This generation of children will never take school for granted again. (Jennifer Bardsley)

This generation of children will never take school for granted again. (Jennifer Bardsley)

40 years later, our kids will have quite the story to tell

“When I was your age, I wasn’t allowed to go to school. It was a canceled because of a pandemic.”

Don’t let me hear you complain about waking up early to go to school, young man. When I was your age, I wasn’t allowed to go to school. It was a canceled because of a pandemic. You don’t know how lucky you have it.

I had to walk 3 miles up hill around the neighborhood each day, because that was recess. Forget about four square or kickball. My PE was doing online barre3 with my mom. And let me tell you, there are some things you can’t unsee — and your grandma doing the supine twist in leggings is one of them.

Your backpack is on the floor again. Really? You can’t spend 60 seconds to pick it up and bring it to your room? Let me tell you, back in my day, I didn’t even get to use a backpack. There wasn’t any point. Instead of books to carry, the only thing standing between me and total ignorance was my Chromebook. What’s a Chromebook? Oh, good grief.

I used my Chromebook to navigate from one website to the next, trying to keep up with my “remote learning” curriculum. I met with my teacher over a platform called Zoom, and the only exciting part was when her cat came on camera and pounced on the keyboard.

But at least I had Zoom meetings. Your uncle didn’t have any, and his teachers kept telling him “these assignments aren’t mandatory” over and over again until he pretty much gave up on school and self-taught himself ancient history by watching YouTube channels.

What do you mean you didn’t empty your lunch box from yesterday? Don’t you realize how lucky you are to have a lunch box? When I was your age, I didn’t use my lunch box for months. Instead of sandwiches, I ate whatever your grandmother put on the table, including leftovers. Sometimes it was weird stuff, too, like when the grocery delivery was late and she had to scrape together soup with whatever she could find in the fridge.

I had enough to eat, but there were unusual shortages. We couldn’t buy flour for a whole month. When your grandma finally found some, she wrapped it up as a present and gave it to your uncle for his 15th birthday.

Sure, I’ll put your artwork the refrigerator. This is really pretty. When I was your age, art was what you did outside with sidewalk chalk. Kids would write inspirational sayings like “Let’s take care of each other” and “You’ve got this!” Sidewalk chalk became so popular that it sold out online. When your grandfather found a spare pack in the garage, we cheered.

So don’t let me hear you complain, mister. School is a blessing. Now hurry up, or you’ll be late.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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