There are days when it all seems like a nightmare, but I see inspiration when I look at my kids.
They, along with others around them their ages, are taking everything in stride. They are adapting and figuring it all out. Maybe it’s the kids who all adults should look to for guidance on navigating this new world we are living in. We should envy their ability to live in the moment, adjust on the fly and not get bogged down in the daily grind of bad news.
Adults seem to struggle with this concept of acceptance. For example, I tend to think too much about all the things this fall my kids have missed as a result of ongoing pandemic restrictions. The “cancel society” we live in seems to envelop just about all aspects of their lives. Even trick-or-treating on Halloween is going to look a lot different for them this year.
Since Halloween has always been a big day in their lives, we sweated informing our kids about just sticking close to home and devising a safe way to give out candy if we even have trick-or-treaters. Pam has a number of ideas up her sleeve, such as a pulley system or transporting the candy through a PVC pipe from our porch toward the children or scattering bags of candy around the yard.
Since it’s 2020 we may get not one trick-or-treater, or we might see hundreds. We know a normal Halloween at our old house would see about 2,000 kids. Like most of the things we have taken away from them “out of an abundance of caution,” a phrase I now loathe, our kids questioned us at first and then quickly found the silver lining. They can try and scare kids who walk up our driveway from afar.
As I got to thinking about how the kids were not disappointed and just rolled with it, I remembered an article I read recently by blogger Diana Divecha “Will the pandemic have a lasting impact on my kids?,” which was featured in greatergoodmagazine.com. It struck me as insightful. A portion of the article included:
Studies consistently show that certain conditions help children adapt well, and other conditions compound a child’s distress — but the overall message is a hopeful one. Given some basic support and protection, our children have remarkable strength and hardiness.
A connection to something greater than oneself — whether it’s a spiritual practice, cultural beliefs, or a sense of purpose — can help families and children orient their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Children, even very young ones, enjoy and benefit from these kinds of feelings and experiences.
Children are neither inherently resilient nor inherently vulnerable. Instead, their well-being arises out of who they are as individuals together with the cascades of experiences they have. Some children may luck into competencies and circumstances that set them on a good path early on. But even for children who don’t do well initially, studies of the life course show that many can still find happiness later from a new opportunity, education, a good relationship, or a fulfilling career.
For now, the world is in a difficult state of uncertainty. We don’t know the course of the virus, the full economic impact, or what “normal” life we’ll resume. But the enduring lessons for our children will surely be the emotional ones. These are the lessons they’ll remember as adults when they inevitably experience upheaval again — only then, it may be without us. So let’s stay focused on, and grateful for, what really matters.
I like to think this is true. I don’t think either of my kids will ever forget the pandemic. It’s not over by any means, but I pray we never go back to a complete shutdown like we did in March. Their lives came to a halt or at least an extended pause. They lost a lot.
We like most parents didn’t know when to re-enter society. We still struggle with certain decisions. We dropped plans for Busch Gardens over worries all the restrictions and changes would not even make it fun for all of us. We assume the Disney cruise we booked two years ago for next March will not happen. It will be the third vacation canceled. Pam and I are pivoting with the times, but we are not doing it as well as our boys.
Beckett, 12, tends to live with rose-colored glasses on. This is not to say he lives in the clouds because he gets discouraged from time to time, but he doesn’t seem to dwell on heavy things, like there being no school dances, a huge project due the next day, only having a handful of middle school soccer games rather than many more and other fun opportunities he has been robbed of since March. He said once he learned a lot about the pandemic. After days of questioning our pre-teen as to what he meant, he finally said it was to not things for granted.
Our autistic guy, Carson, who turns 11 next week, is notoriously aloof, or he at least likes to let people thing he is. However, he grasps the severity of it all. His resilience has been amazing to observe. One day he walked out of school with a mask and shield on. He looked like he was ready for chemical warfare. When he took his shield off, his hair was a mess. I said something about it and he insisted on messing my hair up terribly and pulling out my tucked shirt. I rolled with it.
Back to Beckett’s point about not taking things for granted, I am focused on not sweating the small stuff.