Grandparenting: Anticipating March 11 – Harvard Well being Weblog

March eleventh, 2020 — or was it March twelfth, or just a few days earlier than or past that? Every of us has a date and time etched in our minds once we knew that the COVID-19 pandemic was upon us. Now, the anniversary of that date is quick approaching. What, if something, will we do to mark it? And the way will we convey our ideas and emotions about this milestone to our grandchildren?

Anybody who has reached grandparenthood has collected anniversaries alongside the way in which. There are anniversaries of joyful events, and ones that function painful reminders of loss. There are the private anniversaries — the births and deaths of family members — and public ones, together with 9/11, the moon touchdown, and (for these of us in our mid-60s and older) the deaths of JFK, RFK, and MLK. For many people, the upcoming anniversary of the pandemic has parts of loss and triumph that really feel each deeply private and assuredly communal.

How has the pandemic affected your relationship as a grandparent?

Many grandparents have been unable to see their grandchildren up shut and private. Others have been extra lucky, spending time with grandchildren from the beginning, besides this time has been punctuated by COVID concern and COVID scares. Nobody has been with out challenges. Nonetheless, many grandparents discover themselves trying again not solely on loss, stress, and frustration, however on creativity, resourcefulness, discovery. Who would have imagined final March eleventh — the very day the World Well being Group acknowledged the pandemic — that we’d be having automobile parade birthday events, Thanksgiving dinner in our garages, and taking part in board video games and extra over Zoom?

Why — and the way — you would possibly wish to mark this anniversary along with your grandchildren

I’ve been pondering quite a bit about why and the way grandparents would possibly wish to mark March eleventh with their grandchildren. Marking this time with our grandchildren can assist them make sense of what they’ve been by way of. Years from now after they look again on the pandemic, they might cherish reminiscences of the methods wherein their grandparents had been their fellow vacationers.

Ask easy questions to assist seize these ideas. What upset? What felt unhappy? Have been there sudden presents and moments of pleasure? Was there something you actually wished you can do, however couldn’t — and something you efficiently did, although maybe in another way than within the Earlier than Instances? As we strategy the anniversary of the day when a lot modified for all of us, contemplate these questions and extra concepts that will help you replicate again on this yr along with your grandchildren.

Younger kids, ages 3 to 7

Younger kids could not grasp the extent of loss that the pandemic has introduced, nor what it means to create rituals. However they do perceive birthdays and holidays. It might be finest to maintain it gentle, approaching March eleventh not from a perspective of loss and ache, however utilizing it as a time to have fun what they — and also you — have completed. They might have realized to put on masks, research on-line, and dwell with the lack of actions they actually get pleasure from and worth. One thing so simple as a cake with a masks manufactured from frosting, or a “pandemic birthday” dinner wherein you may have pizza or one other favourite meals delivered, can talk to younger kids that this unusual time had a starting and can — in some unspecified time in the future — have an finish.

Older youngsters, ages 7 to 12

Your elementary and center college grandchildren are sufficiently old to recollect March 11, 2020, and the modifications that got here to their lives within the days, weeks, and months that adopted. They’ll recall the sense that many adults had to start with — that the disruptions in our lives would final just a few months, after which we’d return to regular. As a substitute, a brand new regular of masks sporting and extra social distancing unfolded. These kids bore witness to those modifications and took part in them. For this age group, March eleventh has actual significance: life as they knew it modified. Relying on how inventive they — and also you — are, you might wish to interact them in making a collage of the yr. Assuming you aren’t in a position to do that collectively in particular person, the very act of making a collage through FaceTime or Zoom will assist make this undertaking a becoming memorial to the yr.


Youngsters get it. The pandemic has upended their lives in so some ways. Touchstones of adolescence have been dramatically altered or briefly placed on maintain: proms, school excursions, graduations. Faculty performs and live shows have been pushed to the facet. Spiritual observances and celebrations, akin to bar and bat mitzvahs, have moved to Zoom. For a lot of, classroom studying has been interrupted at a time after they had been most absolutely engaged. They’ve certainly skilled loss throughout the pandemic. Making a ceremony or ritual along with your teen grandchildren could assist them make a spot for the pandemic within the historical past of their lives. In so doing, it might provide reassurance that this time will go. Allow them to take the lead on what this ritual or ceremony will seem like. Maybe you may help them by sharing your reminiscences of a few of the complicated occasions you lived by way of, together with the Vietnam warfare and the aftermath of 9/11.

As March 11, 2021 approaches, the pandemic is way from over. Nevertheless, vaccines provide all of us hope that life will look very completely different by March 11, 2022. This information holds promise and a chance to strategy the anniversary of the pandemic with curiosity and creativity, seeing it not solely as a painful reminder of all that we’ve misplaced, but additionally as a time of resourcefulness and resilience.

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