It has certainly been a strange year, hasn’t it?
Your tiny bubble burst a little over a year ago when you were off for spring break from school and all of a sudden you just weren’t going back. In a home where tech time isn’t part of the norm, you were suddenly taking classes online and seeing your teachers through a screen. You were talking to friends and family via computer and you weren’t allowed to start your soccer season.
In fact, more and more things were getting shut down and canceled, and your constantly on-the-go-family was hanging out at home A LOT and didn’t really go anywhere. Birthday parties were held via drive-through car parades, and words like “safer/shelter/stay at home” and “social distancing” became part of your vernacular. Your non-crafty mom even started busting out crazy art projects like giant driveway chalk installments and painting the windows with real paint.
It was really confusing.
One day, the youngest among you started describing playgrounds to us. “They have slides, and swings, and sometimes they’re blue, or green. They’re really fun.” She thought we had forgotten what they were and that’s why we hadn’t been in awhile.
But you thrived.
You kids are very fortunate to live in a home that you love, filled with plenty of toys and space to run outside. In fact, once all of the extracurriculars were taken away, your imaginative and cooperative play just blossomed. You would play inventive games together for hours on end, often to the point where Daddy and I didn’t think you remembered we existed.
You slept longer, ate better, and each of you grew several inches. You delved into hobbies and pulled out crafts and toys that had been all but forgotten in a corner of the closet or shoved under your bed.
We hit our stride.
We got into a pretty good rhythm with homeschooling, playing outside as much as possible, touching base with friends and family virtually, and just hanging out together. Honestly, you were the happiest and most relaxed I’d seen you in a long time.
But then things started getting weirder and you had to learn some pretty big lessons at a very young age.
All of a sudden, while the majority of the country was still very much locked down, things in the area in which we live began to open back up. We were faced with some important decisions that challenged our values, forced us to examine our belief systems, and essentially taught us a lot of important lessons that your father and I figured would come much later in your lives.
#1: Things aren’t always black and white, and they certainly don’t always make sense.
It began with the sounds of kids playing in the neighborhood and expanded to businesses opening back up. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to what was open and what wasn’t. The indoor trampoline park was open, but your outdoor nature class wasn’t allowed to run. Kids could go to gymnastics classes, but couldn’t play at the playground. Some kids were having birthday parties where some weren’t even able to leave their houses.
#2: You have to do what you believe is right, and that’s not always the same for everyone.
The school decision was hard. Many schools throughout the country were strictly virtual, but not for us. We had the option to go in person, do virtual, or homeschool. The angst amongst parents in making the decision was palpable. In the end, everyone decided what was best for their families with the information they had. I think that was actually the one thing most people agreed on: there wasn’t any perfect choice.
#3: Life just isn’t fair.
It wasn’t fair that your world got turned upside down. It was really frustrating when things got canceled at the last minute. It didn’t make sense that some kids were allowed to do things that other kids weren’t. It wasn’t fair that kids in one town could go to school and kids in the town over couldn’t. It wasn’t fair that some people lost their jobs while others were buying up property faster than it could be built. So few things made sense that we found ourselves forced to utter the same words we always hated to hear as kids ourselves, “life isn’t fair.”
#4: Sometimes people aren’t who you thought they were.
It’s one thing to disagree about things, but another to be ugly about it. Unfortunately, you saw and heard some really nasty things and as much as we wanted to shelter you from it, some of it was just inevitable. It was really hard and shocking to see so much latent anger, racism, and hatred coming out. I’m sure it was also shocking for you to notice it was mainly the adults behaving poorly, not the kids. Fortunately, you also experienced plenty of good and developed some solid friendships and a deeper understanding of humanity.
#5: We can only control ourselves.
It was definitely hard seeing such a divide in what people felt was “right.” We couldn’t tell anyone what to do, as much as they couldn’t tell us what to do. The only power we have is controlling our own thoughts and actions. We learned to trust our own values, to listen and research with an open mind, and to do what we believed was best for our family. So many people waste so much angst trying to control things over which they have none.
#6: Don’t worry what others think.
It was certainly a strange test for all of us to live in a place where masks were so controversial. It was hard for those wearing them to be in the minority in places where most people weren’t wearing them, and it was hard for those not wearing them to go into places where they were asked to do so. You quickly showed that you didn’t care if you stood out in the crowd and stayed true to yourself.
It was such a weird time.
Through it all you kept your smile. Your creativity flourished, your sibling bond strengthened tenfold, your confidence grew right along with your well-rested body. Your innocence was challenged time and time again with things getting canceled, things not making sense, hearing people fight about masks, vaccines, politics. Your entire world as you knew it basically changed and you literally just went with the flow.
I’m extremely impressed and proud of you for handling all of the adversity that was thrown your way. You were too young to have to learn many of these big lessons with which many adults struggle. Yet you grew, you thrived, and you flourished.
You’re resilient, you’re strong, you’re smart, you’re kind, you’re flexible, you’re awesome. I have no doubt that you will take these skills with you as you grow and can only pray that you are stronger and more prepared for the craziness that life throws at you because of it.