Because of the virus… it’s all dot-dot-dot for kids

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Illustration: Karl Speller

“When you bend down and look at it from a child’s perspective, their world has duck dived, been pulled apart and back again, and yet they have coped remarkably,” writes “Mummy” columnist KATE MEIKLE

LET’S hear it for the kids. 

Kate Meikle.

They have been nothing but resilient this year. Resilience is the buzzword of all the parenting books and blogs these days, but there’s nothing like living through a pandemic to really bring it out in our little people. 

Through the challenge of their summer holidays blighted by the smoke and threat of bushfires to the downright difficulty of homeschooling, when you bend down and look at it from a child’s perspective, their world has duck dived, been pulled apart and back again, and yet they have coped remarkably. 

Every day since mid-March they hear the words “because of the virus…  dot dot dot”.
The dots have ranged from the very painful and upsetting news of –  “Because of the virus we can’t go to play in the park / see friends / hug anyone / go to the shops / go anywhere” to today’s reality, which I know is a much more generous set of rules and a hell of a lot better than the kids in Victoria are experiencing. 

But there are still a share of disappointments for kids on a daily basis and implications to what they look forward to and expect will happen in their lives because that is the way it’s always been for them. 

Because of the virus we can’t walk into school to drop you off.   

Because of the virus you can’t visit your grandad in Sydney or your great-grandad in Adelaide. 

Because of the virus mummy can’t volunteer in the classroom and help the kindy students learn to read, or watch your Book Week dress-up parade at the school. 

Because of the virus no mucking around at the shopping centre and you must stay away from people.  

Because of the virus your cousins won’t be coming for Christmas this year… ouch, that one hurts a lot.  

They say that the way we have dealt emotionally with the pandemic is similar to the stages of grief, which includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression and that gold-star stage of acceptance (has anyone reached there yet?).

While I admit to having felt all of these emotions this year, these days I find that bargaining seems to visit me most often and mainly when it comes to the kids. 

I hear myself saying things such as: “So long as the kids can still do most of the things they usually do, so long as they can still have play dates, still go to school, still enjoy birthday parties and playgrounds…. I’d trade that for… dot dot dot”. 

I know there’s no way I can bargain my way out of this reality, but I can’t seem to help it when it comes to the children. We want our kids to get through this time as safely and happily as they can. We want to shield them from as much of the disappointment this year has thrown at us as possible.  

The biggest bargaining will come for us when Christmas is in our sights. I’ve heard Melburnians say: “If we get through this lockdown and do the right thing, we can have a good Christmas”. 

I’m starting to wonder what Christmas would be like for the kids this year and what I will need to do to manage, plan and support them as we approach the time that my children love the most. 

This week, I received an email from the company that took our kids’ Santa photo at the shopping centre in December. They were asking me to participate in a survey as to whether or not I would consider having a non-contact visit to Santa this year. 

It broke my heart a little, thinking of yet another small business and casual staffers who would have been assured of a great income stream this December, all trying their best to pivot their business and keep their staff. I feel for them coming up with some sort of covid-safe experience in which Santa is a safe 1.5 metres away from the children, but the magic and joy of a photo with Santa is still present for the children. Good luck to them. 

My first reaction was why bother with a photo? But then explaining to the kids that Santa photos were cancelled this year “because of the virus” breaks my heart just a little more. 

Thankfully, their little tanks of resilience aren’t filled up just yet.  

 

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Kate Meikle
Kate Meikle is a staff reporter for "CityNews"

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