“Mom, I’m bored. Mom, what can I do? Mom, can I please go see my friends?” These are statements that can be heard at my house every single day, usually many times! The effect of the COVID-19 virus can be seen everywhere, and by everyone. Many parents are working from home, kids are out of school (many bored, like me) and trying to learn online for the first time in their lives, and medical workers are on the clock nonstop. This is how I am coping and how my learning, my job, and my social interactions are all being affected.
Learning has changed, dramatically. Students across the country have converted to distance learning. Class via Zoom meetings, homework and tests online, and attendance surveys all completed virtually. The transition to distance learning has been both very easy and utterly difficult, but I am starting to get things figured out more and more each day. I’m surprised to say I would actually much rather GO to school. Those are words I never thought I would hear myself say. I miss seeing my friends in the halls to catch up on their days, joking around with the teachers, and most of all I miss the lunchroom conversations!
Since I am considered “unessential” in my retail clothing job, I am not working during the pandemic. This means I am broke. Before the pandemic I was working enough each week and felt like I always had money to spend. After being furloughed I started looking for new ways to make money. Since I am a sixteen-year-old boy and fast food is still available, it is essential to have spending money. Thankfully we started to see spring weather and I was able to start working with my grandpa on the family farm. I am finding that I actually really enjoy spending time with my grandpa and all the wisdom he has to share. The ability to slow down and spend this quality time with him is an amazing benefit of the current crisis.
Like most sixteen-year-olds, hanging out with friends is usually my top priority. COVID-19 has drastically changed how we hang out. Gone are the days of dozens of friends crowded into a basement, dinners out, and pick-up football games. We don’t pass in the halls at school and catch up quick or hang out in the commons after school, working on homework. Due to the restrictions my interactions with friends are limited to FaceTime and the occasional appropriately distanced meet-up. Technology has been critical during this time—imagine a time without FaceTime or online Playstation games. These technology “tools” are my current daily interactions with my friends and I am grateful to have the ability to connect through them. Beyond this, I have spent my time “hanging out” with my grandpa. Working on the farm, helping him with projects, and developing my mean cribbage skills are ways I now pass my time. How things have changed.
At the end of the day the current crisis is just that, a crisis. Daily life has changed in ways we could never imagine and will probably continue to change in ways we still can’t imagine. I am enjoying learning at home, but miss my friends. We are all looking for new ways to interact while being socially responsible. We have turned to technology to hang out and have standing online video game dates. This is our new normal. I continue to look to the positives. First, we have the technology to continue to see each other and socialize. We have the ability to continue to learn from our homes and our teachers can teach from their homes. Finally, I have gained some precious time with my grandpa and experiences that I would not have chosen in normal times. These times build memories that I will have forever and are what I will take away from this pandemic.
Share your own story here. Sharing stories is a powerful way to connect with other people. Be part of the Teen Health & Wellness Personal Story Project—like Tyler did above—and share your story about successfully dealing with or overcoming a challenge.