As I watch my twitter feed fill with more alerts about what is closing and what may close, I am saddened for our high school students. No, in the broad scope of life – this is not a real sacrifice. We can all do them one better, but..
Let’s let them grieve, shall we?
Oh, sure I have seen the memes chastising our youth and those claiming the quarantine is a hardship, “your grandparents were sent to war; you’re just being sent to the couch…” I have laughed at more than one of them. I get it. Humor is a coping mechanism; as coping mechanisms go – it is healthier alternative.
Except, so few of our seniors in high school, whose sport seasons may have ended, whose graduations and proms are probable causalities in the name of caution, whose lives haven’t spanned two decades yet – have no concept of what we are talking about. Very few of them, thankfully, have been directly or indirectly effected by any war. For the biggest majority of them, this is the biggest sacrifice they have ever faced. (whether that is a good thing or not is another topic) Plus, this virus is scary; it's unknown. It's making most grown folk crazy; it would be totally normal for our teens to over-react.
Here’s my question for you…
Can you fix it for them?
Why not let them hurt; let them mourn; let them be sad, or frustrated. I mean within reason, why not let them just feel it, and help them feel it, naming their emotions, helping them make good choices even though they are mad, sad, frustrated and totally ticked. After they have sulked for a while, why not pose the question… “What can we be thankful for?”
“What can we do for someone else who is also suffering?”
Our frantic schedules usually steal time away from us and the children we love, inhibiting the real conversations about real life, about struggle, about hardship, about enduring anyway. Why not make our kids feel like, for more than a few moments, their feelings are real and important, so when their minds are in a good place, then we can help them process what they have lost -because it is a form of loss. Then, we can help them empathize with other forms of loss, but first we have to listen.
If you have stories like I do of eating beans every single night for the entire winter, you can laugh through them with your kids, describing how no amount of ketchup or brown sugar can make those things taste like anything but dirt. Maybe you can do me one better.
As adults, we should always be our kids safest place to say anything. Their fears should not include being honest with us, ever. We won’t always like what we hear, but we can be darn grateful our kids are here telling us their thoughts and fears and frustrations. Plus, we adults may be able to fool a hundred other folks any day of the week, a hundred times, but we will never fool a kid. You either care, or you don’t; they can size that up in a matter of minutes, and they don’t learn from folks who don’t care.
So, while we are barking at them to wash their hands and to only use 4 squares of that blessed toilet paper – let’s let them be sad at what they have lost or might lose. A childhood cut short deserves a little healthy grace.
It might cost us some patience, a little sanity, some self-control – but it will be a sacrifice of great worth.