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Challenge: Pandemic Parenting

We will come back to you

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For Mother's Day, my 17-year-old offered to write a post for me. This was his gift.


We Will Come Back to You

Hello everybody, I’m Joey Cariello. I am the oldest of five siblings, and my brother Jack has autism.

Originally, I planned to write this post as a Mother’s Day gift, and center the piece around my relationship with my brother. However, when I sat down at my desk, a different narrative came to mind.

Right now, we’re all focused on one thing. It’s all over the news. It’s all people talk about. How we work, how we shop, how we eat and sleep and breathe has been affected by this phenomenon.

I haven’t even mentioned it by name, and you already know what it is. And in this time of infection and isolation, it’s easy to feel angry at those we see on the news, protesting and denouncing the uphill climb the world faces.

I know that the advice of “treat others how you want to be treated” seems tired and childlike, but in the face of a widespread socio-economic crisis, I think it’s best to remember that everyone goes through this a little differently. Take where I, 17-year-old Joey Cariello, am, for example.

As a high school student ending his junior year, I should be breezing through life. I have no bills to pay, no unemployment money to apply for, no mouths to feed. I could cheat on every online test that gets thrown at me. Who would know? I could Google every question on the assignments I get, collect my barely-earned 100 and be on my merry way.

I haven’t done this, though. In fact, I am barely doing my assignments at all.

Most adults would agree that there is no excuse to become negligent about what little students have on their plate right now. But a lot of teens are becoming negligent. Why?

Sans-health crisis, many students like myself would be focused on one thing: the future. We would be looking at colleges and trying to decide if we want to move far away, or stick closer to home.

I miss my friends. I miss my teachers. Their approval meant a lot to me, and inspired me to stay focused. I even miss the food in the cafeteria.

Instead of walking to the next room to take a class, I just click on another tab on my Chromebook.

I keep asking myself, now what?

As if trying to brainstorm ideas for a college major and an occupation to follow weren’t hard enough. Without the standardized tests, school counselor meetings, and bond of uncertainty found amongst most students, individuals like myself feel like we’ve lost the “tried and true’” system we thought was going to help us find a career we would enjoy.

For the most part, I have stopped thinking about this stuff altogether.

When my mother asks me about college, I get a pit in my stomach. I can’t picture it for myself. I can’t figure out how I will put all the pieces together in order to get there. SAT’s, ACT’s, teacher recommendations, admission forms.

My mother and father ask and ask what is wrong. They demand to know why my grades have dropped, and I don’t have an answer.

I don’t want to do my work. I don’t see the point, and that is the truth. I feel empty about it all. I’m not sure how to explain it.

I don’t know what I want to do for the rest of my life. I don’t know who to be. It’s as though I am staring at a great big white canvas, but I’ve lost my paintbrush.

Maybe you’re wondering why I am telling you this. I guess I want you to know, in the time of this pandemic, it’s important to be patient with those around us, but I think it’s especially important to be patient with your teenagers.

We are a little lost right now, but we will come back to you. We may not return the same way in which we left, but it will be okay.

Related video about Joey Cariello's mom and younger brother, Jack:

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