I was driving in my care and I was thinking " I hope not". As that hope dwindled and doubt started getting louder and louder I decided I better just make the call and find out so I can stop this swirling in my head. "Siri call Summer's school". The phone rang and rang. For a moment I thought that I would hear an answering machine and my heart began sinking thinking I would have to wait for a call back. Then the receptionist answered the phone. Gulp! My heart now began to race. Please. Please. PLEASE I began thinking.
"Hi, this is Jodi Harty and Summers mom and I am just calling to inquire about summer school..." Ok here goes, fingers crossed. "Is it going to be in person or is it going to be online?" I held my breath hoping for the best, preparing for the worst. The person on the other end said "It will be done all online." My heart sank. I would say a piece of it was broke open. Here was a piece of hope we were clinging to and now it had just been ripped away. I again would have to tell Summer that she would not be "socializing. That she would not be able to learn Math 10C in a class setting, be able to get to know new people to formulate "real study groups." I again would see the loss in her eyes, the disappointment and I could do NOTHING about it. I can not fix this. I can not change this. How do you find normal, in anything that is but normal. That goes against the very existence of human nature... [To live in community, to have a tribe, to be part of something]. How do I mitigate the damage that this is causing to our youth?
If you are anything like me, you see all the damage being done to people outside of the bubble we have been told to live in. You've seen depression rates rise, you've seen family violence and deaths increase. You've read about the amount of suicides since this world shut down. You have also seen that addicts that have been clean for years are now using again because everything they have implemented in their lives to be successful has been deemed non essential and prohibited or closed down.... If you have children you see and experience first hand the distress, anxiety, desperation, sadness and depression they are falling into no matter how much of a routine gets implemented, no matter how much outside time occurs, no matter how much talking or creative expression is encouraged. This is what stresses me out, this is what is overwhelming because I can not "change" the situation. This is what has many parents like myself wracking their brain at nights on how they can make things better.
The amazing thing about being a coach, is I get to work with a lot of coaches and coaching is primarily done ALL online, so I am used to this. My community is ON THE LINE :). I reached out. I told them what I was struggling with. I told them that I am struggling with not being able to "coach this problem away." That I could move the obstacle... Minister of health. Using MY TOOLS, this is what we came up with.
Create a live study period, where everyone just meets up, lays out their goals, what they are struggling with and then proceed to help via screen sharing. Just to work together quietly and have small conversations.... Cause lets face it, learning math online or by correspondence and not having a human presence there to help, explain differently or just work with you is so difficult.... We know cause Summer is learning physics right now that way and it is brutal... Not I or her dad can help her with that. So setting aside 3 hours 1-2x a week for a study group. Work for an hour, ten min break, socialize, then another hour and then time to share, ask questions, talk about life.
Take the fear blinders off. If there are students in her class that would like to meet up personally for study groups, take advantage of that. Provide the snacks, provide the driving, provide whatever I can to help facilitate a better learning experience and more supportive environment.
Recognize that our kids have goals, and this world change can drastically affect those goals negatively if we don't do our utmost best to mitigate that damage. Summer wants to be a doctor of Chiropractic. She has the academic ability to make that goal a reality. With all the sciences she needs in high school with all the Math she needs in high school, this could make or break that dream. As her parent I have the ability to think critical, to think ahead and look for the obstacles that may be in front of her and help make them smaller or remove them. As parents we need to do this for our children during this time. They need us to be able to see the things they do not so that their future careers/dreams are not affected by this world change.
Remembering that they have lost greatly too, and that even though things are slowly reopening, they are caught in the middle. Parks for children are reopening, some adults can go back to work, hair cuts, Physio, chiropractic are now available.... But what is for our youth. Their extra curricular, their school.... All remain closed.
By problem solving with "my people". By asking for support over the things that I can not see, I was able to lower my stress, lower my overwhelm and begin to see a light.... The light casts shadows, but the light is also exposing those shadows. Thats the power that coaching has. It's not weak to ask for help. It's not weak to express your fears or anger. Life is not always rainbows and glitter. Yes coaching is about finding the positives in any given situation, but it is also being able to find strength when that fear, anger, sadness is expressed because what often seems huge for us... Is just a little bump in the road to others. That is the human experience. That is what living in community means. That is what limits stress and overwhelm in our lives when we have a crew that will get in the trenches with us and help us dig our way out.
As I end this let me leave you with one final thought. If you were to leave this world tomorrow, would people be able to say you helped them? Did you help the mom that was struggling with her kids to load the car with groceries while still trying to ensure "her crew" was social distancing. Did you help the old lady with a mask on pick up the items she dropped? Did you allow that driver space after they were speeding and cut you off? What do you think will matter more when you're gone, how you avoided or how you engaged and how you managed that engagement?