As we look to find joy or silver linings throughout this Covid-19 pandemic, our family has been blessed with another special blessing: grandparents with knowledge, wisdom, fun and love to give. When a couple days off from school in March became a couple of weeks, which then became the biggest question mark known to us, our family realized an obvious and wonderful connection. Kids at home needed to learn and socialize; the retired adults in our lives had gifts of knowledge, joy and love to give.
Enter “Zoom”, and what we dubbed “Grand Lessons.” Each week, we had a scheduled Zoom meeting with either my father, my mother, or my aunt (all retired teachers). My father began his lessons with jokes or a silly mask to elicit laughs, and then taught art skills and performed science demonstrations. My aunt’s lessons were more unit-like and often based on making connections to nature. She also included fun “assignments” to complete during the week. Sometimes, any one of the “Grands” would simply read the kids a book – or the kids would practice reading on their own. Once, Grammy did a virtual baking project – each household baking a dish separately but simultaneously. Our kids looked forward to these lessons because they could not visit in person. We parents felt assured that the kids were benefitting from a more relevant, thoughtful, and creative aspect to their formal distance learning.
It wasn’t until recently that I learned that several families in our neighborhood had also tapped into the community of retired educators and others with much to give but no outlet. Their kids, like ours, also have benefitted from a wide variety of interesting, skill-building, worldly lessons, as well as from the interpersonal connection with an elder – whether a close family member or the grandmother of a friend’s friend.
The important thing to realize is this: we would not have made these connections had it not been for the Covid-19 pandemic. Through this hardship, we have persevered to make whatever lemonade we could from the lemons. And it causes me to think: what other relationships, connections, deeper meanings might we have created, or will we one day create, regardless of hardship? Why did we not think to Zoom with our family across the country this often before Covid-19? Were we so ”busy,” heavily scheduled, professionally pressured, or plain distracted that we shrugged off any notion of even a quick phone call, let alone truly making space in our lives for the things and people that mattered? I hope that this lesson sticks.
Although this experience was not in the least unique, we felt and will always feel that it has added a meaningful dimension to our lives, deepening the relationship between our family members. We hope that our “Grands” feel as satisfied and blessed as we do.