From the mouths of babes

19 school days later and things are starting to unravel around here.

When school was first cancelled on March 13, my kids were excited. I am quite certain most kids were thrilled to receive the school is closed text. Without any snow days this winter, we were annoyed school had not been called off. So even amidst the frightening uncertainty surrounding us, the announcement of several days off were welcomed with shouts of joy,

We tried out some academic-y stuff for the first two weeks. And they actually seemed to enjoy themselves sitting around our kitchen table writing and drawing and looking at all of the world’s countries on a globe. OK, my teenager was not having any of this school time fun really, but he would join us each time we played a board game. And we have been playing A LOT of board games.

We went for morning walks, played outside, made up games, listened to music, made meals together, played academic games on the computer, and even started to read a chapter book aloud together. And to top it all off, all three of my boys were getting along. Naturally, there was some brotherly arguments, but no full-out brawls…yet.

Without me really noticing, all of this “fun” began fizzling away. Before each of our few activities, complaints became louder and louder, not so much in words but in attitude and enthusiasm. I became exhausted. So did they. Even though we really weren’t physically doing much, sure we’ve been staying active, but it isn’t like we are training for a marathon. Why were we now, just a few weeks later, so exhausted?

I read about how this situation we are all in could affect kids. I decided laying off on the school stuff would be a good a idea so we just did a few things here and there. I focused more on them getting outside and doing something creative than completing any sort of specific activity. But I truly didn’t think I would see any affects of this pandemic on my kids. Especially not my youngest. How in the world does he even know what is going on? He doesn’t. He can’t. They are safe and sound and enjoying their time at home. They’ll be fine.

I promised myself to be aware how this pandemic could affect them, and I told myself I would show some grace to them and to myself. But surely there would be no serious issues with their behavior and mental well being. Especially not my youngest.

I was wrong.

This week every little thing has set him off into end of the world (maybe a poor choice of words?) meltdowns. Crying and complaining and even physical retaliation when he doesn’t like the answer to something, aka the word ‘no’.

Because it is “Spring Break” I opted for no academic talk this week, i.e you must read for 30 minutes before playing a video games. Bed times were extended by a half hour, and we are just chilling with no plans or fun ideas to try out. Just relaxing. So, when the tantrums got worse I was surprised. The kid can do almost anything he wants this week, what is he so upset about?

Today was even more amplified. He cried for five minutes straight because I cut up his pancakes instead of “leaving them big” at breakfast. My parents came over to drop off Easter gifts on our porch. I kept it a surprise, so when they pulled in, he ran to the garage to greet them at the door. I had to stop him. This did not sit well with him because then he threw another fit about not getting the present he wanted from the Easter Bunny. The crying and screaming carried on throughout the day each one a bit worse than the one before.

So, I decided we would go back to an earlier bed time. As I was tucking him in, he asked a strange question, “When does big table get finished?” At first I thought he misspoke and meant the office, one of the bedrooms we are turning into well, an office.

“What table?” I asked just to make sure my thinking was on the right track.

Exasperated he answered, “The table in the kitchen because we can’t go to school.”

Ohhhhh… light bulb. I had moved the kitchen table out from against the wall a few weeks ago when school was cancelled to give us more space to work. But before I could answer he said, “This is taking 200 days! We can’t go to any other houses?”

I struggled to answer without crying, but managed a, “No, we can’t. We are trying to stay healthy and keep others healthy too.”

My beautiful, brilliant five year old then said something that left me dumbstruck.

“This hurts my feelings. Not being able to go anywhere. It hurts my feelings.”

I didn’t think he understood, had any sort of inkling of what was going on around him. This kid usually loves to just stay home and play and chill out. I honestly thought he would be the one I would not have to worry about. I was absolutely mistaken.

This whole thing hurts my feelings too, little man. I can’t think of a better way to put it.

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