Finding the humour in 2020
We are on the brink of a very tough winter. That reality is getting more and more real with every shorter and colder day, every alarming news broadcast, and every new change. Our hearts break for those who are losing loved ones. For those lucky enough to not be personally impacted, there are still major battles happening. With the turn in weather and curve, I can feel my own motivation, patience and mental well-being turn, too.
It can be extra daunting for parents of young children, who often don’t have a choice but to be the rock. I don’t have an answer for making that easier. All I know is that the days where I have a good laugh are notably better than the ones without. So here is an attempt at giving you a little laugh at my family’s expense – perhaps you’ll recognize some of this in your own crew.
Finding the Humour #1: We cracked down hard on chores only to realize we don’t have the energy to enforce them. Sometime this year, we realized our kids really weren’t pitching in all that much. So we had some family meetings and outlined the mandatory chores they need to be doing, set up a tracking system, and even added some fun ‘money-makers’ they could do each day to earn a little money if chores are done. The system turned out awesome and should be super easy to implement. Except…..some days I am too exhausted to walk all the way downstairs and check if the laundry got sorted by our oldest son. Our other son who is supposed to clear the table each night often gets a free pass because we make lazy dinners that don’t require serving dishes. I don’t even really know what my daughter’s chores are so she’s probably not performing that well (yes, that’s right, they’re listed on the board all the way upstairs, so don’t pretend you’d go up and read them). I’m partly joking, we really are trying to make the effort (or I should say the seven-year-old is making the effort to get money-maker cash). But I’m also partly serious that I can’t hit those stairs one more time today.
FtH #2: Our daughter chose this year to act out after three years of being insanely easy-going. So this might be directly correlated to Covid or directly correlated to having a baby brother who is stealing the cute thunder or both. But our easy-going, happy, friendly three-year-old chose this year to rebel aggressively against us, her brothers, her child care community and generally-speaking, society. In a two-week period we received notices from our child care centre that she had dumped a glass of milk on a friend, thrown another classmate’s shoe over the fence of their outdoor play area, and – I can hardly bear to put this in writing – bit another child on the back. Thank goodness for the amazing Director and teachers at our centre who have helped us navigate this trying time. No thank you at all to our daughter for adding yet another reason to lie awake through the long, dark, anxious nights of Covid winter.
FtH #3: Our kids could not be happier for Covid’s official uniform of loungewear. I mean, we were never an overly fashionable family anyways, but generally we each had a few flattering pieces and tried to wear real pants. Those days are gone, friends. After lockdown in March, our boys discovered ‘joggers’ which served as their gateway to full-out sweat suits and track suits (preferably in at least one size too large for them). With a return to school we found huddles of other sweat-pant-adorning children who offered all the peer affirmation needed to finally discard any ties to a past of sharp button-up shirts and pants made of something other than fleece. Our one-year-old is our last hope at fashion in this family, but really – who has the energy to get all the way upstairs to pick him out a nice outfit?
FtH #4: We don’t even really want to do all the things that we can’t. We are pretty social and it’s taken a huge hit to our mental state to have to close down so much of the things we love. Hanging with good friends, watching our children enjoy their extended family, doing lots of activities with our kids’ friends. But there’s a whole whackload of things that we are downright happy to be missing right now, too. A huge line-up of extra-curriculars (who knew having four kids would make your schedule full?), work events, lots of obligatory things. But part of the craziness of a pandemic world is that you don’t get the choice to say yes or no to things, they just aren’t available. Suddenly I “can’t believe” we won’t be able to attend that gem tradeshow that my five-year-old raves about, and I’m crushed. In two years from now when we’re on the way to said tradeshow, I’ll be reminiscing about the days of Covid when we instead made hot chocolate and watched one of the four spin-offs to the sequel of Frozen featuring Olaf’s back story.
FtH #5: Our kids are much better at handling a pandemic than we are. Where we felt utter shock and loss at having schools, child care and workplaces closed, the kids just took everything in stride. Where we both crave and hate the news reports, the kids just want us to give a summary of whether the ice cream shop is open or closed. Where we sadly reflect about the loved ones we won’t see for a while, the kids ask us if we can wrestle in the basement. Again. For the 7th time today. And NO we can’t because we haven’t done our chores yet….well, ok, maybe one more wrestle. It’s much easier to go downstairs to the basement than upstairs these days anyway.
Melissa lives in Calgary and is the Director of Brand Strategy for Kids & Company. Her vision of what she would be like as a mom was shattered years ago when she discovered nothing ever goes as planned for parents, but laughter and community sees you through. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.