How watching my sons during the pandemic taught me resilience | World news

December marks the 10th month of the Covid-19 pandemic. For a child this can feel like their entire life with no end in sight. For my two sons, nine-year-old Joey and eight-year-old Jackson, the initial transformation from normal to “new normal” did not exactly start out smoothly but turned out to be an unexpected gift.



Jackson is upset during the first lockdown while Joey runs through the kitchen in April.

Karen Osdieck’s children play football at her home in Illinois. Detailed caption TK.



Joey gets ready to throw a football to Jackson waiting in his bedroom window while Mark is working from home in November.

We–myself, my two sons and my husband, Mark– live in a small town, about an hour outside of Chicago, with farmland interspersed throughout a typical suburban landscape. On a normal day there is not much to do in New Lenox, Illinois, but when you are forbidden from doing everyday activities it feels much more isolating. I have photographed my sons since they were born while working on personal projects about boyhood, so documenting my family during difficult times was not out of the ordinary for them. While visually recording this time felt important to me, the act of taking photos gave us all a small sense of normalcy.

Mark whispers to Joey while Jackson sits on the playset in the backyard in New Lenox, IL on November 8, 2020.



Mark whispers to Joey while Jackson sits on the playset in the backyard in November.

Joey and Jackson lay on an inflatable pool float at home in New Lenox, IL on May 2, 2020.



Joey and Jackson lay on an inflatable pool float at home in May.

Each of my children responded differently to the pandemic. Jackson is more emotional when it comes to change while Joey tends to accept his circumstances easily but they both struggled to cope.

My husband and I spent time comforting both boys, listening to their concerns, and responding to their psychological needs. We reminded them it was important to talk about their feelings and it is OK for boys to have fears and show vulnerability. It was not the time to become little men, it was quite the opposite.

Jackson sits on the treehouse swing while Joey kicks dirt in the air in New Lenox, IL on August 27, 2020.



Jackson sits on the treehouse swing while Joey kicks dirt in the air in August.

Joey and Jackson play with sparklers during an early Fourth of July celebration in their backyard.



Joey and Jackson play with sparklers during an early Fourth of July celebration in their backyard.

During the first couple months, I grew increasingly scared and frustrated with the daunting uncertainty of the crisis. It was still important to me that my boys understood there were more serious problems going on in the world than little league being canceled. There were families suffering much worse than they could imagine. Unknowingly, they were learning the most valuable lesson of their young lives, empathy. A mindset that will hopefully stay with them through adulthood.

Joey holds a sheet of ice from the frozen pond in December.



Joey holds a sheet of ice from the frozen pond in December.

Joey and Jackson collect sticks for a fire in the field in New Lenox, IL on November 20, 2020.



Joey and Jackson collect sticks for a fire in the field in November.

Eventually they realized there was indeed a positive side to their circumstances (and that Mom was right). Their excitement began to build as they had more time for exploring the open lands, building forts and pond fishing. They gravitated to the outskirts of the neighborhood. It was close enough for their little legs to travel with only a glimmer of the familiar in the distance. Did escaping for a short time help them subconsciously cope with this unending new normal?

I learned so much about resilience and acceptance from my children during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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