I didn’t want to write this post. It feels like we are just at the starting point of everything coronavirus and there’s so much that I’d rather write about but, honestly, I can’t do that, either. I am absolutely loathe to add to the noise – the cacophony! – around this subject. But, since my mind just doesn’t want to think of anything besides this freaking pandemic, and since my kids and family are my absolute world, here we are. All of my thoughts, my hopes and despairs, dreams and worries for my kids and yours in this Letter to My Kids: Coronavirus Edition.
Well, this is a bummer of a spring break, isn’t it? You have every right to be disappointed in the way it turned out. Believe me, I’m disappointed, too! And I am so very sorry that you have to go through this. More sorry than you can really understand, I think. You shouldn’t have to worry about the coronavirus or quarantines or “social distancing.” And it must be hard to live in a world where the rules keep changing every day. But that’s the way it is now, isn’t it?
It’s incredibly difficult, yeah? Everything in the world seems to have a giant question mark hanging over it. So many uncertainties and unknowns, so many things we take for granted being removed from our lives. Surely, you have questions about it all! Unfortunately (and quite frustratingly, if I’m honest), your dad and I don’t have many answers to those questions. You see, this is all just as much uncharted territory for us as it is for you! But we’re the grownups, aren’t we? We’re the ones you look to for security and answers and direction. And right now, we just don’t have a lot of that to give. We can only do the best we can with what we have. We’ll offer encouragement and support and lots & lots of love to you, of course! But here’s the God’s honest truth:
We love you and we’re doing our best. But we don’t know what in the world we’re doing in this mess, either.
That said, kiddos, here are a few things I want to tell you.
For my 3rd grader…
Oh, sweet girl. Thank you for continuing to be your bright, bubbly, beautiful self in such a dull, dark time! Yes, you’re bummed to not get to play with your friends more. But the way you soldier on is so impressive to me. For instance, others may complain that they are bored, but you always find something to do. Whether it’s LEGO building, coloring, playing with your dolls, or reading a book, you always find something to occupy your time. And what’s more, you encourage others to join you! You have a knack for seeing people’s needs and wanting to fill them and that is such a gift to our family.
Sure, you wish things were different and you miss school and your teacher and time with friends. But you’re taking the situation at hand and rolling with it. Now, maybe that’s part of being almost 9 or maybe it’s just your personality. Either way, thank you for that, my girl. Keep up the good work! We’re going to need your innate happiness and energy as we make our way through the unknown and the tumult of the coming weeks.
For my 6th grader…
Because your first year of middle school isn’t whackadoodle enough, apparently, life had to throw a pandemic your way? Oy.
First of all, let me tell you that I see you. I see that you are maturing and growing up so fast. I see that you have a deep rooted need for social interaction. And I see that you are totally, thoroughly, and 100% bummed about all that you’re having to let go. You miss your dance classes, your school, and most of all your friends. I know this, my girl, and the fact that I can’t snap my fingers and let you have it all back hurts my heart.
You are someone who craves…no, actually needs…social interaction. An extrovert to your core, you’re going to get real sick of all of us real quick, I’m afraid. And, to be painfully honest, we might get sick of each other! But please understand that all of these “rules” Dad and I are enforcing are for your ultimate safety and well-being. I promise you that we aren’t just being mean. And I think, deep down, you know that to be true.
I’m proud of you for how you’ve handled everything so far. And I have a feeling that when we start our experiment in “distance learning – slash – homeschooling” soon, you are going to be my prize pupil.
For my 9th grader…
Let’s be real here, kiddo. I honestly think this is hardest on you of anybody. You just turned 15 and the world was your oyster. Driver’s ed was starting soon, you loved going to the gym, and you had lots of freedom to roam the neighborhood and spend time with your friends. Now, you must feel like Mom and Dad have taken away all of the best parts of your life.
Please hear me when I say that it hurts me to tell you no all the time.
Kiddo, you’re caught in this really weird time in your life. 15 is kind of a strange age, anyway, but throw a pandemic in the mix and everything goes haywire! You’re suspended in this odd place of being physically mature and used to the freedoms and responsibilities that go along with that, but also being not quite emotionally mature enough to process everything that’s happening. You get angry and sullen and that makes me angry and frustrated and it’s just this nasty cycle that benefits neither of us. Let’s both promise to work on that, OK?
For my 12th grader…
OK, kid, I’m just going to say it. THIS SUCKS. Your senior year should not be this way. You should not have to deal with disappointment after disappointment, cancellation after cancellation. You just shouldn’t.
I am so desperately sorry that, one after another, all of these milestones you have worked for and looked forward to are being taken away from you. First, your band trip was cancelled with less than 24-hours notice. Then, your chance to play at the state solo & ensemble competition. You’ve had that as a goal ever since you picked up the trombone way back in the 6th grade. After that, the two big jazz festivals were canceled and, with them, any opportunity you’d have to play a song that featured you. Not the whole trombone section, not a pair of horns, but you. And that’s just the stuff we already know about!
Son, at this point, I don’t know about prom. I don’t know about your final concert or awards ceremonies. I don’t even know about graduation and that just kills me. Things you’ve looked forward to, special time with your friends…it’s all being taken away. Wiped away like it’s nothing. But it’s not nothing to you and it’s not nothing to me. You are being robbed of every high school milestone you have looked forward to your whole life long and it’s simply not fair.
There is so much more I could say here, so many words of encouragement and sympathy and love that I still want to tell you. But it all boils down to this:
I could not be prouder of you and the man you show me every day that you’re becoming. It’s just not possible. That level of proud doesn’t exist.
So, here’s the deal with the coronavirus, kiddos…
None of us really knows how this is going to go down over the next few weeks (months?). But I do know that whatever comes our way will take some major cooperation on all our parts. We’re a family, though, and that’s what we do; we work together.
I promise that we’ll make it through all this, my loves. I promise to try to control my temper and to understand when you can’t control yours. When we can’t celebrate special occasions the way we’d like, I promise to make the best of them. When Sundays come and we can’t go to to Mass, I promise that our faith will still remain our firm foundation. And, above all, I promise that your dad and I will continue to love you with our whole hearts and do everything in our power to keep you safe and happy and healthy. In a world that seems to be nothing but uncertainty after uncertainty, you can always count on that.
Love you always and forever, bunches and bunches, to the moon and back,
Other Letters to my Kids:
A Letter to My Kids: Charlottesville