Three Cheers for Our High School Seniors in a Pandemic

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The beginning of March was just a little over a month ago but it seems like an eternity has passed since then and now.

Our high school senior was really excited about an upcoming robotics meet in Myrtle Beach on the weekend of March 21, and he was really looking forward to spending time with his friends and teammates there. It is an annual ritual, and this year had special significance as it was the last year to make memories.

An Academic Team National Championship was coming up in May in Atlanta. Every year, our whole family joined him for this event but this year he wanted to go alone with his friends and teachers. He told us that he wanted to really savor and enjoy the trip without us tagging along.

We were a little heartbroken, and argued we could go separately and watch the competition and not bother him. But, when he said it’s his last senior trip and he wanted to be with his friends, we understood and backed off.

Both competitions were canceled due to the spread of Coronavirus. In hindsight, all of those discussions on whether we, as a family, would join him were in vain. The lesson learned – Man proposes and God disposes.

It breaks my heart as a parent that he and other high school seniors had the fun part of their school lives cut short without notice.

They did not get to celebrate the last day of school. They did not get to hug their friends and teachers goodbye. When they came home on March 13 and realized school would be closed, they did not see it as an unexpected vacation. They saw it as time spent apart from friends.

With college applications complete, and most seniors aware of where they want to attend college, these were the months they could relax and relish the golden moments of twelfth grade. They were excited about the last band and orchestra concerts, final prom and graduation.

All of this was taken away from them. All of this was taken away from us as parents too. We need to accept their grief. We need to accept our grief.

However, we cannot be down in the dumps forever.

The lesson learned is we cannot control what life throws at us but we can regulate how we respond.

What I have seen is that these much-maligned millennials who the world thought were too soft and easily crushed by adversity, have risen above their predicament and shown us courage and resilience.

My son and his friends respect the rules of social distancing and communicate via text and video chats. They have adapted to the online classroom and are responsible about turning school work in on time. They are eager to help those in need and be of service.

Each one of them has taken this new way of life in stride. I told my son it would make for a good story to tell his children and grandchildren one day – the quarantine in his senior year and how he and his friends could not get together for a while.

As a parent, I count my blessings every day that all three of my children are home and safe. Before, Arjun, my middle child and high school senior, would drive to his cello teacher’s house off of Monticello Road. He would have to take two different highways to get to her house. Now, he can do the lessons via facetime. I do not have to worry about him driving on malfunction junction while it’s dark or raining.

One of the silver linings of home quarantine has also been an increase in family time and sibling bonding. Before all of this, my kids would socialize more with their friends. But now they are spending more time with each other. My eldest daughter and youngest son were always close but Arjun had drifted apart and was always hanging out with his friends. Now, it puts a smile on my face when I hear him ask his siblings to play cards or video games with him. It is heartwarming to hear them laugh and tease each other. They play with our outdoor cat and they play badminton in the backyard.

Despite fears of Coronavirus, my anxiety levels are at an all-time low as all three children are home. I do not have to worry about where they are or stay up if they come home late. It’s going to be heart-wrenchingly difficult letting them go once all of this is over.

I know we will celebrate our high school senior. I think back on him as a preschooler hanging on to my leg and not letting go that first day of school. Now, we are begging him not to fly too far away from the nest. He has been accepted at Georgia Tech, Berkeley, The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Clemson Honors, among others. He has not made up his mind yet about where he wants to go for college.

The years have passed away in the blink of an eye and we are not ready to say goodbye. As much as we miss the naughty, chubby baby he was, we are so very proud of the caring, empathetic, smart and funny young man he has become.

We will have to find innovative ways to celebrate high school graduation while following the rules of social distancing. My son just told me his senior parade will be with students in their cars when they go to pick up their graduation gear in a drive-through at school, and my heart was so happy.

I read in the news about a high school in Pennsylvania that is video recording each senior’s graduation walk, and then combining the recordings to show as a movie at a drive-in theater. The families can sit in their cars while watching the graduation ceremony unfold on screen. What a unique and wonderful way to celebrate this well-deserved milestone!

Three cheers for all of our high school seniors!

They will be celebrated.

If it can’t be done traditionally, we will think of new ways. I congratulate them and wish them all the best for their future. May they soar and exceed our expectations. May God bless them in all their endeavors. We are so very proud of them.We stand with them in solidarity.

How are you celebrating your high school senior?

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Growing up in a small town in India, Mona Verma never dreamed that she would immigrate to America. She came to Columbia in 1996 when her husband found a job here and they were newly married. It was an arranged match but she did get to meet her future husband and give her approval and there has never been a shortage of love in their marriage. With a Masters in English and a Masters in Library and Information Science, Mona divides her time between being a part time Reference librarian and a part time writer. She is however, a full time mom to three teenagers, a girl and two boys. Volunteering, gardening, reading, binge watching her favorite TV shows and drinking wine with girlfriends spark tremendous joy in her. She is a very laid back person who likes to live and let live. Cups of hot ginger tea and hugs and cuddles from her family keep her going….

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