The Kids Are All Right: How My Kids Taught Me Resilience in the Age of COVID-19

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Laura Spiegel

It’s been thirty-eight days since my family has ventured out of the neighborhood. Thirty-eight days since the kids have shot hoops with their friends. Thirty-eight days since they’ve played catch, colored the sidewalk, or done anything with anyone even remotely their age. Thirty-eight days of Mom’s non-award-winning cooking, Dad’s mildly successful attempts at sibling mediation, and the keen knowledge that anyone approaching our end of the cul-de-sac is to be avoided at all costs.

My kids are nine and six. Well, nine-and-a-half and six-and-three-quarters to be precise. And I have to hand it to them, they have braved this new normal with a resilience that’s far outmatched that of their parents.

When the morning of March 12th dawned, I woke to a strange mixture of anticipation and uncertainty. This would be their first day staying home from school. My youngest has cystic fibrosis, so we pulled the trigger on at-home education a few days before the rest of the school system. Had I known that everyone else would follow suit just a few days later, my concerns would have been eased. But at the time, I had no idea. I just thought my kids would be the only ones staying home while their peers continued to learn together, play soccer and basketball together, and run the neighborhood after school.

I was worried. Would they feel left out? Would they understand? Would they revolt and flag down the bus to catch up with their friends?

My son’s response? “Cool! No school.” My daughter’s? “Yay! No more homework.” (I don’t think they really understood the whole school from home thing).

Later that morning, I tried to come up with some mildly educational things to keep the kids away from their iPads for an hour or two. I wrote out schedules that I was pretty sure no one would embrace. I sat down at the dining room table and called the kids to “class.”

To my surprise, they actually came.

We spent the next few days doing YouTube science experiments, dancing to old school music videos (e.g. PE class), and slapping glitter on anything under the sun. I am not a crafty mom, so this took some effort.

I waited for the kids to refuse. To catch onto the fact that I couldn’t ground them (my go-to punishment) because they couldn’t leave the house anyway. To squirrel away in their rooms downloading questionable video games and planning a coup.

It didn’t happen. My son went to bed the first night and declared, “Only ten more hours until we can do more science!”

This is the kid who would rather pull his own teeth out than sit down to do homework.

I’d be lying if I said that the past 36 days have gone well. They haven’t. School whipped up some e-learning that’s a bit more rigorous than baking soda and glitter. The kids have found new ways to insult one another and infringe on each other’s space. My daughter has learned a slew of curse words (thank you, The Sandlot), and she’s not afraid to use them. She also refuses to wear pants most days, so we’ve got that going for us, too.

I’m finding myself hitting the wine and hiding in the bathtub earlier and earlier each evening. I’ve realized that it’s next to impossible to work from home, troubleshoot the kid’s schoolwork (“Seriously? Just READ the directions!”), and prevent Mortal Kombat from going down – all in the same breath. And I only work part-time. Full-time mamas, hats off to you. I would have promoted myself to a bathtub office with on-site drink service weeks ago.

But the kids? The kids are all right.

I thought they would struggle to understand why we had to stay home. Why they couldn’t roam the neighborhood from sun up to sun down as they did just two short months ago. Why their best friends went from permanent fixtures in our basement to intermittent FaceTime buddies overnight.

Why they couldn’t go to soccer practice or Daisies or Target or their favorite restaurant. Why their entire existence had been confined to our yard and our family.

It’s hard for us adults to wrap our brains around it. Let alone a couple of kids.

And yet… Here is some of what I’ve heard over the last 38 days: “Yes! Saturday crepes are the best!” “I can’t wait for family foosball and movie night!” And my personal favorite, “Why would I be sad when I have you guys?”

I sneaked a peek at the time capsules the kids did for school last week. Here is some of what they said:

Words to describe how I feel: “Happy.”

What I have learned from this experience: “Staying home is the safest.”

I am most thankful for: “My family and my house.”

Letter to myself: “I am so happy we are doing a time capsule, and Mommy says when I am seven or eight, I can get a cat, and some of the flowers are starting to bloom, and I just can’t wait for our time capsule.”

My kids are blessed. They are both healthy. Their parents can safely work from home. They have access to technology to continue to learn and stay connected with their friends. They don’t worry about where their next meal will come from. They don’t have to deal with violence in the house. They have a yard to run in. They stay up late and fall asleep snuggled up next to me. Unless there’s a run on Nutella, they can eat crepes most mornings. They are very, very blessed.

Maybe that’s why I expected them to complain more… I thought it would be harder for them to see the bigger picture. I thought they would dwell on how much has changed so quickly. I thought they might revolt against a life that is literally just the four of us within these four walls.

But they’ve surprised me. Like all of our kids, they are strong, adaptable, and resilient. They realize that two of the most important things in their lives are having a safe home and a healthy family. And they are doing their part to maintain that.

I’ve learned not to underestimate my kids. They can teach us a lot about resilience.

All our kids can.

And that, my friends, gives me great hope for our future.

Stay safe, be well, and God bless.

 

Help Others Live STRONGER and LONGER-

                                                                                            


 

Laura Spiegel lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children, one of whom has cystic fibrosis. She loves a good book, a great glass of wine, and connecting with others who nurture the blessings alongside the battles. Laura is the Founder and President of Paint Her in Color, a web site that offers emotional support to parents of children with special health care needs. She can be reached at https://www.paintherincolor.com, laura@paintherincolor.com, https://www.facebook.com/paintherincolor, or https://twitter.com/her_color.

 

 

 

***Views expressed in the CFLF Blog are those of the bloggers themselves and not necessarily of the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation*** 

 

***Please speak with your physician before making any changes to your CF management***

 

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