Recently I watched a two year old play while I had a holiday visit with her parents on Zoom. Two years old: this is a child has lived her entire lifr through the pandemic. While some research studies are revealing developmental changes in many young children, especially in literacy and numeracy, because of the decreased social contact children, this child is thriving.
It is a credit to her parents and her family who determined that they would do everything possible so that she would thrive, and they have succeeded. I learned that this girl even plays through the fence, in a mask, at a distance with the child next door. She goes on walks with her parents and grandparents. She “makes” cookies and “reads” books. Of the things that make her different from pre-pandemic toddlers, the most notable is that one of the words she knows is “Zoom.” She also imitates everyone around her and wears a mask when she is out.
On those days when I am not thriving through the pandemic, I think about the ways I am different from that child. Of everything I come up with, one thing that seems especially important is that I have lived in a different time, while that child has not. On those days when I am not thriving, it is because I am missing some pre-pandemic pleasure, something I’d like that is not possible because of pandemic restrictions. Unlike someone who has never known a different world, on my worst days, I struggle to accept the present reality. I cannot accept that the pandemic defines my world and get on with living.
Of all the aspects of life that are different for this child as compared with an adult, perhaps the greatest is that her family is ensuring that there is routine and predictability in her world. I am fortunate to have had these for most of my adult life, but the pandemic has changed this too. Very regularly in the past two years, I have had to adapt to public health restrictions and their impact on my working and living situations. Working to achieve a routine in this context is almost impossible. Even if you have managed this much of the time, as I have, some days – even weeks or months – just don’t work.
After my short holiday visit, however, I think I can learn from a two year old. I will just put on my mask, reach out to the family and friends who support me, and on with my life.
(Note: This is a picture of my daughter when she was 2 years old.)