I sit in my home most of the day, although I do a walk, some in-home exercise, and housework, which my Noom data counts as exercise, too. I am considered a highly susceptible person, given my age, so I adhere to isolation directions carefully. I have a sweet little townhouse with a view outside, good light, a dear husband to share my predicament, and lots of wonderful friends!
And I am going batshit crazy to be cooped up inside, despite my privilege. I need to move.
As an educator by trade, the parent of three children, and the grandparent of two, I cannot imagine how parents are navigating this situation. Like me, kids are in need of motion, and that sets the bar for our times, in my opinion.
We in the school business have learned a lot about kids in the last 40 years. We know that kids need to move to learn. We know that media is deleterious to child development and mental health. We know that high-quality relationships between parent and child are of paramount importance in cultivating healthy families.
And we know that as parents are now required to maintain a household while working from home, managing children, and engaging learning, that they face an impossible task. My mind cannot contain the reality that some of our parents are the very people who are working with the sick and maintaining our food and other necessary supports, and my heart goes out to them with gratitude.
I do not worry that parents can find a negotiated place in which to land in this mess. We parents are resilient, as that is the definition of parenting. At some point we brought a being into our lives, a complete stranger, who taught us everything we know, as we learned on the fly how to take care of them. Every day, school or no school, work or no work, we face insurmountable odds and somehow live to tuck our kids in bed with a hug at the end of each day.
I do not worry that most children’s education will be short-changed during this pandemic, as I know that children are resilient, probably more resilient than we appreciate. I know that when viewed from a certain vantage point, children are always learning, regardless of school opportunities, and that when placed back in those educational opportunities their learning will be enhanced by their experiences.
I do worry about two things, and they deeply concern me.
I worry about the people whose lives have always been on the Cat in the Hat balancing ball that we are experiencing today. They wake up that way, normally. This situation is only a magnifying glass on their challenges.
I worry that the tracks of this illness will penetrate beyond the imprints of our blood, with deep changes in our psyches as we face the demands of this illness and beyond.
It’s our nature as humans to solve problems, and some among us are busily hatching plans for future: more all-encompassing digital solutions to augment the challenges we face in a pandemic. Isolated learning, blending the aspects of the sane and insane world, can connect us and also separate us from human contact.
Imagining a world inside can dull our already dormant appreciation for the natural environment. Those of us who can, plan home expansions pushing us further into the boundaries of nature, leaving those who need small, usable homes to literally forage for food and shelter and the numbers in this situation are growing.
My hope is that while we engage our unstoppable imaginations in solving our immediate problems, those of us who can, will take time to wonder about this:
How do we preserve and reclaim natural land that provides enough space for people to wander safely?
How do we scale back our wants and needs so we can share them more equitably?
How can we build safeguards for all humans, so no one suffers?
My hope is that alongside those among us solve the immediate problems, that we will drill down to the unanswered questions above that underlie the current situation more than we can appreciate. When dealing with how to find flour and yeast and garlic and toilet paper, I hope we also find compassion, and awe, and inspiration to move our species far forward to a more inclusive world.