There are many frustrating and challenging aspects of this current lockdown due to Covid-19 across the world. Every day we’re confronted with them either in our own homes or watching other peoples’ that we see online. I don’t want to diminish those challenges or somehow say they are not important – because they are.
However, this week I’ve been thinking about the positive elements it is bringing for my teenage children. If you’ve followed my blog journey for any length of time you will be aware that we have three adopted teenagers who have been part of our family for nearly 12 years now. They are amazing and I love them dearly. So much of their lives is tainted and sometimes overshadowed by this beast called adoption. They’ve been bullied and teased at school because of it, they’ve been misunderstood and felt rejected often and they have a life-long struggle to make sense of their early childhoods. Whilst Hollywood would like us to think that adoption is a fairy tale affair – many times it isn’t.
That said I have recognised some positives in this current lockdown situation regarding my particular children. It may not be the same for all, and you may need to look intensely to find these tiny shots of growth – but they may be there!
So, what are they for us?
This one can be a double-edged sword – more time spent together. Of course, at the moment for many of us this can be frustrating, but I have noticed that my children are actually wanting to spend time off their screens and with us (not all the time of course). As they went into teenage years the change to wanting to be with their peers and away from us grew. Now in forced proximity some of the joy of family life has returned.
Children who’ve had a disrupted childhood like ours often need us close but don’t necessarily want us close. The trust can be hard to develop. But this time is allowing them to be ok about needing to be close. I’m taking every opportunity I can to meet that need (whilst making sure I get time alone too).
Part of this as well has been the simplicity of life at the moment. Yes, we have technology and that’s a life saver but also, we are sitting outside together, the boys are playing tennis together (not done for a number of years), cooking and baking together, doing puzzles and tidying the house together. Who knew it could be fun! Well that might be a stretch – maybe not fun but fulfilling at least.
Another great thing for my children and an opportunity we have for growth is around empathy. When you’ve not received empathy and kindness as a young child, for whatever reason, empathy can be hard to develop. Watching the news together and discussing the situations people are in has been helpful for my teenagers’ development of empathy. Today, for example, my 17 year old son is coming with me to collect some shopping for a stranger and deliver to his door. What a great chance for being aware of the needs of others and putting others first?
One of the unique and amazing things that has happened has been around my children’s relationship together. They bicker and argue most of the time but there have been occasions were the forced togetherness has allowed some real moments of healing. We had a particularly difficult situation a few weeks ago where an argument arose between one of my sons and his dad and as a result tensions were high in the house. I found out later (once my husband and I had stopped arguing too) that the children had come together in his room and were comforting each other and recalling situations in their birth family. This is unheard of for them but for my youngest son as he talked about it later it really helped him to make sense of his past a little bit more.
Also, for my youngest son the time spent with his siblings is important. He is planning on going to residential college in September (all being well) and if we weren’t in lockdown he would be with his friends. As we are though he has had to spend more time with his siblings and with us. He commented yesterday about what a good thing that is! We will look back on this time together with fondness once he has left us to pursue his own dreams.
Any of you with children of any age will be all too familiar with the phrase “I’m bored”! In normal everyday life I hear this every day at least once if not more. Now is no exception to that – the difference though is that we’re all having to manage our ‘boredom’. I don’t actually think its boredom as in nothing to do but boredom as in I can’t do the things I’d like to do. We have done so many things we normally don’t do which has broadened our creativity and motivated us to get things done we’ve put off for a long time. Teaching our children to manage their time and energy better has got to be good!
So, I’m hoping that as we come out of this season and move into whatever the next season will look like, that whilst we can engage again in the things we’ve missed, I hope we hold onto some of these lessons we’ve learnt too. Be kinder to others, live a simpler life, make time for each other and be more productive with our time!