One year ago, the world pretty much … stopped.
For the past year, we all have been trying to navigate a new normal. Mothers in particular have borne the brunt of too many burdens to list. And kids, through all of this? It is no secret that distance learning and isolation from friends and regular activities have been beyond difficult for today’s children. So as we reach the one-year anniversary of pandemic lock-down, how should we approach this date? And what can we say to our children?
My children, like many of yours, have been completely out of physical school since March 13, 2020. There are no plans for their DC public school to bring them back at all this academic year. This past year has been — as you all can relate — grueling on both me and my children. Distance learning has been a challenge for both of my school-aged girls (not to mention the distractions that come with a toddler brother often breaking onto the scene mid-lesson). On the one-year anniversary of being out of school, I decided to flip the negativity that has clouded too many of my recent days and find a way to mark the Corona-versary … with celebration.
Now hear me out! This pandemic is a complete tragedy. This generation of kids has been dealt an awful hand right now. I hear — nearly daily — from friends across the country how heavily this pandemic is weighing down on their children. And if you’re a mother reading this, you don’t need any reminders of this. I don’t want to be one more exhausting voice adding to the list of quarantine “shoulds.” But re-framing the COVID lockdown anniversary gave me a chance to reflect and an opportunity, more importantly, to celebrate my children.
Marking the Corona-versary
So what did we do? Nothing crazy, because sometimes the smallest gestures mean so much more to kids. My husband and I loaded the kids into the car, told them we were having a surprise and drove downtown to the Wharf.
I told my girls how ridiculously proud I was of them both for navigating now a complete 365 days of an alternate reality, of distance learning, of no museums or playdates or sports teams. We got ice cream at the Southwest Soda Pop Shop by the water and then simply walked around, taking in the sunshine and the sights. (There’s nothing like surprise ice cream to set all right in the world!) My 5- and 7-year-old daughters talked to us about school, about friends they missed and teachers they hope to one day meet in person, and about what they hope for when “coronavirus goes away.”
In return, my husband and I lavished praises upon them. I find it is always helpful in these situations to be as specific as possible. “I was really impressed that time that you practiced your Spanish speech over and over.” “You’re working so hard at staying focused on your lessons, it’s a big improvement!” “You must be so proud of yourself for figuring out that tricky problem in math last week.” “I noticed you are participating more in your class. That’s great you feel comfortable speaking up more!” Their little brother babbled in agreement.
Anniversaries are for recognizing and celebrating.
The year has been hard. Distance learning, for us at least, will continue. There will still be struggles. But I’m committing myself to focus on just how hard our children have been fighting and finding small windows to celebrate.
So go get ice cream. Have a dance party. Go to a special park or playground or have a living room sleepover. Do something, big or small, to show your kids that this Corona-versary is a chance to recognize their strength.