Raising Kids Among Zombies
There are always threats that you fear will harm your kids- and as they age, the threats go from the purely physical kind to the physical AND emotional kind. When they're growing in a uterus (yours or somebody else's), you worry they might stop growing, that their little heart might stop its comforting beat. At delivery, there are too many ways that their body can miss a safe transition. In infancy, it's SIDS, in toddlerhood it's...everything (the dumb is big like their heads). As they get older, the dangers they face continue to be the big, bad villains like car crashes, stranger danger, and illness, but they're also friends excluding them, them not liking themselves, them not finding peace and wholeness and safety in their skin, their family, their community.
The physical threats during COVID have made us all more twitchy and it feels like there are zombies everywhere. Now, when the kids are riding their bikes, they have to be aware of their surroundings so that they don't pull out in front of a car or run into a wall, AND they have to stay away from all people because it can only be assumed that all people have COVID and that all people are trying to breathe their sick right into my kids (forever open, talking) mouths. Human interaction means threat to kids in additional ways now. Of course, we also moved to a brand-new place where EVERYONE is a stranger, so the world feels a little less safe in that regard, even as my kids are of the age that they want more independence to explore.
When they're little, we (fool ourselves into thinking we) can protect them, but as they grow and their worlds enlarge, we know they'll be facing more zombies, and we just have to hope we prepared them for the apocalpyse.
I have no answers, I've just been thinking about how it's a balance of wisdom and caution against neuroses and stifling hyper-vigilance. For kids to grow and thrive as they age, they need to be trusted in order to trust themselves. They need freedom to explore, to learn, to fail, to rebound. They need support and love, but they also need to learn how to love themselves. It's possible to over-parent, and I think we've been doing some of that in an attempt to control this out of control world. It's a complicated bag, and right now, when you reach in, there are even more mouse traps than usual. The emotional weight of these two years of change and fear and shrinking/swelling worlds has crushed all of us. We're not the same people we used to be. And for kids who are just figuring out who they are in the first place, it's especially confusing and terrifying.
I'm wishing us all patience with each other today. Grace. Empathy. And baby steps toward peace.
Meanwhile, double tap.