From the days that I became a father, I knew what I did, what I said, and what I thought, would matter to my daughters. I would have four eyes and ears surrounding me from different directions, taking mental notes of the many things I would say or do, looking for consistency and if they were correct legally and morally. Decisions I would make, words I would express, and actions I took, would have an impact on both of their lives, forever.
The first ten years for each, it was always by example. It was basic. Sharing. Empathy. Telling the truth. Manners. Fun with friends. Anticipation. Doing things with no motive and no expectations. It was all about doing the right thing. Learning and doing all of these things would never require a correction or an apology. Sure, things could get lost or broken, but my lesson would always include, did anyone get hurt because of it. As long as the answer was no, we were going to move on to another day.
During the third quarter of their lives, just as things around the home that once were new, they may not work as reliably as in the beginning. And it is important to pay attention to when things begin to change. Reinforce well enough, and it can last even longer as the first day.
And so it goes with teenagers. Other influences appear in their lives, wearing on the values and ideals that you raised your children with. And that can mean mistakes. The lessons begin then on how to work through the errors in judgements, minimize any lasting effects, make any corrections necessary, and then move on. As a result, character develops, because that is who you are.
So throughout their lives, I hope that I have given my daughters everything they need, to figure out the difference morally between right and wrong, how to manage time, differentiating between want and need, and that quite possibly their thoughts and actions may have an impact on others. It especially starts with their lives, adulthood just a short time away.
My daughters have witnessed a lot of circumstances that can lead to struggles and sorrows for others. And they have the best of hearts and intentions to want to help, to empathize at the very least. The legitimately want to treat others the way that they want to be treated. Which is what makes the current situation we are all dealing with so difficult for at least one of my daughters, if not both, to understand.
As typical teenagers, they were not really aware of the beginnings of the Covid19 crisis. But the very first thing that came to their attention was not illness around them, but behavior. A simple thing as shelves in a grocery store, being empty of not just one item, several items. To my knowledge, my daughters have never been through something like we are experiencing. They had never heard either of their parents complain about a store being out of something we needed. This was too obvious, because too many things were out of stock.
And so, my daughters learned about panic and hoarding. I spent so much time trying to teach them the right way to live life, I made the mistake of not preparing them for the bad behavior of others.
In the northeast U.S., news of a winter storm rushes people to the grocery store for milk and bread, but rarely are the shelves bare. Along the east coast and southern U.S., hurricanes make people rush out to buy gas, water, ice, and other non-perishables to survive for days if not weeks. Admittedly, things could get kind of testy among us humans as supplies definitely do run short.
Under normal circumstances, shelves would not remain empty for long, maybe a couple of days. But my younger daughter noticed, the shelves were staying empty. What she may not have realized, at some point, the shelves may have been restocked, but by the time they got to the store, the shelves had been emptied again. It was then that I explained to her the behavior of panic and hoarding. I explained that people, just like when they prepare for an extreme weather event, they were doing the same now. The only problem, that unlike a weather event, there was a good chance that we would be asked to remain home much longer than a couple of days. With most of us not having been through a third world experience, the thoughts of preparing for shortages was unfathomable. Yet here we were, and still are. My daughter struggled though with why there was not enough for everyone.
This was just the beginning of the behaviors that would come into question as we all dealt with Covid19.
Commentary from certain people, including “Chinese” as part of the blame, and how it has an effect on them, just because they are Chinese. My children know they are innocent in this, yet they hear the rhetoric that is generically cast out to spur racist outrage toward people in our country of Asian heritage.
They do not understand the necessity to go to a state capital, armed with weapons of war to stage a protest. My daughters have learned about protesting from me, because I have participated in them. And at no time, did I ever present a weapon. My weapons were presence and words. But when a question is asked, “what were they going to do with the guns?”
But this is one that definitely gets to them, because they can kind of relate, as the participants being interviewed by various media resources, are young, and as far as I am concerned, ignorant, stupid, and selfish. “I’m just like taking it like, if I get the virus and die, like, then it was my time. I’m like going to have a great time at least with my freedom.” Other than the too frequent use of the word “like”, my daughters have nothing in common with what these “kids” were saying while being interviewed on the beach. My daughters are doing their part, not to be responsible for spreading or contracting the virus.
They could not understand why these morons first off, felt they were hanging on to their freedom. My daughters knew that they had their freedom and were not aware it was being taken from them by staying safe. But even my daughters could understand the dumb thinking that these selfish buffoons were not thinking about anyone but themselves. How would they have felt had they come down with the virus and taken it to their parents or grandparents, or someone else close to them, costing them their lives.
Sure, it’s easy to be so cocky and confident, “won’t happen to me,” as long as it does not happen to you. And then it does. And my daughters have witnessed that too many times with my health.
This crisis has definitely affected their worlds. But at least the one thing I do not have to worry about, is them losing their common sense, and their core values on respect and empathy for others. They are not waiting for something bad to happen to make them see the truth.