Together or Apart, We Grow

Together or Apart, We Grow

By Allison Hopkins

As I reflect on the world’s longest year while challenging myself to find the positives, I am intrigued by a quote from the Old Owl Press. “Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.” Have we realized that the sports, music, art classes, scout meetings, youth groups, and other organized kids’ activities can be gone in the blink of an eye? What is left? Well, I guess it is the ability to “bounce,” switch gears, and be flexible and adaptable.

In many conversations this past year, the word “resilient” kept popping up. “Kids will be fine because they are so resilient,” people kept saying. At times, I struggled with this because the age group I continued to worry about most, in terms of their happiness, development, and growth, was school-age kids. Our kids had way too much time on their hands. Suddenly, we parents needed to figure out how to keep them occupied and win the ongoing battle of us against electronics- All while continuing our daily responsibilities.

When it looked like we were in it for the long run, I made many calls to see who I could hire to teach my 12-year-old son something (anything) to help break up the day. I will share that has been a savior. He is making a lot of progress learning Japanese through weekly video chats with his instructor. This is something we would not have signed up for with our regular routine. We have also discovered that road trips are a great way to see the world beyond the four walls we’ve been staring at.

I was curious, so I took a survey. What have other kids been up to besides mastering virtual learning? My survey results have been fantastic, and I wish I would have done this six months ago.

Long-term Positive Effects

Seeing What it Takes to Run a Household vs. Coming Home with Everything Magically Done. Mom of Kaine (12) says this is invaluable.

Talking More with Their Parents. Kaine’s mom also noticed that instead of one-word responses from her kids when they came home from school (how was your day), they are distance learning and talking her ear off!
Connecting More as a Family.
Mom of Everett (11) found this to be something she believes our society needed. “Time to slow down, and time for family meals,” she explains. “The only way to change this social paradigm was for us to be forced to do it.” (I immediately started to think that here’s another article topic.)
Mom of Addyson (13) and Jack (11) shared that the family being home 24/7 has resulted in learning to lean on each other, give more, listen more, and know each other’s needs.
Brothers Noah (17) and Joshua (13) have bonded by visiting their grandma, who recently moved into a care facility. Only two people have been able to go at once.
Veronica (10) and her mom are drawing pictures together, each getting one side of a large sheet of white paper.
My son and I have connected by overcoming the challenge of completing a 1,000-piece anime puzzle.
As a family, we have shared many laughs in the evenings watching the entire series of The Office, Scrubs, Monk, and Psych (Is this something to be proud of?).

Meeting the Neighbors. Juliette (9), her sister Jessalyn (8), and their parents have enjoyed getting to know eight neighbor kids and their families.

Learning Life Skills

Learning Perseverance. A second-grade teacher has commented that her students cheer her on as she gets stuck with technology issues! They say, “You can do it!” She mentions that one student could lead the distance learning group by herself at this point.

More Independence. Caleb (14) was nervous about getting his braces on but went to the appointment on his own. He is becoming more assertive with teachers and is making his own lunch.

Appreciating the Small Things. Mom of Addyson and Jack shared that things like getting to play at a friend’s house won’t be taken for granted.

Cooking. Cooking. Cooking. From little ones to high schoolers, this seems to be a popular response.
Alex (9) has been making lunch for his mom; he taught himself over-easy eggs with only verbal instructions!
Cameron (11) is cooking eggplant parmesan in Maryland while his grandma in North Carolina gives him directions over Zoom.
Addyson has a new cookbook and is making banana bread from scratch.
Asher (15) is watching Gordon Ramsey and learning basic cooking methods, making a shopping list, and creating tasty entrees.
Aidan (15) makes homemade pizza, soft pretzels, and Olive Garden breadsticks, specializing in anything with yeast. (Before the pandemic, his mom was not sure if he could make toast).
Twin sisters Anneka and Avery (15) have been cooking ethnic meals from all around the world.
Sewing. Madeline (9) took a virtual sewing class and is using the machine without her mom’s involvement.

Okay, this is just AMAZING!

More Time for Cleaning. Ethan (14) is now in charge of the kitchen, and his parents are loving it!

Exploring Different Types of Exercise
Online Dance Lessons. Madeline’s parents converted the basement into a dance studio.
Surfing. Basketball and soccer were canceled, but Gavin (12) had a chance to take surfing lessons in Monterey and rent a board on a trip to San Diego.
Golf. Parker (10) and his brother Bennett (8) started taking golf lessons and are now golfing with mom and dad as a family. This is something mom says never would have happened with their regular busy routine.
Tennis. Everett is having a good time on the tennis courts, a different experience for him.

Having New Types of Fun
Hogwarts Class. This class is an hour a day for four days through Liam (9) learned about spells, potions, and the care of magical creatures. How cool!
Chess. Holden (10) is playing the game and loving it.
Telling Dad Jokes. At eight years old, Evo’s been practicing dad jokes while his little brother is busy scootering around. (Love this.)

The list goes on and on. Thank you to all my participants. Together we’ve found some positives!

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