With the Covid 19 virus spreading globally all are asked to stay home and avoid public gatherings. Fortunately the weather has been clear so we can at least get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Yesterday was such a day and I took advantage by taking a nice long walk through my neighbourhood.
The first thing I noticed was the sound of childrens laughter. Behind me two young brothers pedaled on their bikes, chatting and giggling. A sure sign of spring, I mused, and I tried to recall the last time I heard the sound of children playing outside. It had been years, I realized.
As I walked on I passed a mother and her two teen aged daughters. I recognized them from a few doors down, and while I had seen one or the other on occasion, I had never seen them out together just taking a walk. They strolled along comfortably and I heard them talking and laughing. Clearly they, like me, just wanted to get out, and with stores, theatres and public gathering places closed, they had no choice but to find entertainment in each others company. It made me smile to see they were actually enjoying it. No phones, no tv, just good old fashioned conversation (with their parent no less!)
As I wound my way home I saw a neighbor out with her two young granddaughters. With day cares closed all were scrambling for child care so I presumed she was just helping out her children. The little ones were gathering sticks from the lawn and loading them into a wagon (clearly a make-work project aimed to tucker them out) while their Grandmother raked leaves. It was a sweet sight and I carried that warm feeling throughout the rest of my day, not giving it much more thought.
Later that night I found myself marveling at these sights all over again and it prompted me to consciously ask myself why. Then it dawned on me. I hadn’t seen children out ‘playing’ for a very long time. It seems over the years childrens activities changed from simple outdoor play to organized ‘play dates’ (usually indoors) and computer games. With tv, radio, and ipads occupied with news of the Coronavirus they were now forced to find entertainment in good old fashioned play. (Imagine that?) Teens no longer glued to their hand held devices were actually communicating with their families, happily. One family I know even pulled out their old board games and held a family games night. (when was the last time that happened?)
I know the Coronavirus is a serious threat but if it’s at all possible to glean something positive from it, it’s that it has forced families to spend time together. And in spending more time together we’re discovering that the simple things in life really are worth the effort. If it weren’t for the mandatory closures those teens probably wouldn’t have gone for a walk with their mother – they’d be in a mall or texting with friends. And those children playing outside would likely be indoors glued to the tv or a hand held game. Maybe one of the lessons we needed to learn in society is to make time for family. If stock markets can experience a ‘correction’, maybe society can too. Over the last 20-25 years we’ve drifted from spending quality time with our loved ones, choosing instead to isolate with our electronic friends.
Finding the road back to play, genuine play, is a good thing, in any situation. And while this frightening disease may well keep us in isolation with our families for months, it also means parents and children are home together all day, every day, giving us the rare opportunity to rekindle family time. (I believe it’s called. ‘making the best of a situation’)
My 90 year old father told me the deserted streets and mandatory confinement of this world event remind him of the 2nd world war. The only difference is today we can enjoy the company of our families safely in our own homes because the worst that can happen is that we die of boredom. (assuming we do not contract the virus…and we won’t if we all do our part and stay home)
Like everyone, I wish Covid 19 had never happened and my heart aches for those struggling with the loss a loved one to this awful disease. But for those who are only battling the isolation from public society, I urge you to take stock. We all have something to learn from this world event, and for many of us maybe that lesson is to return to family. I’m seeing the positive changes in families already. Could it be that from something so very bad, we’re finding something very good? I’d like to think so. I’m just sorry it took a global pandemic to put us on the path home.