Heading into the final stretch towards the end of the semester and start of vacation time, I am filled with thoughts of what these couple of weeks will bring. On the one hand, these next two weeks are going to be filled with fun and excitement. We have hat days, dress up days (or just wear jeans), decorations and a school party to look forward to before we close the doors to Pecan Trail for the holiday break.
On the other hand, all of the excitement has also made me think about our students who are experiencing anxiety about what these two weeks will bring. I think about our students who need the structure of school. I think about our students who are thankful for the meals they receive at Pecan Trail, or are calmed by the sense of consistency a bell schedule brings to their lives, or feel safe knowing they can anticipate seeing a certain staff member who they know loves them day in and day out. We have students in poverty, students missing loved ones for various reasons and students splitting time between households. The stress of holidays does not discriminate along lines of income, family dynamics or loss. Any of our students may be experiencing these things, whether we know it or not.
I think of our students who get to enjoy being children while in your care, yet outside of this building they take on adult responsibilities. Maybe they care for siblings. Maybe they are responsible for ensuring their home is cleaned because “the people stop by and check to see” if they can keep their residence. Maybe they help care for elderly family members sharing their household. There are many life circumstances that can impact our students in ways we do not know and may never know.
While many of us may look forward to the certainty of spending time with loved ones and the sense of belonging and stability that brings, many of our students have anxiety over the uncertainty that can come with these weeks. It can also be a stressful time for our families. Moms and dads are working additional hours to help make this holiday extra special for their children. While we as a school have two or so weeks away from work to be with our loved ones, many families may have just a day, or hours, if even those options to stop, breathe and be a family. Children may not know when (or even if, in some cases) they may have that desired time with their own families. This is why so many of our students crave the structure and certainty of their time with us at Pecan Trail.
The holidays bring stress. Stress brings out the worst in people. My stress may be “Who all is going to show up at my house for the holidays?” Yet, I can't even imagine the stress our students will face. Grace is going to be needed by all. This is a season of reflection, of understanding and of grace towards each other. While we may be looking ahead towards days of security and fun and down time, I need to be mindful of our students who anxiously anticipate days of the opposite. So, let’s load them up right now on extra doses of welcome, attention, love and grace so they know what awaits them when they return. I feel so thankful to work with people who support each other. More importantly, who support our students.