I just completed the enrollment form signing Charlie up for a full time online learning program for the coming school year. I was struck with a massive wave of emotion including panic and deep sadness. My chest feels tight and I felt a rush of grief for all that he is currently and will miss out on.
Charlie attends an amazing school and I am in no way concerned about the richness or the rigor of the curriculum that they will inevitably bring to our child.
I am sad because my child is an only child. He has not had any interaction with other children his or any age since March and it could be a very long while before this is possible for him.
Charlie has always had spirited enthusiasm for school. Charlie is the kid who wants to be the first to arrive and the last to leave. He enjoys making others laugh and being kind and helpful to others in the classroom. I fear that he will disconnect from this love of learning and positive emotional attachment he has towards school.
In March when they transitioned to distance learning he had already had 9 months of establishing a relationship with his teacher and classmates. This year he will undoubtedly have new teachers that he doesn’t get to meet and establish trust and comfort in knowing how much they truly care. I believe strong that a child learns nothing from you until they know how much you truly care.
It is very difficult to convey micro expressions of connection, kindness, or love through technology. As a therapist I have struggled with this in my work as well. Body language is a large part of communication that gets lost in translation through technology.
I fear that Charlie will become bored, uninterested, unnoticed, and have lingering feelings of invisibility. Ultimately disconnecting him from relationships with teachers and other students.
I have asked myself over and over if there is another option for us. And unfortunately the answer is no. There is no other choice we can or would make during this time.
My husband and Charlie’s father is among the most vulnerable if he were to contract this virus. He has a suppressed immune system after receiving a kidney transplant 15 years ago. Charlie too is vulnerable with his asthma and history of respiratory infections. So NO we have no other option despite there being alternative choices.
I am doing my best to be a present and engaged parent but it’s so hard right now when every role we play bleeds into the next. There are no boundaries anymore of where one role begins and another ends.
So I admit he has more screen time than I’d prefer. He spends more time left on his own than I prefer. I have justified it saying “he’s playing roblox with a friend” or “he needs a break from us too” or “there are only so many other options in our quarantine life for being entertained or engaged.” I’ve watched him retreat into the iPad more and more as his preferred method of coping. As I therapist I know too well that escapism is not the coping technique I want to teach my child. So, I judge him and then I judge myself. I question his decisions then I question mine. So much doubt and uncertainly. So much emotional unrest in these uncomfortable and seemingly endless times.
This sucks and it’s hard! So many unknowns. I work so hard to remain optimistic, to reframe and look for the opportunities or the blessings in disguise, however I’m having a really hard time with this one. I guess this is where faith comes in. Believing that there is a reason or future positive circumstances that I have no knowledge of that will be born out of this path. It’s hard to remain steadfast in our faith when we can’t make sense of any of it in the moment.
I know that there are so many people out there struggling with similar or even worse realities. I felt like sharing tonight because I needed a sense of connectedness with others during this disconnected time.
I hope that my thoughts bring you comfort in knowing that you are not alone. We are all struggling in one form or another. We are all in this together despite our necessary distance during this time.
Praying for health, peace and happiness for all.