CBC's morning news summary included a report on Ontario kids returning to classes, virtual school, from their homes. That made me wonder how many of these young people are ready to resume classes.
I grew up in a nice, middle class home. We never really wanted for anything. Dad worked. Mom worked. Their jobs were secure. It was a time of relative ease and comfort even if the TV set was black & white and the only remote control was the kids.
What sort of baggage, what measure of uncertainty, are these young people today carrying?
Mom and dad might well be laid off. They might be wage-slaves in Canada's new "job churn" employment market, the gig economy victims. Plans that the family may have had before the chaos may have been scrapped. They might have heard their folks grumbling about how they'll keep food on the table. Things that adults now worry about must be terrifying for their kids.
I don't know much about the educational system. I wasn't very fond of it, not nearly as fond as I was of truancy. Fortunately we have in our midst a number of teachers and retired teachers who blog regularly. Maybe they've got some helpful thoughts on how the school system can handle kids in distress.
For those caring for children or grandkids, Atlantic writer and psychotherapist, Lori Gottleib, has some useful advice on how to help those young people through this. You know how during the safety briefing on a flight they tell the parents that, in case of emergency, they have to put their own oxygen mask on before helping their child? She says it's sort of that same thing.
Parents are so focused on making things run smoothly for their kids that they’re running themselves ragged. Parents don’t eat regular meals, sleep enough, reach out to other adults for support, enlist their kids to help with the household duties, or take time for enjoyable activities like reading a book or taking a walk.
But nobody can function like this for long, and eventually parents’ own anxiety will become worse as a result. And if there’s one thing in a household that’s as contagious as a virus, it’s anxiety. Guess who’s in charge then? Not the person a kid wants in the pilot’s seat. In order to be present for their kids, parents first need to be present for themselves.