A word from Jessica Petree, WLCN Director

September 22, 2021

Photo by note thanun on Unsplash

As a parent, the last 18 months have been scary, unpredictable, and lonely.  My heart has broken for my children.  There have been milestones, birthdays, and events that have come and gone without much fanfare.  Things we would have celebrated with family and friends have been on hold.  Coughs and sneezes have been met with temperature and symptom checks and an eagle eye on every movement to ensure that it isn’t anything more than the sniffles.  I know that you have all had very similar experiences with your little ones.  The library classes, the playdates, and the adventures you would have otherwise taken your now two-, three-, and four-year-old children have been missed, skipped, or revamped to reflect our cautious world.  It is hard.  It is overwhelming.  It is life during a global pandemic.  But we are persevering. We are adjusting.  We are strong.  WLCN is here for you.  You are a part of a community of parents and children who are all experiencing similar stories.  Lean on them for support.  Your children are making friends with new children.  Talk to the other parents.  Some families have a strong support system here in the surrounding Maryland towns.  Some families do not.  I can say from experience that raising three kids all aged within 23 months of each other is so hard when your support system is many states away.  I don’t know what I would have done during the current circumstances.  If this is similar to your story – look to the families to your right; to your left.  I see all your faces watching your children play in the playground.  They have all found kindred spirits among their classmates.  Find yours among your parent-mates watching beside you!  

When I first sat down to write this blog post, I intended it to be all about the beginning of the school year; what we have been doing in class and behind the scenes, but our school, Wilde Lake Children’s Nursery, is so much more than that.  It is a community, and I want to highlight that for this post.  I have been lucky to be a part of this community for over 5 years now.  I have become such good friends with my co-workers, Tammie and Wendy and the former director, Carren.  I have become friends with many of the parents of my former students, and keep in touch to see how the children are growing and succeeding in school and life beyond WLCN.  It is amazing to see what they are accomplishing!  The bonds that those children have made with their classmates has translated to lasting friendships between the parents.  WLCN is such a unique place to be where children and parents alike can grow.  I hope that you can seize the magic of our little Columbia-based community.

Last year, we changed how things were done.  The majority of school was done virtually.  I learned computer skills I never thought I would need to use!  It was new.  It was strange.  It was hard.  I found it very difficult to be out of the normal routine of class time with the students.  Story time, craft time, play time, educational extensions – they all mean so much more when we can do things face to face.  I am so happy that we have returned to school.  Yes, we are all wearing masks.  Yes, we are washing our hands an awful lot.  No, I can’t see the physical upturn of lips in a smile or a laugh when it is beneath a mask, but I can use my ears and hear the giggles.  I can use my eyes to see the sparkle in their eyes.  I can sit back as an observer and watch the children play and explore.  

Children are resilient.  Everyone always says that.  Watching them these last two weeks in a place that many of them have never seen before has proven this to me.  They are adjusting.  They are exploring.  They are learning.  They are making friends.  Many of our students have never been in a classroom setting or been around unfamiliar faces, but they are doing it.  Sometimes there are tears.  Sometimes there is trepidation.  I see timid steps toward something/someone new.  I see struggles with sharing.  I see frustration.  Then I see those same steps become confident marches, the resistant sharers handing toys to others, and the frustrated wrinkled eyebrows turn to sparkling eyes and happy giggles when met with success.

We are all wading through this pool of uncertainty together, and I am so happy you are here.  I look forward to the next 9 months of school with your wonderful children.  We have so much to learn from one another!

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