Dear Friends and Parents:
I received a note from a mother whose family hopped in their car and headed for the hills of cottage country when Covid first drove them inside. It’s gone well for mom, dad and teenage son. Nature, by its nature, has provided plenty of chances for the family to stay sane and engaged.
“Being here has been an absolute gift for us all, especially C (my son). He’s been working on projects like rebuilding a moldy shed, taking the online ATV course, chopping and stacking wood, hiking, playing basketball, observing the beaver that has moved in down the street, tracking the moose and its calf, building fires, shooting the targets with his bb gun and slingshot, grating the road and driveways for all of the neighbours.”
It seems we have a regular Tom Sawyer on our hands.
Changing circumstances means the family has to move back south to the land of pavement. This worries mom. Can her very own Mark Twain character make the transition?
“Frankly, going back to the City terrifies me. Any suggestions as to strategies we can work on here to prepare him for re-entry?”
Instead of answering mom, I am opting to write a response directly to C.
I hear you’ve been on fire up north. You have kept your parents pretty stoked about you. Kudos.
Not to mince words C, life in Toronto is pretty weird. I saw my isolating neighbour bear-hugging his new dog, smushing faces, and whispering to the beast,
“You complete me”.
My 24-year old gets yelled at on the streets. He’s committed the capital crime of hanging out with a crew of many colours. This makes him a mark. Forget the fact that he does the distancing thing. Adults just wail on him anyways.
This is to say that people are pretty scared down here. Emotionally volatile.
My sense is that teenagers are a little less of both.
Yesterday I saw three girls in chic cotton masks strolling the sidewalk. Clumsily, they tried to maintain distance. It was like watching magnets of opposite polarities struggling to stay apart. Maybe they come from Covid-free families and don’t quite feel a threat.
My daughter’s best pal, during a 6 feet apart porch visit two days ago, reflexively hugged me goodbye. Oops.
This whole situation creates a schism. Adults are afraid, and young people are chill. This can be a recipe for trouble at home and in public.
The behavior of your peers tells me that Gen Zees think covid-19 protocols are a little over the top. I’m not saying they don’t respect the severity of the plague. In fact, they go to the ends of the earth to protect their elderly loved ones. But many play a little loose with the laws.
What to do?
You will have way more social opportunities at home than up north. Some parents are starting to ease up on the reins of social gatherings for their kids. But only a little.
Have a chat with your parents about what these rules should be. Come to an agreement together. Shake hands. Navigate these restrictions as best you can. Honour the spirit of these rules, even if it’s impossible to abide by every nuance. The whole point is to not infect people.
Stay the hell away from seniors, which won’t be hard, because they will want to stay the hell away from you, and because you will innately recognize the danger here.
Don’t wage war on people who insult you without provocation. You can’t win that war. People are legitimately afraid, even if you’re not.
Finally, about schoolwork.
I am guessing you agree that schools are making it pretty easy to coast online. Simply gettin-er-done is the credo. Only a superb teacher can demand more. I hope you have a few of those.
Do what you need to do academically to keep everyone happy. Especially you. It will be enough. And careful on the excessive gaming – you love being outside anyways. Keep doing that a lot to keep sane.
I do hope, C. we get to carry on with Boundless this summer and hope to see you there.
Good luck with your move to the madness down here.