A couple weeks ago, I got a call from the clinic at my son’s school. The school nurse wanted to let me know that my son, P, had a cough, and he’d been sent to the clinic to see if they could get it to calm down. She wanted to know if my son had any allergies, et cetera that could be causing it.
My son does have some allergies, and they do result in a cough, so I didn’t think it was a big deal but said I would be along to pick P up from school since he couldn’t stay in with the cough. P had some Benadryl, drank some honey tea, and we waited. And waited. And waited… the cough persisted. It persisted all through Monday, into Tuesday, and I dropped him off at my ex’s house instead of at school Wednesday morning. Thursday, my ex let me know the cough was still going strong, and I sent a message to the family practice we go to. On Friday, P and I sat down for a virtual consultation with one of the doctors, who listened to the cough and told me she would like my son to have a COVID-19 test.
Talk about things no parent wants to hear, right?!
Naturally, P did not want a swab up his nose. He was concerned it might hurt (I was concerned it might hurt, but don’t tell him that), and he was scared of the possibility of having COVID. What kid wouldn’t be? To make it worse, my boyfriend, Dave, checked into a hotel until the test result came back — he hadn’t seen P since Tuesday, but the math dictated that if he put himself into quarantine then, he’d be out in time for Christmas with his kids if P tested positive. I think P potentially blamed himself for that, too. I don’t have to tell any other parents that it kills to see your kid having anxiety over something like this — something that’s completely out of anyone’s control.
There’s a lot of talk around raising resilient kids — kids that seem so thrive even when circumstances are difficult and when things don’t go their way. We want our kids to say “I’ll try it!” even if they might fail. We want them to grow up and have positive attitudes and feel as though no challenge is ultimately insurmountable.
P is usually a remarkably resilient kid. He’s naturally social, cheerful, and takes most things like a grain of salt. There are a few areas where he’s not so resilient, of course: he’ll get down on himself if he doesn’t understand his homework right away, and he’ll lament that he’s worse than his friends at the video games they play. We once spent a whole evening trying to figure out what sport P wanted to try so he could practice running, after he came home and complained he was slower than all his classmates while running a race in gym class. That was my kid’s solution to not being good at running: sign up for a sport so he could get good at running. How many kids are that solution-oriented?
2020 has not been a year to reward resilience. It seems like the entire year has consisted of one bad thing after another. I became a “remote employee” when my office closed permanently, P spent a few months as a “remote student” when schools closed in the spring, events were cancelled or postponed, travel was banned, and the news became more and more depressing every day. A few bright spots did occur in the late-summer lull in virus numbers, but they’ve been overshadowed by the late-fall surge and return to curfews, closings, and a never-ending cycle of bad news on the TV.
For P, this COVID-19 scare was the final straw. After going back to being a “remote student” and not being in the classroom with his friends for almost two weeks, and after going and getting the nasal swab, P had a meltdown and refused to do a school assignment. He didn’t want to read a book, he didn’t want to summarize the book, and he didn’t want to present a book summary. He wanted to be left alone to play Minecraft on his tablet. There was yelling. He cried. I cried. It was not my proudest parenting moment.
The truth is, we only have so much resilience. We can only survive under stress for so long. And the personal and nationwide effects of COVID-19 hasn’t been the only thing stressful in 2020: American politics, anyone? Trump was impeached this year. This year! I’m convinced it happened in 2019, that’s how long 2020 has been. I don’t even want to talk about the stress surrounding the election itself. Also, COVID-19 crashed the stock market. The entire west coast of the USA caught on fire. Prince Harry and Meaghan quit the royal family. The Black Lives Matter protests/riots. The Beirut port explosion. Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away and was rush-job replaced by Amy Coney Barrett. The Capital Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle. Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and Eddie Van Halen all died this year. Murder hornets! Whatever happened to the murder hornets, anyway?!
I’d like to announce that The Bank of Resilience is closed for business. I’m out of it, P is out of it, I imagine most people are simply out of resilience. There’s none left, the supply has dried up, any checks written after today’s date will bounce if cashed.
There are 12 days left in 2020. At this point, I think a lot of people are simply counting down those 12 days. We’ll be happy just to make it to 2021. Who knows if it’ll be any better… but at least it won’t be 2020.