Fantastic Friday: Hero

Like so many, I am home/working from home in social isolation to hopefully prevent the spread of COVID19. I must admit that as an introvert, being stuck at home is sort of nice (obviously, it would be much nicer if it were a) voluntary and b) without the threat to humans across the globe and constant fear of the invisible danger.

But I realize not everyone is an introvert like me.

At first, my daughter was thrown off by being pulled out of preschool. She was disappointed and lonely (in her words) about not being able to see her teachers or friends. It even seemed she blamed herself for having to stay home (“If I promise to wash my hands, can I go to school again?”).

From time to time in our play, she would pause and frown. When I’d ask what was wrong, she’d say something like, “At school when this happens, so-and-so always tells a joke about a racoon laughing” (or some other preschool quirk). It was clear that a hole had opened in her life that had been filled with her friends.

And now what?

In the first few days, I (like most) was burdened with anxiety. There are so many unknowns about COVID19 and its impacts. Mostly, my fear of getting sick and not being able to take care of my kids. One day in particular, my corgi Yoda would not stop barking, trembling, or clinging to me. And my son, who had been sleeping through the night, woke up four times with nothing wrong except for seeming unsettled.

Their unsettled behavior was my wake-up call. Soon, I realized that it was up to me to make this a positive experience for my family. From the next morning on, I made efforts to look at the positive, to remind family members how glad I was to have so much time together with them. I even played up the fun of staying in your PJs for as long as you want (which my daughter took literally and now wears PJs all the time!).

But as the days went on, she stopped talking so much about her school and her friends. Though they come up from time to time, she echoes my outlook now, saying things out of the blue like, “I love you” and “I’m so glad we have time to play this game together” and “my brother and me are becoming good friends.” Positivity certainly is contagious.

The other night we read a book called “My First Book of Girl Power,” about some of the superheroes, like Wonder Woman, Bat Girl, Super Girl, etc. Each superhero has a power that real girls (or boys, or anyone!) can adopt, like strength, wisdom, knowledge, magic. Okay, well maybe that last one is metaphorical. But with each superhero, I talked about the strength highlighted and how my daughter could demonstrate that strength in her life.

At the end, she sat with a profound look on her face. Then she got up and wrapped me in a hug. “Mom,” she said. “Do you know who my superhero is?” There was a pause. I started to choke up, but then I realized she was probably going to say something wacky, like the joke about the laughing racoon that seems to be circulating through her class.

“Who?” I asked.

“You,” she said, wrapping me tighter.

It meant the world to me. It was needed reinforcement of a lesson we too easily forget. We are all so connected, even in isolation. It’s easy to forget how our actions or lack of actions impact others. Perhaps a benefit of the world being put on hold is the gift of time—time to think, to reach out (from a safe distance, of course!), to make connections.

Because you never know whose hero you’ll become.

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