Friday, June 5, 2020

What About Our kids? #5

We are so busy thinking about the bigger picture, and rightfully so. We are worried about the outcome on our economy, jobs, politics, racial movement, masks, education, and ourselves. But what's about our kids? Have we ever sat down, and thought about the impact on our kids? I am not talking about their physical health, even though we should be worried about the newest trend appearing among children, and it is a complication as a result of contracting CVID19. It is a scary stuff! I am constantly worried about their physical health, and how they will stay healthy throughout this pandemic. I am guilty of that. 

My older two, aged 7 and 5, have gone through so much. 

One day, we are bustling through our morning routine of eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing our teeth and combing our hair, packing up our assignments in the backpacks, making sure that cold lunches are provided for, and piling up in my faithful old red van to head to school. There, my 5 year old goes to 4K and my oldest goes to first grade. They play with their friends and classmates. They learn about the varied topics of the day. They view their teachers as their "parent" away from home. The oldest have lunch, recess, then continued his learning throughout the day. My 5 year old is picked up mid-morning, and comes home. Then we do our daily routine during the day until we pick up our oldest from school later that evening. 

Suddenly, all of this ended. 

At first, it is fun for my kids. They are given flexibility in their schedule to do packets from school at home, to go bed at later time, sleep in a bit more in the mornings, and they're getting more attention from us. My oldest has taken up reading Harry Potter series, and upon completing a book, we watch a movie! My second oldest has more time to do his art, build lego into amazing art, and to be with his older brother all of the time! They learn how to bake, and cook with me. We conduct wild experiments! Their favorite is creating lava lamp from the scratch, and the 100-year old egg! The older kids learn math by battling Pokemon cards. Our parents call the kids with excitement, and they love it. 

My younger two appreciated more time at home to be with me, to have longer naps, and to have to stick so closely to a strict schedule. I am sure that to our kids, we appeared to be relaxed, outgoing, and provided all of fun to them. In the truth, what they did not realize that we hide our worry behind our smiles, and we tried to compensate the loss of routine and normalcy by giving them more attention, to make it more vacation like during our mandated quarantine. 

As the weeks went on, my oldest started to pick up on things. He began to question. Why can't play with our neighbor friends? Why aren't we going to school? When can we see our grandparents? Why can't I see my friends? Why are you wearing a mask? Why do we have to put our shoes in a box by the door? What is Coronavirus? Why are you so sad? Why are you mad? Why is that person wearing gloves? I miss my friends. I miss my teacher. Are we going back to school? Where is my stuff at the school? Can we get that back? 

We decided that we wanted to be transparent with our oldest, and be honest in an age-appropriate manner. We explained to him that we had to stay at home to slow down the bad germs from making people so sick. It satisfied him. At the same time, the emotional toll did impact him. One day he was surprised by a wonderful video by his teacher, and it left him very distraught. He told me that he was both happy and so sad. He was so happy to see his teacher, but he was so sad not to see her in person anymore. As a mom, it wrenched my heart. How did I navigate through this? This was such an unique circumstance. Even I was struggling. Again, I decided to be transparent. I shed tears with my son, and agreed with him that I also felt both happiness as well as sadness. 

As the lockdown went on longer, I began to wonder the psychology impact on our kids, and wondered if long-term social distancing was healthy for them. Was it somewhat detrimental to their development to be isolated? To be constantly told that they can't interact with people? To distance themselves away from the society? 

As the lockdown lifted, I began to question the weight of risk and reward. Is it worth sending them to grandparents' house for a day? Can they go to a store with me? Would it be good for them to be around so many people, especially if they aren't socially distancing, or wearing masks? Is it really okay for my oldest to hear angry people insulting each other for whether wearing a mask or not, or to comply social distancing behavior? Is it really worth it for them to see all that just so I can grab milk? 

For this upcoming school year, should I send them to school with the pandemic still not being widely understood? I definitely do not want to them to lag in education, and I want them to see their friends again. But do I want them to come back with CVID19? Should I put them through an online school program? But I don't want to be the teacher! I have younger two to worry about as well. It is quite difficult to try teach children with varying education levels. I am so afraid of somehow messing up their education by not teaching this, or that. If the past 2.5 months has been an indicator of how well I teach, then I do not feel confident trying to teach during the whole school year. If I go down that path, then will I make my husband look bad to the community? After all, he's a middle school principal, and advocate for the students to safely return. I know if my kids are given a choice, then they will ask to go back go school! Should I be selfish and tell them no so I can further protect them, or should I just let them go back to school in person? At what cost? At what risk? Should I gamble it, and hope for the best? 

Since CVID19 is only beginning, and will be around for possibly a year, I have so many questions, but no answers.