Spring With The Seniors
By Sarah Kern
In a school year like no other, we did a lot of wondering. We wondered how it all would work — teachers alone with small pods of children, parents dropping off outdoors, how we would handle conferences, health exclusions, family parties. As with many things, most of our worst fears never came to fruition. Instead we saw deep, joyful connections between children, rich relationships between teachers and children and teachers and parents. The classes became little families, and the school days passed happily. But those of us who remembered years past still missed one big thing: our grandmas and grandpas.
We did our best to connect with them throughout the year. We went on an outdoor Halloween parade in hopes the seniors would see us out their windows. We made a Thanksgiving display to share what we were thankful for. (Grandmas and grandpas made the list!) We exchanged holiday cards and valentines. Little gift bags appeared from upstairs as each holiday passed. Sometimes we’d spot a senior in their window, waving frantically, and we’d do our best to show the children, to help them see that this building was not just ours, that many wonderful people were always meant to share this school with us. It was still special, but it wasn’t the same.
It was late spring when we got the good news: the nursing management cleared us to welcome vaccinated seniors into the school as readers! Knowing our time together would be all too brief, we quickly made phone calls, hoping the seniors would be ready to join us. Were they ever! At Inver Glen, we welcomed back three beloved readers from years past. At Eagan, we welcomed five new seniors into the school. There were so many grandmas who wanted to be readers in the classrooms that they had to take turns coming downstairs! On their first days, there was a buzz of excitement in the air. As the visits continued, the children and the seniors settled into a comfortable, happy rhythm.
While there were still things we missed, — hugs, for one! — all of the goodness, love, and joy remained. Children eagerly chatted, sharing their names, ages, information about their families, and discoveries they made outdoors, and like always, the seniors happily listened. The classes shared favorite stories with the seniors and eagerly looked forward to each visit. In the end, our time was much too short, but we were filled with gratitude for the time we did have. When we said goodbye to Grandma Marion on her last day, her eyes filled with tears as the children walked her to the door. As she left, she stopped to tell me, “Wednesday mornings are my favorite time of the week.” Ours, too.