Summer of COVID (And Other Things)
I initially started writing this post with the intention of continuing to write about ways to cope and connect through the “Summer of COVID,” and we can get to that, but there’s much more than that going on right now, isn’t there?
I am not ashamed to say that my quarantine entertainment recommendations come from my students. One of the benefits of working with middle school students is that they always know what’s interesting¸ trending, and up and coming. Upon their recommendation, I binged Outer Banks on Netflix and am considering buying Animal Crossing to play on those rainy summer days. Most recently, after more than a few students told me it was a must see, I started watching All American. The story is about a student from South Crenshaw in L.A. who goes to play football at Beverly Hills High. It’s inspired by a true story, and I’ve always been a sucker for CW’s high school drama shows, so I was instantly hooked. By Episode 3, I had tears in my eyes as I watched two of the main characters, both young men of color, slammed onto the sidewalk as they were arrested. One of the boys asked the police officer who pulled him over why they were being stopped, and it escalated from there. Later in the episode, Jordan’s dad said that he was hoping by moving his son to Beverly Hills and out of Crenshaw that he would have had more time before he had to have “the talk” with his son about police interactions.
As I watched, I instantly thought of the students who recommended this show: students who identify as white and black, students who identify as boys and girls, students who have all watched this episode. I wondered: Have they talked about this with anyone? Do they talk to each other about the show? Would they even know where to start to talk about it? Has anyone talked with them about George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor?
I might have thought at one point that our students aren’t seeing these issues, but they are. They are so much more active on technology than we are, and with Snapchat and Buzzfeed covering these stories, they know. Are we as adults failing them because we are so focused on Distance Learning and Coronavirus that we forget about current events, that we forget about the reality of what they see and take in? These situations that are happening right now in America might be more important and more defining than COVID-19 and the “Summer of COVID,” but how do we talk about it?
As a white woman, I wasn’t brought up discussing race, and as an adult I continue to have the opportunity to ignore conversations about race. In my home now, we have these hard conversations. It isn’t easy, but it is necessary. Truthfully, for a moment, I had the thought about not bringing up George Floyd to my stepson. Why? Because it is so disheartening to have the same conversation week after week, but we had the conversation anyway. Why? Because George Floyd’s life matters.
If you, like me, identify as white and are thinking about starting these conversations in your home, maybe this summer is a time to start. Here are some great resources to check out: Anti-racism resources for white people.
If you identify as anything else, know that I hold space for you and your children to come to me and share your experiences, along with telling me what you need. I stand as an ally with you and as an advocate for your student, ready to listen and do my best to support your family during these times and future times.
So, as I began, the Summer of COVID is upon us, and we are ready to start our break. Despite current events, are you feeling relieved about the stress of Distance Learning disappearing? Are you wondering what you will do with your children for those extra hours? Maybe you’re somewhere in between. What does this summer mean for us, exactly? Will there be limited travel, less time at camps or at the pools? Things could start one way and change (for better or worse) as we move on.
Remember that as we remain confused about what this all looks like, the confusion trickles down to our children. Remember that they are still grieving. Remember that connection and coping are still important.
If you’re looking to continue to cope and connect with everything going on right now and throughout the summer, try these tips:
- Connect: Stay connected to each other regardless of your family plans by trying one (or all) of these techniques.
- Set up a family game or family movie night and stick to it. To keep it fair, each family member writes one suggestion onto a piece of paper. Crumple the papers and put them in a jar; each family night, pull out one and play that game or watch that movie. Repeat until there aren’t any more left.
- Have hard conversations. Whatever those hard conversations are for you and your family, use this time together to go deeper together and talk. Listen, empathize, and give age appropriate answers when you can.
- Set aside 20-30 minutes of play time that you let your child completely lead. Whether they are young and pretend play or older and want you to learn a video game they like, let it be their time. No complaints! Go along with the silly accent they want you to use or the sixteenth death you had in Fortnite. Enjoy the time together.
- Cope: These are hard times, for all families. Keep teaching your young person how to cope with the struggles that come up for them using these strategies.
- Infinity Breathing: Have your child draw an infinity sign on a piece of paper (or print one out). As they trace the infinity sign slowly, they match their breathing to the direction their finger moves. As they trace up, they breathe in, and as they trace down, they breathe out.
- Put your feet on the grass. Yes, take off your shoes! Go outside and run around your yard or dig in your garden barefoot. Play tag, plant flowers, lie on a tapestry and read.
I hope you enjoy your summer, and that you and yours stay safe during these uncertain times. I also hope that you will, through happenstance or intent, seize opportunities to model empathy, connecting, coping, and growth. Your children deserve nothing less.
Courtney Hart, LCSW-C