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What to do when your granddaughter cries in crisis

Learn to listen, adjust, and adapt

Before the pandemic I traveled, worked and had short visits with my daughter and grand-daughter when I could.  The “New Normal” is my granddaughter and my daughter moved in with me while we all started remote work and distance learning.  All was well at “granny’s” house for the first three weeks — it was as if it was a long-overdue vacation.  Then my granddaughter started losing track of the days because school and the weekend were all in the same place.  As we were nearing the holiday season, her mom told her Easter is this weekend and the 6-year-old began to cry.  When her mother inquired why, she said, “it’s Easter and I will miss the Easter egg hunt.”  Her mother, a former elementary school teacher quickly put plans A and B into effect.  Plan A was she had pre-ordered a custom Easter basket, but due to the mail slow down, the priority package never arrived.  Plan B she headed to the local Family Dollar store and purchased a backup Easter Basket, eggs for the hunt, and other props needed for the “only child” party.  Then on Sunday, all twelve colorful eggs were hidden around the backyard and the Easter tradition was saved at granny’s house! Crisis 1  averted.

Home Schooling with a mom who is working full time remotely is different for both.  Much of the day my granddaughter is on her iPad playing games either alone or with her friends virtually.  She started spending so much time on the games, her mother used parental controls to limit gaming to 4 hours.  This week on-line learning started for 1st graders using Blackboard Collaborate.  The first day the system was slow with only elementary students in training sessions.  The second day when middle schoolers joined, Blackboard crashed and school was canceled on the system for the rest of the week.  Teachers scrambled to engage students on other platforms while both parents and students waited.  At the end of the first day of training my granddaughter once again cried.  For a brief moment, she saw her teacher and classmates who were missing from her world for over a month … and with the Blackboard system crash, there was no timeline (that she could understand) when they would be back.  This led to the iPad gaming restrictions being temporarily lifted, and the tears dissolve — if only temporarily. Crisis 2 averted.

Finally, my granddaughter, an only child, wanted to give gifts back to her mom.  We traditionally had shopped at the Dollar store when it was time for her to spend her money on gifts.  When I announced the Dollar store was temporarily closed, she looked me in the eye, as if to doubt me and said, “all both of the ones you take me to?”  I took a deep breath and said what do you want to get your mother?  She replied, “she wants a notebook.”  I said let’s go shopping in Granny’s store.  I opened a drawer filled with notebooks, and she selected one for her and one for her mom.  Then she said, “I want to get her jewelry too.”  I said, let’s go upstairs, and we will find something for her.  The first few pieces we viewed were not suitable, then she found a piece and said,” that’s mommy’s favorite color, let’s get that one.”   Finally, a smile and I knew we were nearing the end of Crisis 3.  I asked when will you give your gifts to your mommy? She replied I will hide them in the bedroom and surprise her with an Easter egg hunt for her gifts.  She smiled again pleased with her ability to give back to her mom who was the only constant in her changing world.

It may take decades after COV19 to determine the emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical impact the disruption has caused to our children’s lives.  What this has taught me is that we need to be creative in bridging the past to the future.  Our children, like us, have never experienced a shutdown, lockdown, stopping of their world.  Hopefully, we can help tears turn to smiles no matter how we improvise memories from their past.

 

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