Updated: Apr 22, 2020
I read a wonderfully written post on instagram from a friend who was sad that her daughter was banging on the window to get the attention of some neighbouring children playing in their garden because she wanted to play with them. And I witnessed this need for connection and socialisation in my own daughter yesterday.
We were out for our daily jaunt of the neighbourhood and some other similar aged children were in their garden , my 20 month old made a bee line to them ,and stood on the other side of the fence, transfixed, waving and saying hi hi hi !! She was so excited to see people her own height. I almost , like my friend said in her piece, was reduced to tears.
Yes, as us adults are feeling segregated , pressure in the situation, our mental health is taking knock at times, it is also our kids, the youngest of the family , who are unable to communicate their feelings, their sense of separation and loneliness too, even though they are with you every moment of the day. My wee one and I were social butterflies, we went out everyday to do something, be it a play class or play group or just a play in the park. I know I'm missing the social interaction of people so it goes without saying she must do and does to. I believe wholeheartedly that contact and free play with others is beneficial to a child's development. And a parents sanity. It is sad to think on top of it all that even with our best , we aren't enough in some areas for our kids. They crave attention but no necessarily ours... they need their friends, their mates. Ive spoken about positive peer pressure where , right from a young age , children watch and copy , mimic not just the adults around them but the children. They learn to do basic motor skills from being egged on by other babies, and in turn like minded and able children. I know my wee one started to crawl because she saw a friend do it who was that wee bit older, and to walk too! She wanted to get involved, and follow her even to chase her around. I know definitely that these two are missing each other and even at a young age feeling the void of not being with each other at least once a week. So I can only imagine that our kids are feeling the strain ( without even knowing what they are feeling) of confinement and the distance between the life they knew and the life they know. It will be weird when we are allowed out of solitary and into general population again.
We are, collectively, missing the freedom of movement. The communal feel of a familiar and safe space to play and relax in outside of the home . Conversation on all levels between friends young and old. My other concern is my wee one is essentially an only child. Her brothers are so much older and the virus has postponed me making her a sibling. She is reliant on me solely for entertainment and as much as we are both revelling in the time together even with its highs ( new skills in language ) and lows ( tantrums when she is not being heard) I feel I'm teaching her as much as I can in the relaxed setting ,,, it's her friends she needs. I do wonder if kids with siblings are feeling the same or they already have a home made gang mentality and this is just forging those bonds more deeply.
This piece is not to make us parents feel even more inadequate than we do feel sometimes, but to acknowledge the feelings of those wee ones that cant tell us they are feeling the void too. We really are doing the best we can, in this mad situation and we will get through it. And so will our kids, they won't get left behind I assure you as they are all at different stages anyway. Like mine, the wee ones are too young really to retain any lasting residual effects of this. Others may remember the time when.... and remark they were alive then and this happened etc. All will study this era in school in later years and it will be but a distant memory. Thank goodness. We just need to make sure we reinstate the connections with friends and family fast, and never take them for granted again. If anything I see this deepening social and family bonds and that is a good thing to come out of this. Like the saying goes , ''absence makes the heart grow fonder!''