The feel of his skin under my fingertips is cool, unbroken, and rugged. It feels so different from the soft skin of a newborn that I remember, yet all the while has a familiarity to it. His shoulders are now broad. His nose is more defined and chiseled. The most noticeable change is that the small bounding person who lights up a room with their smile is now stoic and withdrawn. Too heavy for me to pick up and spin away the sadness.
I asked, more like begged, “Is everything ok?”
I already know the answer because I am the mom and know that nothing has been okay for over a year. Torn from the halls of school and isolated inside our protected walls for too long, all of my children are feeling the weight of the pandemic. But something has struck me about the far away look plastering my oldest’s face as of late. We try to explain that this is for their own good, our health, and for the community’s protection. That was the truth and still is, but is the cost too high?
At the mark of the year, I find my outgoing, straight A student who has everything going for them, recluse and lost. I search their face for a clue about what was going on.
“Are you sad?” No.
“Are you mad?” No.
“Are you depressed” No.
“Are you indifferent?” Yes.
Indifference. The state of neither being nor not being. Just nowhere. That is where we are and where those around us seem to fall. As their mother, I am a ship without an ore that is waiting for the hurricane to hit. I bail out the holes, but ultimately, I don’t know how to fix the boat. As the voyage wears on, I am fearful that they will be swept away and I will be without the means to save them. The waves continue to wash over the bough.
They text while I am at work and explain that they need their online community. That video games are their only human interaction. They are not addicted, instead, just enjoy talking with people. I thank them for talking and acknowledge our misstep. We promise to work towards a resolution. I pray that our lines of communication will lead us towards fair seas. I am grateful, scared, and so sad for all we have endured.
The pandemic has taken so much from our lives, but it cannot take away our ability to innovate and pivot. If we continue to push to be the same people, the same society we were prior to its wake, we will not survive, nor will our children or grandparents. It is time to innovate. I cannot be the crazy anti-screen time parent I was prior to Covid. I was pretty sure I had it all figured out. Games were the downfall of our children. Well, I was wrong. I am incredibly grateful for the community that we have forged through games and online communities. It is time to pivot friends. We need to reimagine socialization and education for our children. We need to address these needs not only for privileged communities but also for those who are on the fringes.
There are pivotal moments in history when generations turn over. When people will never remember the before. The most recent example being September 11th. We have a generation that is marked by who remembers the event occurring and those who cannot. Here we are again, at a mark in time that will be in reference books for generations. It’s time to take action in the best interest of our children. We need to stop forcing the “before” and start living in the “after.” Tell me friends, how are you pivoting today?