One of the biggest lies of the whole 2020 Covid-19 spectacular is that ‘it doesn’t affect the kids’. But all around me, I’m seeing the same thing from parents ready to break down. “I don’t know what’s wrong with my kids, they just won’t listen to me”. Teachers are also at literal whit’s end, because they are living in a groundhog day of All Hallows Eve. The ghouls have come out and they haven’t gone away. The children have lost absolutely all focus and control of themselves. I tried to do a mindful meditation with a class that is well practiced in doing it. We have been doing it just about every lesson all year. But they wiggled around as much as an audience at a Wiggles concert. I couldn’t even get a group of teenagers to do nothing. Wild.
Why? Because their cups are full to the brim. Their brains are so full of thoughts, all day every day, that they are losing everyday function. I did a final lesson before an exam last week and I swear I saw it in action. I told them a fact about Macbeth, which went in one ear, but the basic function of how to open a door fell out the other ear.The evidence is shown everywhere, children are low risk of getting sick. But that that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect them. Is mental health not a sickness? Are we priding ourselves for living in a progressive world by saying ‘we care’, but not actually doing anything about it?
The younger the child, the less ability they have to critically analyse a situation like adults. Don’t yell at them, it’s not their fault, they literally can’t do it because their brain isn’t evolved yet. So they innocently just openly believe everything they hear. They are being told to stay clean, wash your hands, or you could get Covid. Then they are seeing and hearing how many people are dying of Covid 19. Think about that with a child’s brain for a second? This is what they are hearing “if I don’t wash my hands enough, I could die”. They are being told they can talk to their friends at school, but playing with them at home could be dangerous. “Why are our homes dangerous, but schools aren’t? Mum told me I was safe at home.”
The seniors of 2020 don’t get to have their parents at graduation. For some students they may be the first in their family to graduate. Or they might have had the fight of their life to just get to school everyday. Graduating school is one of the big life moments and the disappointment of it is real. But they are told to quit complaining, ridiculed when they do. How many times to you just get over the mood you are in by someone say “it doesn’t matter, just get over it.”
The worry about physical contact has become a permanent way of thinking for our children. I watched a music video clip in class, where people were dancing in a huge group. Before I could even get them to concentrate on the symbolism and imagery of the song, we had to get past the most relevant learning blockage. “Those people are way too close Miss, they are not social distancing.” Give that a minute to sink in people. Before a child even gets to rational thinking, they must go through the momentary panic of people touching and spreading a disease that could cause death. You may think that I am simplifying it, but that’s a child’s brain. They have heard everything we have sat and whinged about with our adult friends, they have heard the news playing, they have seen the pop ups in their news feed. But they can’t just ‘shrug it off’. They don’t know how.
I’m not saying any of this is anyone’s fault. We can’t change the fact we are living in a pandemic. Things are done for our own safety. But what I do want, is for people to just take a step back for a second. Don’t put so much pressure on yourselves mama and papa bears. So your child is refusing to put matched socks on. It doesn’t mean you have failed as a parent, because your once cute cub is now a vicious animal. No. It means your baby is just tired. Tired of thinking, tired of worrying, tired of being yelled at. Give them a break. And in the process give yourself a break. There’s nothing wrong with them, there’s nothing wrong with you.