“Mommy, is the Coronavirus done yet?” These were the first words my son spoke upon waking today. This question is now so ingrained in him that before he asks to go anywhere or do anything, he asks if the Coronavirus is done. In a few ways, so smart on his part. It gives him a chance to decide if he will still ask if we can go somewhere, knowing the answer will be “no, but let’s add it to our list of places to go when the world is healthy again.” Or it gives him the opportunity to be creative and ask if he can do something that is in our home already. In another way, it breaks my heart that his little world has been turned upside down in a matter of weeks when he has only been alive a few years.
After just 2 weeks of being at home, he knows (at 2 yo) that things are vastly different than they were before. His routine used to consist of getting up Monday to Friday to go see his friends at his Montessori school. Every morning before we said goodbye, I would ask him what he wanted to do when I picked him up from school. Some days he would pick an adventure like Sky Zone, Children’s Museum, swimming or the library. Other days he would just want to go for ice cream or shop at Target (thank you Target for having a Starbucks with cake pops at every entrance). But no matter what it was, we always had something to look forward to when we reunited. We went to gymnastics on the weekends and just took adventures any chance we could. And we loved it. We loved exploring and learning and immersing ourselves in the community at large.
We learned this foreshadowing technique from our amazing sleep coach Ellie about a year ago when Bekytt was having a hard time letting anyone, except for me, take him to school or put him to bed, or really do anything with him. She helped us understand that if he had something to look forward to upon my return, it may be easier for him to open up to others. It worked! And we were hooked! We held onto as our sacred time together to give Bekytt the adventure he craved and the one-on-one time we cherished. So now, when he asks “is the Coronavirus done yet?” Our answer is obviously “not yet, but what are you hoping to do?” With a slight pause, and some thinking, he now has miraculously changed his answers to something like “I just want to feed the birds,” or “have some cake” or “can I take my ball outside?” It is miraculous because he is teaching me something through all of this.
Our toddler’s view on COVID-19 is quite simple. Is it still happening? Yes, ok. It will be over and when it is I have a list of things I want to do. What can I ask in the meantime to get a “yes” and how can I have fun? A toddler’s focus on the here and now, the present moment, is something that can feel challenging at times, but in the midst of all that is going on, it is extremely calming. If I can just focus on each present moment as they come, I actually really can enjoy them. If I continue to focus my mind on what I can do instead of what I can’t do, I start to feel a sense of calm come over me, just as I see it coming over Bekytt. When we get to say “yes” to one of his requests, the smile that emerges from his face and pure happiness, is a true gift. I feel extremely blessed that we are all teaching each other how to take this time in stride. We are all teachers, no matter how young or old. We can all learn from each other's mistakes and successes. Globally, we are all in this together.
-Kathryn Kraft, MPT
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