It was the hottest day of the year (of course), we had shades drawn to keep the heat out and fans going (having central AC is uncommon in our part of the country so this is how we typically try to make it through warm days). We thought we were going to make it through the day successfully keeping the temperature inside the house down until the power went out mid-afternoon.
COVID-19 has already made it challenging for our kids to entertain themselves with so much free time during the summer. The heat was keeping them from going outside. The power going out felt like adding insult to injury.
At first my boys were hopeful it was just a blip and the electricity would be back on soon. Screen withdrawal started setting in once they realized it was going to be a while before power was restored. After they accepted this, instead of complaining they started to strategize around what they could do together to beat boredom. Normally they do their own thing, but the outage gave (forced?) them an opportunity to come together. It was fun to see what they came up with to kill time. One activity took them into my older son’s closet. His closest has extra storage space and I had stored some old college memorabilia there and had completely forgotten about it. My sons walked out with some artifacts from my college days asking “what is this?” It was a decorated sorority paddle. I have no idea why I ever decorated a paddle, much less kept it. The kids thought it was hilarious. They asked, “did you hit each other with this?” Oh my goodness. I doubled over in laughter. “No!,” I explained, “ it was just something we did…bought a paddle and decorated it.” Just saying it out loud made the idea seem ridiculous.
The power outage could have been one more bummer happening during the pandemic, but it turned out to bring us together in yet one more new way. Us laughing together was the best part. I’m also aware I’ll now have to make some time and clean out what I’m storing in my son’s closet. 😊
How are you and your child handling curveballs, like power outages, you’re experiencing during COVID-19?
My oldest is nine. He is starting to want to branch out and watch TV programs on channels other than Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network. He understand that the ratings on a TV show are a good guide to help him understand if my husband and I will be okay with him watching it’s content. He asked me to sit with him while he watched a show about the history or legends of strange places. I wasn’t keen on him watching the show, as I felt it could be confusing and potentially give him nightmares, but knew that I couldn’t shield him from such show forever. I sat down with him and proceeded to watch the show.
Part of the episode included a gangster getting killed by other gangsters who were trying to free him. The show did a good job of showing minimal carnage, but you got the idea of what happened: there were Tommy guns, and spatters of blood with people lying on the ground. I told my son we needed to find something else to watch. Later that night after my son had gone to bed, he got up and told me he couldn’t sleep. I knew this would happen, I thought, ugh! I told him to sit down and talk to me about what was keeping him awake. “I can’t get the image out of my head. I keep thinking someone is going to come out of nowhere and shoot me,” he shared. My first attempt to make him feel better was based on facts: gangsters are something we mainly see on TV, not in real life. I proceeded to detail when gangsters were at their height and why gangsters were dangerous. He thought about this for a minute and said, “Thanks, but that doesn’t really help.” Okay, what else can I try? I thought about the technique I use when I get scary images in my head, I try to turn them into something less threatening or scary. I try to turn them into something silly or ridiculous. It’s hard to be afraid when the image makes you smile or laugh. I shared my idea with my son, “what if we could make what’s scary you into something funny?” He smiled at the thought. I said, “What if instead of bullets coming out of the gun, tickets, like you win at the Family Fun Center, came out of the gun; and it made a ding-ding-ding sound instead of a bang-bang-bang sound?” I had him now, he was grinning from ear to ear. “Or what if, instead of pulling a gun out of his coat, he pulled out a butterfly?” my son added with a laugh. “I love it! That’s really good,” I said. I could tell my son was feeling better and had a strategy that was helping him.
It turned out the TV show provided an opportunity to connect with my son and allowed me to give him a tool he could use; it felt good.
How have you helped your child work through a nightmare? What unexpected places provided an opportunity for you to teach, or connect with, your child?
My youngest son has his own special language. This language appears only when he is being silly, or trying to be silly. When he is deep into speaking his special gibberish, we’ll ask, “are you speaking English or are you speaking something else?” To which, we’ll smile and say in a mumbled voice with a big sly smile on his face, “something else.”
During a recent episode of him using this special language, he decided to change Lightning McQueen’s catchphrase from “Ka-Chow” to “Ka-Pow” followed by other words that rhyme with the “ow” sound. I decided to get into the mix and offered up “Ka-Meow.” I added in the sound effects of a cat meowing when I said it to my son. He burst into laughter as if he’d heard the funniest thing ever. We both did different variations of “Ka-Meow” for several minutes and laughed really hard. Saying “Ka-meow” has become an instant way for us to make each other laugh.
Being a parent is serious work. There is so much to get done, so much we are working to juggle, and so much we are trying to get right. It can be easy to get caught up in the seriousness of it all and forget to enjoy it. I like a good laugh, but love connecting with my children in a way that shows Mom can be silly too. That Mom enjoys life and Mom enjoys being a parent.
What makes you and your child laugh? How are you showing your child you enjoy life and enjoy raising them?