Here in North Rhine-Westphalia the certificates were issued on July 2nd. I have never longed for the end of the school year as much as this summer. With the official end of the 2020/2021 school year, I solemnly put a line under a difficult time. The last half year has cost me a lot of nerves and strength. Although a bit of normalcy returned to our everyday life in June with the restart of face-to-face classes and school trips, I counted the days until the holidays.
How much the last few months have challenged me can be read between the lines of the letters I wrote to my daughters as testimony. It’s our little tradition: every year, on the day the school report is issued before the summer holidays, my children can expect a cake, a small present, a few sweets or special school supplies at their place at the dining table. We do not have the classic certificate or grade money. I don’t think that a one or a two should be honored more than, for example, a hard-won three or four. Of course I am happy about good grades, but it is much more important that you show your children how proud you are of them and appreciate what they have achieved throughout the school year. That one does not take their transfer, the recommendation for the secondary school or the school leaving certificate for granted and only expects the best performance. Children need recognition, no matter how old they are.
That’s why I review each school year in a beautifully designed letter. That’s how I’ve been doing it for both girls since first grade. In the beginning I made sure that the font was large and easy to read and provided the text with decorations and drawings, age-appropriate and in accordance with reading skills. Later the letters became more extensive. I tell my children that we parents are proud of them, what was particularly nice or difficult for them during the school year, I mention milestones such as school competitions or school trips and I wish them a nice, well-deserved vacation.
This year I typed my text on the PC. The words just poured out of my finger. I am a writer with heart and soul and have never been particularly good at keeping myself short. For me, writing means throwing off ballast. This blog here also helps me to reflect and process what has happened. I feel liberated when I can write down things that occupy me and then let them go. Sometimes the thoughts I share here are very personal and emotional. Then I ask myself whether what I am revealing about myself is not too much. But then I feel good about saying it. And maybe one or the other is similar, and it can be found in my texts.
For Lara, school did not go particularly well in the first half of the year. The change from the middle to the upper level, in which a lot of initiative and independence is required from the students of the G8-Gymnasium, was a problem for her. She struggled with three foreign languages and her math weakness. This fact, Covid19 and homeschooling therefore hit them with full force. I’ve had many sleepless nights. I was worried because Lara was not doing well with it. Would Lara make it and, above all, would she want to turn things around, or would she let herself go completely and give up? I spent the nights watching YouTube videos trying to support her in math. I looked for a tutor for her. I’ve talked my mouth fluffy. I stayed with her and didn’t let me get rid of me when she slammed the door in my face. And was happy when Lara opened her door again and let me in, into her life and her soul.
Maya also needed me during the pandemic and homeschooling. An explanation here, assistance there, encouragement, banishing boredom and motivation there. School was less problematic for her than for Lara. I was very happy about that. But health problems started appearing earlier in the year. A harmless examination resulted in a rat tail. This was followed by unpleasant, very stressful months in which Maya and I spent many hours in the clinic. An operation, Maya was already under anesthesia, was canceled because there was no agreement on the diagnosis at the operating table. This is followed by further investigations. Long and excruciating waiting times for results that did not bring any final clarity and therefore required further investigations. I ran after doctor reports. We were referred to another clinic, to a specialist. Waiting for an appointment. Sleepless nights. Investigations. Meetings. Train rides. No distraction from worries because the pandemic did not allow it. Worst Easter vacation of my life. Sitting at home and brooding. Don’t show the child too much of their worries. Finally an operation. A capable doctor and a promising prognosis.
I am happy that everything has turned out well in the meantime. Not only for Maya, but also for Lara. And so for me at the same time. Because when my daughters are bad, I feel bad too. Lara worked hard and really knelt into the second half of the school year. She was happy when the classroom lessons started again, was looking forward to a normal school day and to her compulsory internship in the environment she wanted, for which she had applied very early. She was all the more disappointed when she was informed that she would spend most of the two-week internship in the home office. She was required to be available by phone at any time. She got little or no insight into everyday work. During the second week she sat frustrated and angry at home, waiting for calls that never came, and then had to chase after her assessment. But she pulled it off anyway and tried to see it positively. “After all, the internship is now on my résumé as a reference. Maybe I can do another decent, voluntary internship somewhere else. “
One week before the certificates, Maya’s teacher wrote a “little” math test during the high heat, which she then assessed like a work. I couldn’t see why my daughter should sit in her room at 35 degrees just before the holidays to learn geometry. She was desperate for missing this material. I advised Maya to have a nice afternoon in the garden. Who cared about the math grade on a seventh grade report card. Whether three or four: it doesn’t matter. In a couple of years there won’t be a rooster crows. I was a little shocked by my attitude myself. Because under normal circumstances I would have helped Maya study and encouraged her to do her best. But at some point there had to be an end, the chapter ended. The psyche comes to rest. Mine like hers.
Now the school year is finally behind us. And over that I make three crosses. My batteries are empty. How empty, I noticed on the day I handed out my testimony, when I congratulated Lara on her testimony, hugged her and started crying. Not because of her grades, which are quite impressive for me, but because a huge burden has fallen off me overall. I feel bruised, like I’m in a hangover after a night of partying. I call it my personal Long Covid Syndrome. Covid-19 has left its traces and damage even on those who have not previously been directly ill with it. I wonder how things will go after the summer vacation. Whether the school year 2021/2022 will bring back the normality that we are all longing for.
If you read these lines, I am trying to recharge my batteries after the long dry spell. On holiday. With my family. For my family. For you, dear readers, so that I can tell again after my return.