Last week, Grade 12 students at a handful of area schools were among the first to walk across the stage, in honour of earning their high school diplomas in 2021. And while friends and family could watch the ceremonies live, through virtual means, the lack of loud cheering and in-person speakers was hard to ignore.
Technology is amazing, and it has brought about the ability to connect people across the nation, and beyond. While it has also been incredibly useful in keeping students learning and therefore graduating, I think one thing that's been reaffirmed is that technology can't replace real people.
As a mom to a teenager who still has a few years to go until celebrating a high school graduation, I couldn't help but imagine what it must feel like for parents and guardians to watch from afar, as their children walked across that stage. It's certainly better than nothing, but knowing there is a huge possibility that thousands of people will be gathering in a matter of weeks to take part in events such as the Calgary Stampede, it seems harsh and unfair.
For 18 years, parents have worked hard to get their children to this point. For 13 years, staff at schools have worked hard to get those same children to this same point. That hard work is something to celebrate, and no doubt a right of passage.
Last year's graduating class was thrown plenty of challenges as they made their way through the last three months of high school. I think the graduating class of 2021 may have breathed a sigh of relief at the time, anticipating life would be back to normal by the time it was their turn.
But, it wasn't. And it isn't.
There is, however, a lot of hope. Vaccines and reopenings are happening. But the inescapable contradiction of allowing thousands of people gather for summer events, while friends and families still can't gather indoors is hard to ignore.
I think many of us can agree that we are tired. Tired of not knowing. Tired of continual and sudden changes. Business owners are tired. Parents are tired. Health care workers are tired. Many of us are simply tired.
But what about our kids? A couple weeks ago, the province opened up vaccines to those who are 12 years old and up. As a parent, I'll admit I was hesitant. I still hadn't received my own vaccine and only became eligible shortly prior to my oldest son also becoming eligible. So, I sat on it. I let it brew in my own mind, unsure of what to do.
Then, my son approached me. His question was simple: "When can I get my vaccine?"
Kids are smart. Technology is amazing. They are informed just as much as we are as parents (sometimes even more, perhaps). In that moment, I realized that my own hesitations didn't mean anything anymore. If a 14-year-old can make a decision, knowing there are risks but at the same time understanding the benefits are greater, then why did I even hesitate?
My husband and I did ask him one question, as we were both curious to know his thought process. We asked him what he thought about people who didn't believe in the vaccine, or support it. His answer was again simple: "I don't listen to them."
So, I made him an appointment, and made my own at the same time. We went together, slept a bit more than usual over the next couple of days, and now we are a little bit more protected. He wants to play sports. He wants to spend time with friends, without a mask on. And he also wants to keep his little brother and his dad safe.
Although my job often involves listening to people, I do think we could all benefit from tuning out the outside world, sometimes. Whatever your decision, and whatever your choice, keep it simple, listen to yourself.