At this stage of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, most of us are at home with our families.
Whether we are sick or not, we are all affected by COVID-19, from healthcare workers to grocery clerks, kids who are home from school and parents who are working from home or are temporarily unemployed.
My family is part of the new-normal living in a world that has been surprised and terrified by this deadly disease. I have a daughter home from Lehigh University taking online classes for the remainder of the semester, a nephew who is an Abington Heights High School senior at home, a daughter in Washington, D.C. who is a professional mandated to work from home, a local daughter whose church job has been canceled until after Easter and a young granddaughter whose dance classes are temporarily online.
Thank goodness we all seem to be in good health right now. And thank goodness technology makes it possible for us to communicate with each other via text or video chat.
Still, the initial novelty of staying home and washing our hands constantly is wearing off. Restlessness and frustration are setting in, especially when we are faced with empty supermarket shelves for supplies like disinfectant that we are being told we need to stay healthy.
One of the best gifts we can give our children in this or any crisis is our example, teaching them how to weather a storm with strength and grace.
“Patience is a virtue,” my mother would always say to us growing up, because it was something her mother used to say in the World War II era.
In our United States 2020 culture, however, patience is not a word we’re used to hearing, or practicing. Americans are used to living in a fast lane where we seek instant gratification. We are pushed and we push ourselves constantly. We cram as much as possible into 24 little hours and do it all over again the next day in hope that we can do more, be more, and have more.
Now we have to stop, or at least slow down.
Yes, it is good to help our children find entertaining and creative ways to spend their new time at home with movies, games and crafts.
But we also should teach them how to wait, and maybe wait a little longer, for something we want right now. Is the world going to end if we can’t have hamburger or toilet paper today? If we have to postpone dinner out with friends or our kids have to postpone a play date? Not likely.
While we’re waiting and wanting, why not teach our kids not only to take care of themselves, but to take care of each other? Can we make a grocery run – physically or online – for an elderly neighbor whose children live in another state? Can we donate some of our canned goods to a local food pantry? Can we be online tutors for struggling students? Or old-fashioned snail-mail pen pals with nursing home residents who aren’t allowed visitors?
At the most, these kinds of deeds are welcomed acts of community service in a crisis. At the least, they help to pass the time away.
But they also help to build character in our children that will benefit them long after COVID-19 can only be found in our history books.