"Look at how a single candle can both define and defy darkness." Anne Frank penned this in times much darker than we find ourselves now. Students are confined to their homes with social world’s turned upside-down, learning largely from videos and paperwork and no defined date of normalcy. Yet, they seem to be able to see the light in the situation. Our children’s education in this time is more than traditional textbooks, small groups, etc. It is now greatly interwoven with our families’ solidarity and response to the times we find ourselves in.
We cannot forget our children’s lives and livelihoods are shaken up. Yet, they are the ones uncomplicatedly flexible. Somehow, funneling in the tragedies, streamlined learning, and lack of access to their own friends, relationships, outlets, and they still maintain a sense of hope and security. The old stories we told relaying they should thankful with a bit of bread and a bit of a roof, seemingly resonated. It is tempting to try to make them understand the depths of angst we feel, but our children’s responsibilities were never the same as ours. We are all rising to the complexities faced and our kids are rising too. They may just need a little guidance to rise higher.
An article from the Child Mind Institute titled Supporting Kids During the Coronavirus by Rae Jacobsen has simple ideas we can use and model. Some of the things shared are: Bits of structure, creativity/flexibility, taking moments to work through stress, staying in touch socially in viable ways, shining light on the positives (any shred of them), and conversations about how we feel. I am not suggesting Utopia, but I am suggesting more intention to myself and others as we light up every cracked infrastructure of our families lives and every crevice of possibility. We were made to be in relationship with one another. It may look different for our foreseeable future but it does not need to be crushed along with who we were months ago. Our new focus on our families will show our children a complete and very real education on creating bright lives in dark times.
Maasai warriors, though fierce, tasked with many devastations in the Kenyan and Tanzanian landscape, and even those without their own children, greet one another with "Kasserian Ingera," or "How are the children?" To which the reply is "The children are well." As you can imagine, this is broader in meaning and implies that the people then are well. Our lives have been shaken up, become full of fear, and without the normalcy we so crave. What if we too turned to each other, face-to-face in our homes, six feet apart outside of them and asked, "How are the children?" I hope our replies can echo "The children are well."
Kira Hawkins served as an educator for ten years, teaching children in Texas, Zambia, and remotely, in China, now working with schools in 11 states. Kira’s intent is not to belittle the depth of shock or pain some have felt financially, emotionally, socially, or physically, but to advocate for hope when many things we read and see, as of late, are void of light. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.