Grandparenting: Anticipating March 11 – Harvard Health Blog

March 11, 2020 – or was it March 12, or a few days before or beyond? Each of us has a date and time engraved in our minds when we knew the COVID-19 pandemic was upon us. Now the anniversary of this date is fast approaching. What are we doing, if any, to mark it? And how do we convey our thoughts and feelings about this milestone to our grandchildren?

Anyone who has reached grandparent has collected birthdays along the way. There are birthdays of happy occasions, and those which serve as painful reminders of loss. There are personal birthdays – the births and deaths of loved ones – and public anniversaries, including 9/11, the moon landing and (for those of us in the mid-60s and beyond) the deaths of JFK, RFK and MLK. . For many of us, the coming anniversary of the pandemic carries elements of loss and triumph that feel both deeply personal and assuredly communal.

How has the pandemic affected your relationship as a grandparent?

Many grandparents were unable to see their grandchildren up close and personal. Others have been luckier, spending time with their grandchildren from the start, but despite this, this time has been punctuated by COVID fear and COVID fears. No one has been without challenges. Nonetheless, many grandparents find themselves looking back not only at loss, stress and frustration, but also at creativity, ingenuity, and discovery. Who would have imagined on March 11 – the very day the World Health Organization recognized the pandemic – that we would have car parade birthdays, a Thanksgiving dinner in our garages, board games and more on Zoom?

Why – and how – you would like to mark this birthday with your grandchildren

I wondered a lot about why and how grandparents might wish to celebrate March 11 with their grandchildren. Marking this time with our grandchildren can help them understand what they went through. In the years to come, when they look back on the pandemic, they might cherish memories of how their grandparents were their traveling companions.

Ask simple questions to help you capture those thoughts. What was it that disappointed? What was sad? Were there any unexpected gifts and moments of joy? Was there something that you really wished you could do, but couldn’t do – and everything that you achieved, although maybe differently from The Before Times? As we approach the anniversary of the day so much has changed for all of us, think about these questions and other ideas to help you reflect on this year with your grandchildren.

Young children from 3 to 7 years old

Young children may not understand the scale of the loss caused by the pandemic, or what it means to create rituals. But they include birthdays and holidays. It might be best to keep it light, approaching March 11 not from the perspective of loss and pain, but using it as a time to celebrate what they – and you – have accomplished. . They may have learned to wear masks, study online, and cope with the loss of activities that they really enjoy and enjoy. Something as simple as a cake with a mask made of frosting, or a “pandemic birthday” dinner in which you have pizza or other favorite food delivered, can communicate to young children that this strange time has taken place. a beginning and will – at some point – have an end.

Older children, ages 7 to 12

Your elementary and middle school grandchildren are old enough to remember March 11, 2020 and the changes that occurred in their lives in the days, weeks and months that followed. They can remember the feeling that many adults had at first – that the disturbances in our lives would last for a few months, and then we would be back to normal. Instead, a new standard of mask wearing and social distancing has developed. These children witnessed and participated in these changes. For this age group, March 11 has real meaning: Life as they knew it has changed. Depending on their creativity – and you – you might want to inspire them to create a collage of the year. Assuming you can’t do this together in person, the simple act of creating a collage via FaceTime or Zoom will help make this project an appropriate memorial for the year.

Teens

Adolescents understand. The pandemic has changed their lives in many ways. The touchstones of adolescence have been radically modified or temporarily suspended: proms, university tours, diplomas. School plays and concerts have been put aside. Religious celebrations and celebrations, such as bars and bat mitzvahs, have moved to Zoom. For many, classroom learning was interrupted at a time when they were most engaged. They surely suffered losses during the pandemic. Creating a ceremony or ritual with your teenage grandchildren can help them make a place for the pandemic in their life history. In doing so, he can offer assurance that this time will pass. Let them take the lead in what that ritual or ceremony will look like. Perhaps you could help them by sharing your memories of some of the complex times you went through, including the Vietnam War and the aftermath of 9/11.

As March 11, 2021 approaches, the pandemic is far from over. However, vaccines offer us all hope that life will be very different by March 11, 2022. This knowledge holds promise and provides an opportunity to approach the anniversary of the pandemic with curiosity and creativity, not considering it. not just as a painful reminder of it all. we lost, but also as a time of resourcefulness and resilience.

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Jothi Venkat

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