I felt a jolt of excitement when I got an email this summer from my son's school and learned a date for Back-to-School Night was set.
My husband and I have waited more than a year to step foot in our son's school, a privilege the coronavirus denied us last year, the first year our oldest could be called a student.
We registered him for kindergarten weeks before the pandemic was declared, and we looked forward to the spring school events that welcomed kindergarten families.
It didn't take long for stay-at-home orders to erase those plans.
Kindergarten orientation became a student-only event held a few days before classes began. We briefly met our son's teacher as students and staff gathered on the blacktop before the classes headed inside.
My husband and I savored whatever moments we had to learn about our son's kindergarten experience. We picked the last Zoom parent-teacher conference time slot, hoping we might get more time with his teacher, and throughout the year we immediately alerted each other when she sent emails – sometimes with photos.
We quizzed our son on his classmates' names, and we eavesdropped on class Zoom sessions conducted on scheduled remote-learning days.
Although we drove our son to and from school every day, we couldn't go farther than the carpool line.
All that to explain why, on a spring evening, I worried a passerby would question whether something nefarious was afoot when I peered into a darkened elementary school classroom.
My son, then 5, wanted to show me his school as best he could during one of our regular walks.
That late April visit was the first time he showed me items in his kindergarten classroom and where he sat for lunch.
I took pictures with my smartphone, eager to share the moments with my husband and wishing he was there with us. I grew up in the district and, while I didn't attend that school, I had been inside many times. My husband hasn't gone past the front office.
We now have hope that will change on a weeknight in August. We can't wait to go back to school.