This morning, before I’d even had my first cup of coffee, I started nagging my son. To unload the dishwasher. To put away his laundry. To turn in his late school assignments.
A few minutes later, he went downstairs to sit in front of his computer and “go to school,” and I realized, WOW, these kids are actually doing a really great job.
Back in March, their worlds were flipped upside down. They were cut off from their friends. They saw their teachers a couple times a week on an often-chaotic Zoom call. Vacations and birthday parties were cancelled. In the several months since then, things have only gotten marginally better.
There’s a lot of talk about how much kids are suffering right now — emotionally, socially, mentally. And this is true. Without in-person school, and frequent interactions with friends, lots of kids are lonelier and more anxious than usual. These are serious issues, and shouldn’t be dismissed or taken lightly.
But can we also acknowledge how amazing kids also are? When I look around – not just at my own kids, but their peers and friends – I am literally in awe. Their worlds have been flipped upside and they are dealing with it better than most adults I know.
They wear masks without hesitation.
They go to school in front of a computer for 6-7 hours a day, with no less dedication to the task at hand.
They’ve mastered new skills like video conferencing on a dime.
And most importantly they’ve learned that daily life can become almost unrecognizable from the life they’ve known, and they are able to adjust and evolve and maybe even find some happiness in all of it.
Lots of folks talk and write about the soft skills that kids are building right now – resiliency, flexibility, creativity, empathy – but they’re sometimes dismissed or minimized because they’re so squishy. People tend to think of them as bonus skills — sure, they’re great, but not as important as, you know, math facts and reading. Except they actually are as or more important. They are HUGE.
I’ll be honest, even though we’re several months into pandemic life, it still doesn’t get any easier. In fact, I have to resist the urge to put my head down on the table and cry most days.
Even worse, there are lots of adults who literally throw a giant tantrum over something as simple as wearing a face mask. Other adults are protesting and demanding things go “back to normal,” even if it means putting entire communities at risk, because they can’t deal with change of this scale and they simple refuse to be flexible. And I kind of get where all this is coming from. Change is hard. Those of us who were kids in the ‘80s were fed a hefty diet of “this is how things are done” with a side of “pay our dues” and “play by the rules.” Sure, we were taught the value of hard work and sacrifice, but in an individual kind of way.
Our kids will be different. Better. They are learning the importance of collective sacrifice. They are practicing every day how to be flexible and adapt to new situations. And they are becoming more resilient in the process.
It can be so easy to get caught up in how our kids are driving us bonkers these days. After all, we’ve been cooped up with them for months and months on end. We can dwell on the frustrations that come with living with teens. The constant video games. The dirty dishes and candy wrappers all over the house. The late assignments and forgotten chores. The TikToking. (OMG, the TikToking!) But when you step back and take a look at things, they are really doing some amazing things. They are learning – and teaching us — how to adapt and change and find happiness even when life gets all out of whack. And this is no small feat.
So take a minute to tell the kids in your life how amazing they are. Because they are.