For all the parents and grandparents who were hoping, I was speaking about you – wrong I am speaking about the kids. The crisis has caused all of us to spend more time inside with each other. We can articulate the impact it has on us, the loss of our social physical networks, the bundled feelings of our world shrinking, etc etc. Over the last two months we have heard it all in the news, on the TV, on the internet — no resting place from the COV19 drama.
I watched my daughter randomly take refuge in a good book, away from us. Or even I myself get up earlier in the morning to steal a solitary moment in the quiet. But what about the little ones; the children who don’t understand yet feel the “difference” in their existence. They know they are not on vacation but “school” is not the same with mom. How will they be changed by remote learning, time away from their classroom peers, time away from their childhood friends?
Yesterday I was shocked; for almost a month, every night has been family game night. My granddaughter would delight in choosing a game, UNO, Charades, Connect Four, board games or something fresh from her imagination. Last night she announced, ” I need some me time” and went to her room to absorb herself in iPad game mania… or whatever they do at her age. I must admit, at first I was annoyed but upon further reflection, I marveled at her ability to articulate to her mom and grandmother that she did not necessarily want anyone’s company – she wanted to be on her own but not necessarily alone. When I later prodded she said, ” I don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings so when I don’t want to do something, I am quiet.”
I have grown in more ways than I can share. I now know that when my grand daughter is quiet it’s not a trigger for an issue or problem; she can shift, she can change, she can need time away from us too. But “shelter-in-place” does not give us the space we once had to be our own person away and come home to our family.
We are with us all the time.
What to do for more me-time for the little ones? Give it to them, let them find their own space in this brave new world. Allow them to explore quiet or noise or stillness or movement. We know how difficult this transition is for us and because we have never been through it before, it’s even more difficult to see the transition in our children. What we can do is listen more intently, hear their words, share their meaning, and be more empathetic.
My granddaughter smiled when I told her I was writing about her today – she said “are you writing about my life.” I told her about some of my other stories, and she said, “Oh I never can do that” and I assured her she could. Then she turned her iPad to me to view and shared her digital storybook filled with illustrations and stories she had authored. What wonderful outcomes from a little, “me time”. Hopefully we all can learn from the little ones what they need and what we need too.