"Until when will we wait? We do not know."
I recently attended my grandchildren’s end-of-school-year activities. Our boy graduated from pre-school and will be moving to a big school to start his primary school education. His sister is now an incoming grade five pupil. Of course, to be fully safe, everything was done online.
For our boy’s graduation, there were the usual songs and readings by the kids. There were lots of activity pictures from the time of face-to-face classes until they shifted to online schooling. Their certificates were delivered to the children’s homes earlier so they would be able to pose with it during the event. One has to credit the hard work put in by the teachers as they navigated this new terrain to ensure the kids’ continuous learning. I take my hats off to them.
This is a small private Montessori pre-school and there were only about 30 kids in all levels this school year (which is much less than their usual enrollment). I could not help but wonder how graduation would be done in public schools with hundreds of students considering that public gatherings are presently not allowed. How will schools capture both the solemnity and celebratory moods of graduations? How will students feel a sense of achievement?
Unlike his sister who has at least finished a few grade levels physically interacting with her friends, classmates, and teachers, our boy’s first grade will also be done online. For now, his entering the big school is more figurative than anything. He may not find this to be as significant as it should be. There will be no “first day of class excitement” as he is brought to his brand-new school and classroom or as he meets his brand-new classmates for the first time. Instead, all he needs is to sit down in front of a computer.
Often, I think about the possible effects of this lingering pandemic on the development of our children. As it should be, our primary concern now is to keep our family safe from COVID-19. But drastically changing our children’s lives and keeping them cooped up inside our homes for more than a year now may also have implications on their mental health and overall development. I hope that I am simply being overly concerned and that my worry is unfounded.
The time lost cannot be recovered. It is forever lost. This is true for all of us.
Staying put was certainly not my plan for last year and this year. I promised myself that I would go back to places that I have been to and liked, physically visit friends that I have not seen in years because of distance, and rediscover historical sites that have caught my interest from historians I have read. I was starting to get excited and already made tentative arrangements with friends who wanted in on the adventure. I have lined up the places and the people I have missed.
I wanted to do these while I still can, physically. I know that I no longer have the amount of time I had years back and when I wanted to do as much as I could. But the pandemic struck and derailed my plans. Now I am playing a waiting game and at the same time mentally recalibrating my plans.
I recognize that I am privileged because I am alive and have the luxury of thinking about these things. Many others of my generation, and even younger ones, are now gone, many, too soon. Their time in this life was cut short with finality. Their loved ones have lost them permanently. In many cases, those bereaved even lost the time to properly mourn and grieve. This is a cruel way to lose someone.
The truth is, young and old, we have all lost someone or something one way or another. All of us lost time that will never come back. Our kids are significantly losing precious years of their childhood. It is their time to be carefree and enjoy life, to play with other children, and discover things around them. Sadly, they are now being limited and their adventures, curtailed.
Our adolescents are supposed to be discovering themselves and the world. Normally, the growing-up years are spent physically going to school, spending time with friends, and finding interests on their own. Now, many are confined and have to be content with online games and social media. Young adults are supposed to be charting their lives, pursuing careers, and starting to make a life for themselves. Instead, many have lost jobs, or if they are still employed, many are working from home, without their usual social life.
The mobility of those who are advanced in age is severely limited. For those living in the provinces, being together with their family in Metro Manila has become a rare luxury. Seeing a small circle of friends needs to be orchestrated and with all necessary precautions taken, if at all allowed. So please, be extra patient with your parents or grandparents if at times, they throw tantrums. It is not easy to be under “house arrest.”
All our lives are on hold. Until when will we wait? We do not know. That this government is incompetent in addressing the pandemic does not help. For now, let us all do everything to keep safe, get that vaccine the first opportunity we have and use our time for other pursuits that we enjoy and can be done indoors. Do not forget to plan so we can put the plan in action the moment that we are freed from this pandemic.
We may have lost time but we can still be productive, have some sense of fun, and look forward to being out there again.
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