We all know this year has been rough. We’re in the middle of a what feels like neverending pandemic. Jobs have been lost, schools are closed, businesses are closed, restaurants are closed. Everything is a mess. We try to go about our lives as normal, but this isn’t normal. Among everything that’s happened, our kids were too ripped from their schools, friends, and everything they knew.
March 13th. That was the day. That was my kids last day of school. They were sent home like any other day with the impression that they’d have an extended Spring Break. “See you in 2 weeks.” Those 2 weeks turned into the rest of the year, then that turned into the beginning of this year, which turned into probably not going back at all this year (it’s still up in the air, but not looking likely). They left thinking they’d be back and they weren’t. No goodbyes to their teachers or friends. They were ripped from everything they knew and thrown into learning how to distance learn. Seeing friends only on a computer screen. Not being able to leave their house. No birthday parties, no sleepovers, no playdates. Just the new ‘normal’ for nearly a year now.
I didn’t worry about my kids at first. I knew we’d get back to normal eventually and everything would be fine. School would resume and they could see all their friends. Sleepovers and playdates would be back on. That’s not what happened though. My social butterfly, the girl that the school would tell me needed to stop talking so much, stopped talking. She’s changed. She’s 9 and she doesn’t want to talk to anyone anymore. She wants to see her friends. She wants to play with her friends and go to school. My son, the introverted teen however is in heaven. He doesn’t have to go to school and is killing distance learning with the best grades we’ve seen in years.
To distract themselves from everything going on and their new ‘normal,’ they’ve started playing video games a lot more. I wasn’t thrilled with it at first, but what else is there to do? We can’t go anywhere or do anything. I’ve been watching them and video games are the best thing to happen to them in the last year. They are at their happiest when they’re playing video games. Why? Because they’ve made friends. There’s kids all over the world that are in the same place. Ripped from friends and schools. They have friends they can talk to and play with while social distancing. My son has made friends from all over. Many of them all play together in a group almost everyday. My daughter is playing with friends from school and making new friends as well.
The happiest I get to see them these days is when they play with friends. They don’t play all day everyday, but I won’t stop them when they want to play. This is their new ‘normal.’ They need to be interacting with people and being kids. Times are so different right now. If playing video games is how they keep their mental health in check, then so be it. They will get back to the days of running around on the playground, having sleepovers, and playdates. For now, we will do the best we can to make life as normal as possible.
I’m not going to stop my kids from being kids the best way they know how right now. If playing video games makes them happy and gives them interaction with other kids, so be it. Friends moved away to another town and some to another state. They never got to say goodbye. They may never see them again. Kids aren’t used to things like that. I worry about my kids mental health. I worry about them going back to school and what that may look like. I worry all the time, but when they’re playing video games, chatting with friends, and happy, I don’t have to worry anymore. So for now we’ll play video games. We’ll make the best of this situation and we’ll worry about everything else later if we need to.