Kids missing out?

I was listening to the radio the other day as I was driving away from dropping off my first grader (he’s 6) and my third grader (he’s 8) and there was a news report about how parents believe kiddos are missing out on some essential experiences at school in light of the pandemic and safety measures. Many of you know that we live in Miami-Dade county in Florida, where the school board has directly defied the governor’s executive order and faces the possibility of sanctions. Our mask mandate only allows a parent to opt out with a doctor’s note and I’m not aware of anyone who has such a note.

Anyway, in light of the fact that we’ve been in the midst of a surge of positive covid cases likely due to the delta variant and I’ve been immunocompromised for over four (4) years, we’re being super careful. We’ve had to take a step back in the last two months or so with activity outside our home and small bubble. Our household has many and varied risk factors in addition to my lack of an immune system and we take as many precautions as possible.

But back to the kiddos. When I heard the news report that included comments from parents about kiddos missing something essential due to the safety measures under discussion right now, it made me pause. I think it is good to always be evaluating decisions or positions and to listen to those with another point of view. My husband and I both try to make decisions logically and based on facts rather than emotion, which can be difficult in our emotionally charged times.

It seems to me that most of the arguments/positions against masking and social distancing at school has to do with affirming parental decision-making and ensuring access to social interaction for children. There do seem to be some academic concerns, but I know that we won’t know the impact academically for some time. Academically, my kiddos aren’t suffering any significant deficits and I don’t anticipate any, although we have sought out supplemental aids like tutoring to ensure that our 1st grader is where he should be. Socially, though, things are different from where they were pre-pandemic. Play dates in person, for example, are just not a reasonable possibility for my boys. They aren’t playing on any teams right now or involved with any clubs outside of school.

So, are they missing something? Will we look back on this time and be sad about what they’ve missed? Will we see damage that kiddos won’t recover from? But are these even fair questions?

As many of you know, I was homeschooled until I entered public high school at thirteen (13). Because I didn’t have the same public school experiences in elementary and middle school, a lot of the arguments or laments about what hasn’t happened for kiddos in lower schools during the pandemic don’t resonate with me as much since I didn’t have those experiences to begin with and haven’t suffered for the lack. Elliot was educated outside of the US until the end of middle school and his experiences are also different from what our children are experiencing. We often look at each other quite bemused over what our children experience.

I wonder …

How much will it really matter for most of our kids if they are wearing masks?

How much will it really matter for most of our kids if they need to be limited in how close they are to other people?

How much will it really matter for most of our kids if they need to have structured times of washing their hands or helping to sanitize the world around them?

How much will it really matter for most of our kids if they don’t play group sports for a bit?

I’m not being facetious here, I’m really wondering how much these temporary measures really will cause lasting damage or impact on most of the kiddos. I’m not talking about those special needs kiddos who need routine to thrive or those who suffer from asthma and need different accommodations, I’m talking about the vast majority of children who are resilient, who adjust to so much with ease, who don’t struggle for long with things that change, even dramatic changes.

I’m the last person to argue that we should simply blindly follow rules and anyone who interferes with my ability to make decisions for my children are met with some pretty stubborn resistance since that’s my responsibility. But when I’m asked to change my behavior or the behavior of my family for the public good that isn’t so onerous that it causes issues or difficulty, then I see the value in that because that’s the price of living in community with others. I see the value in teaching my kiddos that we do make adjustments for the good of others; we wear masks to protect our friends is the message that our children received in school last year.

My kids assimilated this message.

They haven’t struggled with the concept that we wear masks and we wash our hands and we stand back from people because that protects others. This message was reinforced at home and at school last year. Despite the fact that we’re in Florida (it’s pretty darn hot all the time) and my kids are full of energy and the sweat is often dripping down their faces, they wear their masks.

And so, I’m still left with this question — what issues will they really face after this season of social distancing and masking and limiting activities that put them and others in danger? I just think we have no idea and to blindly assert that anyone knows the outcome (good, bad or indifferent) is a premature assumption.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Kids missing out?

  1. I agree with you 💯! Also immunocompromsied and even with mine being old enough to be vaccinated, her little stepbrother has asthma and is 6, so no vaccine. My daughter also had no issue adjusting and is usually careful. However, I do have to admit after almost the full school year last year, she developed an eating disorder, which I believe was fueled by allowing too much time on TikTok where bad coping skills are glorified in place of in person socialization. Thankfully, just as this happened, we got the vaccine and I felt good about sending her back in person, which seems to have fixed everything. She is even playing volleyball, but she knows she wears a mask no matter what or who isn’t.

    Here’s another perspective I had. My 7th grade daughter just had her first boyfriend. Suddenly it broke my heart thinking of kids at the age of starting to date, but not being able to have that first kiss, or hold hands, without fear of literally killing each other or their families. Thankfully, she had heard that if she gets mono from kissing, she can’t play sports for 3 months and she isn’t interested in that. Yet. But how many kids a bit older than her are missing that? That made me sad. That’s a lot, given their hormones and how their self esteem is affected by things like that.

    Nevertheless, here we are. Our families are different and our kids have had to learn to live by different values. I like the way you put it: “doing it to help others and community,” rather than to protect ourselves, because the flip side is my worry that if I get it and don’t survive, I don’t want my kid(s) or anyone to blame themselves.

    I even had to cancel driving my father to a surgery when he sent pictures of him at his reunion with various people in restaurants, dancing, taking selfies together, and not a mask in sight. There was no way I was getting in a car with him until enough time passed or he was tested. This was literally while my cousin was on a ventilator, which he got off of (and I hate to think it’s probably that he got better care because he’s a doctor, but either way, he got lucky and is in rehab now. My neighbor just lost her brother.

    So my daughter is old enough to SEE what is happening for herself. If all else fails, she says she will wear the mask no matter what because she hates getting tested! Haha! I’ll take it!

    It’s definitely a tough time and I wonder constantly how all that is happening with our kids right now will play out and affect each of them. I wish so much for the polarization of every single topic to end. It’s heartbreaking to see. ❤️🙏🏽❤️

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  2. I think masks will stick around. It completely changes the landscape of how kids view their learning and friendship experience. I often think they understand the rules better than adults. Kids always seemed to go with the flow more, show their resilience, and not have as much FOMO that their parents had. It was the parents who came up with so many alternate and substitute activities that I don’t know if the kids truly needed or not.

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  3. I agree that kids are resilient. I also have observed that teens in particular have been greatly affected by isolation due to shut downs (as described by Gladys in a previous comment.) So it follows that we should do whatever we can to keep them in school. Masks are easily explained and understood by kids and seem like a small thing compared to the larger social issues brought on by isolation.
    This pandemic has given us a great opportunity to teach the next generation how to care well for others, particularly the weak and vulnerable. I predict books will be written about how we did or did not rise to the occasion.

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