The world is challenging and changing in unparalleled ways. I have a knack for being in the right place at the wrong time – a Belfast airport bombing, tsunami in Indonesia, Europe during 9/11 and a new business during the GFC. Some COVID-19 scenarios feel familiar – the empty streets and contagious anxiety about stuff I cannot fathom or control. There is also an odd calmness, though, perhaps because it’s affecting everyone.
I wanted to check in with my child about the pandemic and potentially scary global response, ready with reassuring answers, soothing philosophical sayings and practical ways to enjoy the unexpected time together to distract us both. I worried too much, turns out.
Unprompted, my 10-year-old asked how long this will last and if it may cause a change for the better? He reasoned that many generations before us likely felt the world was ending at times, facing war and famine, but it didn’t. He said that nobody prepares for evolution, it just happens.
He pointed out positive outcomes like having time to learn new skills and independence. He thinks our old dog is enjoying all the extra walks and, after all, may not have many years left. He said more strangers smile and say hello, albeit from a distance.
He likes our new routines for mornings, tea breaks, astronomy viewings, swims and finally using his Kindle instead of iPad. He volunteered to try our homegrown vegies that look weird. He sat and hand wrote letters to family and a new pen pal his age in the US – just like I did as a child, because he has met that lifetime friend and thinks getting mail would be fun.
He Googled the word apocalypse, then asked me to watch suggested movies like The Matrix, Godzilla and 2012 with him. As the credits rolled, he said it’s not that bad for us, is it? My kid is no saint, but he knows how to reset my focus.
Not everyone is dealing easily with isolation. We know we are all in it together but that does not necessarily help. Resilience is a strength that’s learned and the more of us who can feel, demonstrate and offer it to others, the better for us all.
Just like us, our kids have not navigated this path before and their view of it is unique to them yet coloured by our own. We can choose to make it a period they will remember for its good bits. Ever the music fan, my son suggested REM’s song for navigating this time – it may be the end of the world as we know it, but I feel fine.