"This will be my son's generation’s 9/11. Their Challenger explosion. Their Kennedy assassination."
As a parent, I try to keep an even keel while remaining open and honest about the facts and complex emotions swirling around life’s events.
But I wasn’t quite sure how to explain to my 13-year-old son what was happening. Why I was dead serious about improving hand-washing techniques. Or why we would be rationing toilet paper. Or why school had been converted to a remote learning format.
The best I could do was to tell him that this was serious; that things would be changing. So much so that, when he is older, he will look back and reminisce with his friends, or tell his kids about The Coronovirus. What it had been like Before. And then how life had changed After. This will be his generation’s 9/11. Their Challenger explosion. Their Kennedy assassination. That thing that felt like it happened out of the blue and reorganized everyone in some shared, unspoken way.
Today, I asked my son how he feels about the virus and everything that has happened so far. He says it feels like something that is happening elsewhere. To senior citizens. To folks with health issues. To others.
I am torn. I want to make sure he understands that this isn’t really happening elsewhere. It’s happening everywhere, and we are in the early days of living the impact. None of us will come out unscathed. We can’t yet know whether the personal losses and pain will be economic, physical, spiritual or emotional. Or maybe all of those things.
Thankfully, innovation and community-based connections are on the upswing, which helps.
For the moment, I am grateful that my son feels safe harbor. Innocence is in such short supply these days.
He and I will keep talking. And hopefully those conversations will preserve his sense of safety, while inspiring the resourcefulness, wisdom and resilience he’ll need to face the unknowns of the road ahead.
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