“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.” – Oprah Winfrey
On the afternoon of Friday, March 13th, I received an email from the principal of my younger son’s school:
“During this crazy time, we need each other more than ever. We need to help where we can and bring relief and reassurance where possible…” The message went on to describe how the learning environment would be restructured.
During this crazy time? The vernacular sounded amateurish, tinted with a slight undertone of panic. I would agree, there is quite of bit of uncertainty in the world as COVID-19 takes center stage, but to use the term “crazy time?” – was inappropriate. I didn’t bother to read any further.
Over the last two weeks, my family has been sheltering-in-place and social-distancing and while it is challenging at times, we are working together to maintain a positive outlook as things become more certain.
I have observed the impact of this shelter-in-place on my children, the generation that has grown up doing everything via technology and social media; remote learning was an easy transition for my older son who attends a technology-based high school – his school was up and running remotely within hours of the announcement – or so it seemed. My younger son has transitioned seamlessly once his school finished restructuring the learning environment.
Overall, remote learning has been positive for both of my kids, however, the other day my older son said, “Mom, I really miss school. I mean, I really miss being there, and I miss my friends.”
“But you’re texting them and talking to them online?” I queried.
“Yes, but it’s not the same,” he said.
Ah, he’s missing the human interaction, so funny to think, these kids who hang out together online and use texting as their primary form of communication.
I’ll never forget September 11, 2001, the day terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. My husband and I watched silently, tears coming down our faces as we viewed coverage on the news. As I watched, I thought about a business trip I had taken two weeks before when I felt as if I had hit the glass ceiling at work. The word “baby” popped into my mind. I looked at my husband and said, “Maybe it’s time we start a family.” Our son was born 314 days later.
My son entered this world in a time of fear and turbulence, yet he has never let fear stand in his way, instead, he found his voice, one of calm reason, and patience. He has stepped into leadership roles effortlessly and with an open mind. A few weeks ago, he was smiling from ear to ear when he received confirmation of his voter registration, excited and proud to make an impact and incite change.
This shelter-in-place has invoked not only a desire for face-to-face interaction but also a realization that he will miss his final semester of senior year, at a school where he grew and matured into an independent, sophisticated thinker.
“What’s not the same?” I asked, turning my attention back to him.
“I miss seeing my friends. Do you realize I am going to miss senior prom? I am going to miss graduation. I am going to miss my Eagle Scout ceremony,” he said, “and last week’s game may have been my last baseball game.” There was finality in his last statement.
“I know, Kev,” I said, “you’ve worked so hard and put in so much effort,” I said, “it’s hard for me to see this happen to you, I am sure it’s even harder for you.” We sat there for a moment.
The email from my younger son’s principal – During this crazy time – came to mind, yes, all of this seems crazy, but in order to get through it, we just need to shift our focus, change our perspective, and look ahead to the next chapter.
“You’re a 9/11 baby, Kev,” I said, “you’re resilient. Look at everything you’ve overcome and right now, you’ve been forced to close a chapter in your life earlier than expected, but there are new chapters ahead of you.”
“Like college,” he said.
“Yes, like college,” I said.
The only thing “crazy” about right now is grasping the idea that my baby is heading off to college. In the interim, I will be patiently waiting to see how the next chapter unfolds.