crept up, along with the residual anxieties of 2020 on top of an already pandemic-fatigued population.
Like you, we are tired. Like you, we are anxious. Like you, we are tired of asking and answering questions that don’t have a perfect answer. But like you, we are hopeful, which is why we are all here. We know that by doing all WE can do and with a little bit of luck, the children in our community will thrive.