What I’m learning from my teen about thriving under lockdown
CXC Logo

It isn’t easy adapting to a world where everything has changed and nothing will ever be the same. But the generation whose lives are being redefined by the pandemic have much to teach us rethinking, relooking, and resilience

"What would happen to her goals for the year, and her ideas, and her plans? They’ve not changed. They’re the same as before. She is studiously concerned with ensuring she doesn’t falter."

Adapting to the lockdown lifestyle did not hit me as hard as I expected it to. I felt proud of our preparedness. But that feeling of euphoria would soon fade, because I wasn’t prepared for the entire context of our lives to change. I do know who was. My daughter.

She had just started that heady ascent into a teen social life. I was bemoaning (secretly, I loved it, don’t tell anyone) the constant to and fro from hangouts and meetups.

I was excited. These are the delicious teenage years, filled with meaningful experiences. This was the time where she’ll live the stories she will tell later on.

I kept every movie ticket stub from those years in my life, and I knew she was journaling her way through hers. This was the experience I wanted for her. These were the formative moments that would shape and guide her.

And then, they stopped. Halted by the pandemic, her nascent teenage life blurred to a stop. The rush out the door to get to school and catch up with friends couldn’t happen. The invitations to friends’ house stopped.

Where there was once a diary filled with dates, emptiness lay ahead. This worried me far more than I’d let on. I couldn’t sleep. But I forgot something in those sleepless nights – her resilience.

Children and the young adults they become, have an innate resilience. Adults don’t. We spend too much time worrying about the what and why, and forget to focus on the right now.

I was downstairs at my desk, hand-wringing over survival. She was upstairs in her room, adapting to thrive.

Schoolwork? No problem. She learns online, takes charge of her day, and sets out her work for the week. Her to-do list is longer than mine, and yet, she doesn’t falter. There are Zooms and Meets, Hangouts and WhatsApps. She’s spending more focused time on schoolwork than she did before.

Social life changes? What social life changes? With apps and WiFi, she’s seeing more of her friends’ faces than she usually would. Her best friends remain her best friends.

Can’t go to the movies on a Saturday with mates? No biggie, we’ll find something to watch online, and talk each other through it as we watch from our own, separate homes. Can’t gossip on the school field anymore? Not a concern. Late night video chats are the new normal.

She didn’t even break a sweat when she turned off her alarm clock. She wasn’t bothered by not having to don a uniform and head out into the world. Instead, it’s comfortable wear, and nobody bugs her about how to roll her socks.

Many of her friends have ramped up the zany, dyed their hair all the ‘not permitted’ colours, and are enjoying a new sense of identity under lockdown.

What would happen to her goals for the year, and her ideas, and her plans? They haven’t changed. She is studiously concerned with ensuring she doesn’t falter. She’s simply adapted her goals for this life, and not the one we lived before.

In an uncertain world, her approach is not like yours or mine. It’s rooted in humour: “I guess this will be my story about trudging five miles in the snow to get to school one day” and “What are they going to do if I don’t finish this worksheet on time – send me to detention? The world is in detention!”

In-between the cleaning, cooking, and working that lockdown life demands, I knew there was an opportunity to teach my kid how to live in a brave new world. In reality, she is teaching me.