There are certain things that cannot be taught. And the Coronavirus pandemic has certainly shed some light on that.
My daughter is 8. Schools are closed. Parks are closed. Playdates are effectively closed.
Her life before the stay-at-home orders and quarantines basically consisted of a structured academic life at school, an active extracurricular life in gymnastics, and lots of super-fun playdates with friends. Everything had its day, time, and place.
Now, my daughter's day-to-day life consists of talking to her friend next door through her screen window or behind a fence and random video chats with her other close friends on her tablet.
And those things have been the exciting highlights so far.
But as I’ve watched the days progress, I have noticed extraordinary developments in her growth that I now realize may not have happened otherwise.
In the spirit of finding a silver lining in all of this chaos, I’m going to share what my daughter has learned so far from the Coronavirus pandemic that I probably couldn’t have taught her on my own:
1. Boredom Doesn’t Exist Anymore
I don’t think I’m alone as a parent feeling freaked out about school being closed indefinitely.
I’ve been worried about boredom. Plain and simple.
The stress of wondering how I’m going to succeed as the commander in chief of the entertainment committee has been keeping me up at night.
But my daughter has managed to surpass my fears and adapt right before my eyes.
She’s managed to figure out how to play hide and seek in our backyard with the neighbor kids while they are also playing it in their backyards. Don’t ask me how — I don’t really need to know. All I know is that they’re doing it and they’re having fun.
They’ve also invented several more games to play while on opposite sides of the fence — and these are games I can guarantee you would never have been invented by these kids if we weren’t all staying at home 24/7.
Before this event I would get the, ‘I’m bored’ complaint numerous times a week. During this pandemic — I haven’t heard it once.
The idea of boredom has been overtaken by ingenuity, creativity, and imagination — something my child has always had but something that has been activated in an absolutely unique and extraordinary way due to how our lifestyle has now changed.
Perhaps knowing that I am simply not able to take her out to places, to friend's houses, or entertain her in all of the ways I used to has altered her way of thinking to make herself completely responsible for her own entertainment.
There’s no choice in the matter really. And I kind of love that she’s taken things upon herself without my guidance.
2. Parents Really Don’t Know Everything
I’ll admit — I’ve been freaking out. I’ve had some emotional breakdowns.
I’ve tried to remain calm but I haven’t been perfect at it — AT ALL.
So far, my daughter has probably seen me at my worst as well as my best and—lately— that pendulum can swing abruptly by the hour. She has been much better at coping than I have for the most part. I will give her immense credit for that.
I think my daughter has learned that this is a problem mom and dad can’t really fix. We can try to be cautious, try our best to keep our home a safe zone, but in the end — we can’t solve this problem for our kids.
We as parents don’t have the answers. We as parents are terrified. We as parents are under intense pressure right now. And we’re all trying desperately to hold it together for our kids.
Our kids are realizing that we’re scared. They’re realizing that people are getting sick and dying. They are realizing that people in their family could get sick or even die. And Mom or dad don’t have all the answers as they always seemed to before.
Our kids are adapting, they’re helping, and — above all — they still love us unconditionally even when we’re overwhelmed or crying in the kitchen.
That’s something only life experience can teach you.
3. Death Is Real — And it Doesn’t Discriminate
My daughter is pretty squeamish. She freaks out or even faints at the sight of blood. Her uncle died when she was very young but she wasn’t able to fully comprehend what that meant at the time so she didn’t think about it too much.
As far as close friends or family whom she spends a lot of time with she hasn’t had too much experience with anyone dying.
I haven’t really talked to my daughter too much about death up until now so not to freak her out. I figured we’d deal with it later.
But later is over. Time’s up for waiting on that conversation. None of us got a say in that one.
Now — death is everywhere. It’s on the news, it’s on YouTube, it’s on social media, it’s on the radio, and it’s on the lips of almost everyone we talk to who knows someone who has been affected by the Coronavirus.
Not only that, but the fear of death is a constant companion in our daily lives now. We don’t go out for fear of getting the virus as my daughter calls it.
She’s not in school, not going to the park, and not playing with her friends because she knows that if she or her friends pass it on to a vulnerable adult they might die.
My daughter is learning that death is always with us. I didn’t teach her that myself but now she’s aware of it whether I like it or not. And, most surprisingly to me — she’s dealing with it much better than I ever thought she would.
More from Michelle: I Know Why You Are Exhausted