Like all of you, we at the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center have been sheltering in place in support of the state’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It is a time of great concern and great changes in our lives.
During these trying times, we’ve had to adjust to many changes including learning how to do things that we’ve done daily in new ways as we go along: how we work; how we shop; how we interact; and how we play. There’s been no corner of our lives that hasn’t been affected in some way by the current pandemic, making this the seminal moment for this generation. Clearly, nothing will be the same going forward. How we respond to these times and challenges will also change who we are forever.
It has been a month since our lives have had any sense of normalcy. A generation ago, World War II changed our parents’ lives forever. They lost four years, never knowing if or when life would ever get back to normal. It is difficult to imagine all that they went through during those years. But I do know that it was their seminal moment. As members of the “Greatest Generation,” their response and the lessons learned were heroic. That is their legacy to us.
How will we respond to the challenges we face during this pandemic? What will distinguish our generation? It has been a tough time for all parents, especially those with very young children. It has pained us at the Discovery Center not to be there for you when you needed us the most. It takes a village to raise a child. Never has that been more evident than during this past month, with the closure of schools and daycare facilities and the loss of support from grandparents and our extended families.
But those very challenges have also come with their own share of opportunities: to reconnect with our children, to savor precious moments, and to reassess our relationship with them. Sometimes it’s hard to see, especially in the face of hardships. But these opportunities rarely come around — when we can truly see how extraordinary ordinary moments can be.
It can come in the form of singing songs together while preparing dinner. It can come in the garden while watching flowers bloom. It can come in the garage while fixing a chair. It can come at bedtime when stories become adventures into our imagination. It can come in dozens of daily ordinary moments that provide opportunities for you and your child to learn, share and enjoy each other’s company.
It’s ironic that, in this age of technology and instant communication, so much technology keeps us from talking to each other. As parents, we’ve all experienced the uneasy sense that our children are more comfortable texting us than talking to us. That they are more comfortable with distance learning than learning with us. How did that happen? I can assure you it didn’t happen all at once, but slowly over time without notice. It began when they were young. They crave and need human contact. In these times, more so than ever.
In moments like these when there is so much to consider, sometimes young children are inadvertently overlooked. But they are the ones who will carry on and remember. They don’t see courage and heroism in grand gestures. Rather, they experience them in single small acts of sharing, caring and love. And one day, if we do our jobs well, as parents and as a village, our children will become our legacy.