Child’s play - The Orca
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Child’s play

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Even in a pandemic, the kids in Jody Vance’s life are getting on with their lives, at ease with their friends having varying levels of comfort and fear. We’d do well to follow their lead.

Today’s lesson comes in the form of child’s play.

History has shown that in times of struggle, much can be learned from the resiliency of children. They carry on without the weight of every worry on their minds, and simply get on with their day-to-day with innocent abandon.

Imagine how a dose of that might lighten the lives of grownups in 2022.

Some Middle on this Let’s Talk Day, a day when we are reminded the importance of listening: hear from the kids tips on tackling times of turmoil. Look around, see them as they play, even in a pandemic. As we manage an upside-down reality for almost two years — the kids are alright.

It is truly remarkable how the vast majority of littles have adapted to measures and restrictions seamlessly. What do they know that we don’t? Or are we overthinking and cannot get past ourselves?

Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Kids simply getting on with it? My focus group of community kids are all about letting each other have their own threshold of confidence. None have said “I just don’t get these health orders, they are so confusing!? I need more DATA!”

Not. One.

These kids are finding safe ways to stay connected; “hey, let’s hang outside, keep our masks on (so we don’t lose them) and, duh, wash our hands.”

Sincerely thrilled to report that the only vaccine hesitant kids I’ve seen have been on TV or holding signs clearly created by their parents – the minority in a province nearing a 90% fully immunized population.

If you listen to the kids they say “THIS IS NOT HARD.” Hard is letting go of the control piece. So simple, it’s child’s play.

I can tell you without hesitation that when the news cycle hits too hard, kids save my sanity. The whimsy, the laughter, the hormonal crushes, the dialed-in connection over the discord channel — even the distracted navel gazing. All of it reminds me to disconnect the noise.

Learning to live in their bubbles and cohorts took some adapting, for sure, but they have come a long way since March 2020.

Even if you don’t have kids in your world, tune them in. Find them. Escape into Calvin and Hobbes rather than surfing your social media.

Take a pass on the all but unimaginable toxic politics and extremism, groups at both ends of the spectrum who have lost the collective plot. The noise about what’s not being said/delivered or articulated to the satisfaction of the minority is exhausting. So unplug from it.

Too many grownups seem locked in a perpetual schoolyard brawl, fully entrenched in “my way or the highway,” which ironically is a dead end.

My focus group of young people tell me that of course everyone has their own level of comfort, or fear, as they navigate being social – and that’s okay. They manage this without attacking one another.

Our goal should be to return to a time when disagreeing how one manages their pandemic doesn’t lead to fractured family and friendships. To get there, remember what you learned in Kindergarten:

  1. Share everything.
  2. Play fair.
  3. Don’t hit people.
  4. Put things back where you found them.
  5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
  6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  7. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  8. Wash your hands before you eat.
  9. Flush.
  10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
  12. Take a nap every afternoon.
  13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
  14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.”

― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Let’s talk.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.