It’s been a long pandemic. We’re all feeling the effects, especially Caiden.
For those of you who haven’t had the chance to meet our oldest, here’s a quick rundown:
- About as extroverted as it gets, much to my chagrin
- Super smart and has always been among his teachers’ favorites
- Loves cartoons, LEGO (hmm… where did the name for the kids post category come from, I wonder), math, science and The Macarena
- Daddy’s little hype man
- Not the best joke teller, but what 6 year old is
Aside from 3 months of returning to day care, Caiden’s been home since March. That’s a long time to be stuck in a house, especially when starting virtual learning. Combine that with having a baby brother who’s getting into everything and a dog that wants to be right in his bubble, we tend to run into at least one melt down a day, if we’re lucky.
The struggle is real
Caiden misses his friends. He misses playing soccer. He doesn’t get the same level of interaction and attention in his virtual kindergarten that he would if he were actually in the classroom. He’s so hungry to talk to someone who isn’t Mom, Dad, Grandma or Beckett that he’s taken to saying “Hi!” to anyone who walks past our house (or whose house we walk past).
These are crucial developmental years, so I worry.
My list of worries
- Too much screen time: Lately, when he watches cartoons for too long, it’s a guaranteed battle to get him away from the TV. We’ve had many screaming fits as a result of turning off the shows to go do something else. Even fun stuff. Combine this with using an iPad for class, and it’s like I can practically see the AAP screen time recommendations fly right out the window.
- Struggle paying attention: He throws a fit if any of the adults in the house ask him to give his undivided attention to his class and not play with whatever odds and ends he has found and started fiddling with. Sometimes he even tries to hide the object and loses it when he’s caught. 6 year olds aren’t the stealthiest kiddos in the land.
- Being productive: Getting him to work on reading or writing is met with a protest of “But that’s so boring!” He knows his sight words and is advanced at comprehension, but if the story isn’t one he wants to hear, he isn’t interested. The same goes for straightening up. Who knew I’d have a teenage-sized attitude on my hands already.
Caiden is a smart, sweet, caring little boy. One who is starving for normal. One who is acting like an asshole like only a 6 year old can as a result of these times.
I can’t help but feel that everything would get so. much. better. if Caiden’s sense of normal could return.
But they won’t. Nor should they right now.
Now is not forever
Read that again: Now is not forever.
There is a freaking pandemic out there, in case you haven’t noticed. More than 250,000 Americans have DIED from COVID-19. And we’re not done yet, nor will we be immediately upon the release of the vaccines.
This year is rough. On EVERYONE, especially on fiesty little extroverts like Caiden. But you know what, we’ll make do.
Because now is not forever.
This year is strange and yucky and just sort of a bummer. But it’s better to have a long-short period of strange and yucky and bummer than a nonexistence because you’re dead.
Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel. Mourn for the lost sports, for the lost time spent hanging out with your favorite people. Long for hugs (man, I miss hugs). Yell if you feel mad. Hit pillows. Scream. Pop bubble wrap. Cry if you feel anxious. Pace if you’re stressed. You do you, Boo-boo. Feel those feelings, even if you’re not comfortable with them, and then adapt.
Adapting doesn’t have to be complex. Sometimes the smallest things are the easiest and most effective. Embrace Hygge. The Danes have been combating seasonal affective disorder this way for years, because it works. Go for a walk. Watch a funny movie. Video chat with your loved ones. Start a recipe exchange. There are ways we can still stay connected with our favorite people during the holidays without being in the same space.
Practice resilience. Yes, I’m beating that drum again. You can and will adapt. Kiddos especially. They’re incredibly adaptable little people. Things are tough for them at the moment, they’re tough for all of us, but watch. These kids will handle all of this better than us in the long run. In fact, they might even wind up with some precious memories as a result of all of this.
Whatever you do. Stay safe. Practice the pillars of infection prevention: Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay home if you’re sick. Be a good human.
Things are tough. But we’re tougher.
Don’t be a dick. Wear a mask and protect your fellow humans.