Beyond COVID-19: A letter from the future

“Hi Dad,

Sorry that I haven’t got in touch for a while – varsity has been kicking my butt lately! I’m getting ready for midterms and have a bunch of assignments that I still need to complete, but at least I have a few weeks of vacation back at home with you and mom to look forward to!

Anyway, I was in sociology class today and we were discussing the effects that large pandemics have on society at a macro level and communities on a micro-level. A big part of this section looks at the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember that? It hit the world hard in 2020.

I’m sure you do remember that, but I was only six, so my memories of that are pretty vague. I know there was a lockdown period when we had to stay home. Apparently, we couldn’t even go outside?

All I remember of that time is being SO happy that I didn’t have to go to school for a long time. I also remember lots of your special toasted cheese sandwiches (wow, I would love one of those right now!) and hours and hours of cricket in the front yard. In my mind, which was just an endless stream of you bowling to me over and over again. That was so great. 

Also, I distinctly remember that green plastic bat you bought for me. I loved that bat!

Did you and mom get any work done during that time? You two did have to work from home, right?

Anyway, I just have really happy memories of that lockdown, so it’s weird reading about it now and finding out what a scary time that was across the globe.

Hope you and mom are doing okay. I’ll call you guys next week!


AfroDaddy with son Liam outside shopping area

This is the email that I hope I get one day in the future. I like to imagine conversations like these because it helps me get a bit of context to current situations. I used to imagine myself talking about it a few months or years down the line, but now I find it much more fun to think about what my kids will remember when they are adults (not that they are ever not going to be my babies).

I had a conversation with another dad the other day, and he pointed out that the below a certain age, kids don’t remember specific details about an event or time. Rather, they have a distinct memory of how they felt during that time. Were they happy? Scared? Anxious? Relaxed? Bored? That feeling is what is going to be the anchor memory from this very strange time of world history.

Now, I don’t believe that this means that your task as mom or dad right now is to make sure your kids’ every waking moment is overflowing with joy and happiness. If you’re like me, you’re probably finding that just keeping them fed, clean and not completely bouncing off the walls is a mammoth task. Add to that that many of us are trying to do some sort of work from home, and it can seem that even just completing the most basic parenting tasks is a huge hurdle.

“If you’re like me, you’re probably finding that just keeping them fed, clean and not completely bouncing off the walls is a mammoth task”

Plus your kids will need structure and discipline and sleep and vegetables and screen-free time – you know, all the things that kids hate – so there will just be times when they aren’t exactly radiating joy.

That all being said, I do think that there are some things you can do that will increase the chances that your adult kids will be able to think back to this lockdown fondly. An obvious one is to do one fun activity with them each day, where you are fully engaged with being there with them. This could be something led by them or something that you planned the day before. I think that even one 15-to-30 minute activity can change the entire vibe of the day.

Another thing you can do is keep your mood and energy levels as high as possible. If I’m feeling anxious, depressed and tired, I’m much more likely to snap when my kids are being annoying or not listening. When my emotional and physical energy is high, however, I can talk to them empathetically and carefully which always has better outcomes for everyone.

Finally, even if your kids need to do some school work during the lockdown, I would endeavour to make sure that it does not feel like school. Any version of school I could create would be massively inferior to the real deal that they are used to, but I can make sure that their experience of home is the best it can be. For us, that means not having a strict schedule, but that varies from the family to family.

My hope for your kids is the same hope I have for mine: that in 15 years they can look back at this crazy time in the year 2020 and know that even though life was serious on a world stage, they were safe and happy.

afrodaddy babyyumyum influencer

AfroDaddy, a.k.a. Terence Mentor, is a place for parents, especially dads, to come together and share in the “duality of parenting” – the fact that being a parent can be fantastic, wonderful and beautiful, while simultaneously being exhausting, frustrating and awful. A husband and father to two boys born 18 months apart, AfroDaddy shares his unique view and experiences, while opening himself to new experiences, learnings and people. You can find him at AfroDaddy.