Kids Are Getting Screwed

On Monday, Mom and Buried took The Hammer to the playground.

They ran into a  pre-K classmate and my 5yo was so PSYCHED you’d have thought he’d fallen in love with Katie Holmes! He spent the next few hours running around like Tom Cruise on Oprah: having the time of his life (and freaking everyone else out).

Who could blame him?

He’d only met his classmate in person once before, back when it was warm enough to meet up outside, beyond Zoom. Already aware of how desperate The Hammer is for friends and to interact with kids his age, his excitement at finally getting that was borderline heartbreaking.

Kids are resilient. Kids are adaptable. Kids are getting screwed.

It hasn’t been easy for kids lately. (It hasn’t been easy for us either, but that’s adulthood. Stop whining!)

For the past year-plus, both of my kids have gone to class in their bedrooms, at the kitchen table, sometimes on the couch. It’s not ideal.

My 10yo’s final years at the only school he’s ever known have been mangled; he’s had less access to teachers (just as schoolwork got real) and few opportunities to see friends, and while the school – and the parents, including Mom and Buried – did their best, there was much less fanfare than usual hen he “graduated.”

Which I might normally be fine with, because you don’t really graduate elementary school, but here in NYC, when you change schools you change everything. Enrollment is not simply based on where you live, and which schools are in proximity, so you don’t go to middle school with the same kids you spent the last 5 years with.

The transition to middle school is hard enough in the best of times, but this fall will be especially abrupt. It’s no wonder he’s been moodier than usual. Who hasn’t?

It’s “easier” for my 5yo; he doesn’t know what he’s missing. His school years are only just beginning and he’s only really done school remotely.

But for preschoolers, class is less about academics and more about socialization, and The Hammer has really missed out. The bulk of his socialization has been with his 10yo brother (and supercool parents), creepers on Minecraft, and his collection of stuffed snakes. (Don’t ask.)

It’s not ideal. None of this is. Unfortunately, until things get better, there’s not much we can do. Family bonding only goes so far!

It will be years before we know the extent of the damage the pandemic has caused our kids, and even longer before they’re able to process it. Let’s not assume, just because kids are resilient and adaptable and strong, they aren’t struggling too.

My 5yo will be fine. My 10yo will be fine too. They’ll probably ALL be fine. (No thanks to the idiots extending the pandemic, and the inexplicable lack of concern for the health of the unvaccinated kids who are being forced to go back to school with no real protections in place.)

But not without our help.

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