My daughter recently sent a photo of our eight-year-old granddaughter drawing a picture of a very sad face. As I looked at little Eloise with headphones in place and marker in hand, my eyes welled up. I thought back to that spunky little girl who was always so quick to use any opportunity to share her wit, but was now sadly experiencing the weight of uncertainty shared by so many children today.
Grownups are having a difficult time coping with the stress of rising unemployment, social distancing, unending negative news broadcasts, home schooling their children, limited availability of household items, sanitizing their homes, unpaid bills… Words fail to relate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic upon families, most especially young children whose energy and enthusiasm is contained within the confines of what is now called “the new norm” and who are unable to comprehend the enormity of the present situation. How can they, when the grown-ups they have always looked to for answers, have none to offer?
Eloise’s drawing of a sad face enabled her to get her emotions out into the open. Once drawn, she and her mother had a discussion about her drawing. My daughter explained to Eloise that it’s ok to feel sad, angry, frustrated, and the myriad of emotions that were going around in her little body. Nancy recognizes the importance of validating her daughter’s feelings and offering suggestions to help her cope during the present pandemic.
“When will we get back to normal?” Eloise asked her mom; a presently unanswerable question, yet one that needs to be addressed with reassurance and composure for Eloise to feel safe and secure, key ingredients to building confidence in a young child.
“I don’t know when this will be over. It might very well carry over into the fall and winter,” Nancy honestly replied. “It’s important to find ways to make the most of a bad situation.”
How do parents attempt to provide hope for a happy and safe home in the midst of a situation that offers them little hope of being resolved in a timely manner? To show confidence that things will improve when they are surrounded by a barrage of abysmal news? When hand sanitizers, empty supermarket shelves, and lack of social interaction have become the new norm?
When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Nancy is one of the best lemonade makers around. For some time now, Eloise has wanted to dye her hair pink, so pink was the order of the day. No big deal. The children were out of school until the end of the year and Eloise could use a change from the day to day monotony. A quick online purchase for the right shade of pink, followed by a brief at-home hair salon session, and voila! Eloise’s pink-toned tresses matched her rosy-cheeked smile as she proudly posed for commemorative photos.
As I look over Facebook posts, I realize that as difficult as these days might be, parents across the country are finding ways to make their own versions of lemonade. I have seen posts of grandparents doing FaceTime with their grandchildren wearing outlandish make-up complimented by equally outlandish costumes. I’ve viewed parents doing drives-by with neighbors just to enable their children to connect, however remotely. Birthday celebrations take the form of decorated cars honking loudly as they pass by the celebrant’s house.
There have been posts showing families taking hikes through wooded areas and enjoying the beauty of the budding of spring, creating art from what was casually discarded as trash in the past, and families renewed enjoyment of board games that had previously been overshadowed by the magnetic draw of technological devices.
As I view all of these wonderful, uplifting posts, I think of how this pandemic, painful as it is, has served to remind us of what we value most in life-our family, our friends, the many people who contribute to our well-being, and the natural beauty that surrounds us on a daily basis.