Kids Through the Pandemic
This pandemic has been without a doubt challenging for most people, especially kids. As a mother myself, I’ve seen my own son amazingly navigate this past year with a lot of strength. That’s not to say that he didn’t have his moments of desolation. And naturally, being a photographer as well, I wanted to document his life during quarantine, which eventually led me to doing these series of masked portraits of other kids and discover their own experiences.
It was very interesting to hear directly from them what they missed the most, how they coped, and what they are looking forward to doing the most once the pandemic is over. It is really bewildering to see how resilient kids can be, sometimes even more than adults. I heard from kids who once they stopped going to school in person, started traveling around the country experiencing another kind of learning. I also heard from kids who didn’t only have to deal with COVID-related fears, they also had to deal firsthand with the tumultuous times the country went through during last year ‘s protests.
Many of these kids grew in every sense a bit faster than normal. They had to adapt quickly to a new learning environment, to more secluded lifestyles, having less contact with friends and some forming stronger bonds with their families, and they also had to adapt to wearing a mask outside of their homes. Learning about their own experiences was without a doubt very inspiring.
One parent gives us a glimpse of what it was like to watch his kids navigate the pandemic:
"The Snap and The Blip. The culmination of Marvel’s Avengers storyline in 2019 in which half the life in the Universe was instantly crumbled into ash by a mad Titan. A shocked humanity struggled to deal with the aftermath for five years, until the heroes could undo the event. Consequences are rarely permanent in the comics world.
The year before, my family had suffered its own Snap, when my beloved wife died after a three-year battle with breast cancer. Our thirty-year history flatlined with the last beat of her heart, her eight years of motherhood carried off with her last breath. Picking up her mantle, our twins and I began picking up the pieces and building a new life on the sturdy foundation she had helped us build.
Then in 2020 personal and global tragedy villainously teamed up in the coronavirus pandemic. In a month, our world upended once again. School, work, shopping, recreation, and friends were snapped away, as if cascading over the edge of a flat-Earth map until we were alone on the little ship that was home. Here be dragons.
In losing my wife at 50 I had learned the unwanted lesson that I was not nearly as in control of my life as I once believed. It’s one of the first and most important things you’re supposed to accept in 12-Step programs, and it does lift a weight, giving you a chance to BE, rather than to DO. We can certainly all ACT wrongly, but your existence cannot be wrong. Quarantine forced us all to stop doing so much, and primarily just exist, with ourselves. The way we got through our personal loss ended up applying equally well to surviving at home. I didn’t discover these until during the pandemic, but we had unwittingly applied many 12-Step principles to ensure our well-being, such as honesty, integrity, and acceptance. Though they were young, my wife and I were always strictly honest with the kids about her illness. She died. She did not 'go to sleep.' Lying does not shield us from fear, as many parents hope, but only heightens it. Knowing that they were loved AND trusted made a huge impact of how they successfully dealt with loss. And honesty about the pandemic also gave them the confidence to navigate its challenges. Going from classroom to dining room was a far smaller change than losing your mother. We read and commented on the ever-changing news together, so they could comprehend our bubble rather than feel trapped by it. They were particularly proud of being able to protect their grandmother simply by staying put, swapping what might have seemed like passivity for positive action. We spent extra time isolated out in nature, which has its own healing qualities, and used the formerly dreary commute time to school to bike around the neighborhood together every morning. We 'chose not to feel harmed,' and 'Let that which stood in the way become the way,' both 2000-year-old quotes from Marcus Aurelius.
The heroism of front-line and essential workers and first responders got us through the dark. Now the real-world magics of science and medicine are giving us a pathway back to the light. Every generation of humans has had some tragedy befall it, and we persevere, adapt, and come back stronger. Despite the 'loss' of a year, I’m confident our children will be full exemplars of the human spirt as we once again 'Assemble!' like the Avengers." - Irl Sanders