Thank Your Kids and Teenagers Today for Their Essential Service!

I’m so glad you’re in my bubble, said Varjak to Cleo.

We are collectively holding our breath here.

Over the last 3 weeks or so, we have physically distanced ourselves for the good of our fellow citizens. We have been told by the prime minister of Canada and the premiers, chief medical officers and health ministers of all provinces and territories to do this, and most of us are doing it. And now we are waiting, to see how well it works.

There have been memes floating about which compare the sacrifices of past generations to the sacrifices of this one: “Our great-grandparents had to go to war, but all we have to do is sit on the couch.” It’s funny, it really is, but it’s disparaging, too.

We are all starting to realize what the sacrifices are, and they are huge. So let’s take a moment to acknowledge the strength that is being shown by so many.

We have asked our teenagers to stay away from their friends and activities 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for an unknown period of time. For most kids this isn’t easy, but they are doing it without complaint, because they know the stakes.

People on the internet are saying this is easy. But it isn’t. It’s really hard.

A teenager I live with

We have asked our children to digest the news that there is an illness being spread and they have to stay home in order to avoid contracting it and passing it on to people they care about. No matter how carefully we choose our words as parents, no matter how nonchalant our children appear in the face of these conversations, they are thinking about it on some level.

What’s up?

I’m wondering how long this is going to go on for, and how many new people got infected today.

A conversation with a teenager I live with.

We have asked our parents and grandparents to maintain physical distancing, which sometimes means spending a whole lot of time at home without the usual family connections and social interactions and support.

Normally I would be making Sunday dinner for the family right now.

Nan

We have asked many of our small business owners to shut down, and a large part of our workforce to accept a lay-off or reduced hours at work. Yes, our federal and provincial governments have responded with financial support to individuals, families and businesses, as they should. But surely this support will not make up for all the revenue and income that will be lost. And we, the tax payers, will shoulder the burden of debt that our province and country will amass during this time, as we must.

We have asked our health care providers and first responders to potentially expose themselves to a devastating virus, again and again, in order to care for our sick.

We have asked our essential workers, some of whom do not make a living wage, to report to work every day and interact with possibly infected members of the public as they complete their essential tasks.

Almost everyone has risen to the occasion.

The whole scenario that is playing out in our country is a testament to the good of humanity. We are watching, and waiting, and most of us are doing our parts. We are teaching our young people that sometimes you have to do the hard thing in order to do the right thing.

We are not wavering, and our leaders are not wavering, and we have managed to mostly put aside politics and embrace the common good, as we can see from the unlikely friendship that has been forged between Chrystia Freeland and Doug Ford. If you haven’t read about it, google it. It’s really sweet.

The word sacrifice implies that something will be lost as something else is saved or gained. I do not want to even begin to reflect on the losses that individuals and families and businesses will tally during this time, in terms of money or mental or physical health. But it has struck me that, although capitalism is alive and well here, we still can see a bigger picture. The elderly and the vulnerable – our people – are the most important thing.

Many of us have lamented the fact that so many decisions in this world are made as a result of the view through an economic lens. Well, the lens has flipped for now.

Most of us right now, in our concern for the safety of ourselves and our loved ones, are seeing the world through the lens of humanity and compassion and genuine care.

By thanking health-care providers and essential workers loudly and publicly, and by adhering to their pleas to stay at home, we are opening our hearts to the good.

Let’s keep up this trend and give our teens a pat on the back when they wake up this afternoon. They are doing their part for the common good of their fellow human beings, and it is a worthy lesson to learn.

9 thoughts on “Thank Your Kids and Teenagers Today for Their Essential Service!

  1. Such good points Janine. It is not easy for our teens. They do deserve a pat on the back. They miss their friends terribly.

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  2. This is great, Janine. You have put things in perspective so well. I plan to Google Friedland and Ford to see how they’ve risen to the occasion. Oh, how I wish our politicians, beginning with the President, would find it in their souls to act similarly.

    Please thank your teenagers for me. And I loved your wry observation “when they get up this afternoon…”

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    1. Thank you, Annie! I will pass your thanks on to my kids for sure.
      I have also been wishing the American president would step up properly to unite the country and deal with this crisis. It is hard to watch, and sad.
      All the best, and stay safe!

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