We all have memories from distinctive times in our past. Every family goes through things. Tough times…challenging times…celebratory times…times of change. Emotions link to memories and memories are a part of what makes us. What will our kids remember about quarantine?
I don’t believe that I am out of line in calling this a distinctive time in our lives and in the lives of our kids. “School’s out for Summer” was just a catchy lyric in my day, it was never intended for the month of March. This is the reality for millions of kids today; a complete disruption to routine and rhythm and a societal abandonment of the consistency and predictability afforded kids by school, sports, teachers and the structure of their time.
Seemingly, in an instant, everything has changed. Stay at home is the new normal. In addition, parents are at home and, while acting as the new teachers, also have jobs that, in many cases, have moved home. It feels like all the rules have changed. The dog is happy to have company while the cat just wishes everyone would leave again. As a rule, people just aren’t very good at new normals or temporary changes or disruptions to predictability and consistency. We love our routine and our rhythm. The same goes for our kids.
As a result of these circumstances that are beyond our control, the most agile and adaptable are outpacing the most athletic and disciplined. Athletes, as it turns out, aren’t as essential as we thought, while nurses are more essential than we ever imagined. We miss our sports but need our medical professionals
What does all of this have to do with parenting and kids?
The most agile and adaptable parents are also most likely to outpace those who are more dedicated to traditional routines, rules, structure and pace. Agile and adaptable people are looking for opportunities while their counterparts cling to what used to be. Those who fail to adapt find themselves powerfully equipped for a society that no longer exists.
If we set aside our own personal feelings aside, what will our kids remember about quarantine? I have two children being impacted (1 high school and 1 college) because they will have to remember the graduation ceremony that did not happen. Their graduation memories will not be filled with a ceremony celebrating their hard work. While we will celebrate their accomplishments, they will not know the feeling of the calling of their name and that walk across the stage that we all took. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem remotely adequate.
But what will they remember about their parents?
Were they a burden and an inconvenience?
Would we have rather been anywhere else?
Did they miss out because they were penned in?
Will they think that their parents missed work more than they loved spending time with their children?
Can they quote, “This is a teacher’s responsibility! Not mine.”
Will they remember parents who say, “I can’t wait until this is over.”
Or will they remember a parent saying, “I don’t really want this to end.”
And, “I’ll miss being around you all the time when this is over.”
Or, “We should continue to eat dinner together…even when we don’t have to.”
And, “We had such a great time and became so much closer as a family.”
Or, “Who needs FaceTime when we can talk face to face anytime?”
Those memories will be determined by us and they will be concretized with either feelings of “burden and inconvenience” or “opportunity and optimism.” We, as their parents, have incredible power and influence with our kids and we can choose to make them more important than any crisis or, conversely, we can choose any crisis over our children.
I am “all in” for the opportunity transcending crisis. Hopefully in the “new normal”that comes after this current new normal, we will keep prioritizing time spent face to face over time spent on FaceTime and meals together over meals eaten at the same time. In the end, one of the good things that may come out of this is a generation that had the unprecedented opportunity to spend quality time with their parents at a time when they most needed quality attention from those that loved them first and will always love them the most.
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