After hearing from my 10-year-old daughter, it’s now time to hear from my 13-year-old son. My kids are in hybrid school, and for my 8th grader, this means he goes to school in person two full days a week, with 3 days of distance learning at home. We are managing it as well as I think we can expect. However, my son brings up a small wrinkle in regards to the “return to normal” to which we are all looking forward. It is going to be challenging for us to go back to our prior pace and there will be new struggles along the way. Be sure to listen to the end to hear my son’s tips for parents on how to talk to their kids.
[Music: IBD Dance Party]
Amber Tresca 0:05 I’m Amber Tresca. And this is About IBD. It’s my mission to educate people living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis about their disease, and to bring awareness to the patient journey.
Welcome to Episode 82. On the last episode, you heard from my 10-year-old daughter about what it’s like to go to school in the pandemic, what she’s looking forward to doing in the future, and her tips for kids on talking to their parents.
Now, it’s time to hear from my 13-year-old son. He is in hybrid school, which means he goes to school in person two full days a week, with 3 days of distance learning at home. There have been ups and downs with school overall but we are managing as well as well can.
What strikes me sometimes now is how much we were doing before the pandemic. School and work all day and then activities at night and on the weekends. I was traveling at least once a month and usually more. Now it has been 9 months of remote activities and only part-time in-person school for months.
It was illuminating to discuss these issues with my son. It clear that we need to have more of these discussions, outside of a recording session, although I think both of my kids would be happy to record every day. But it is also apparent that the “return to normal” most of us are looking forward to is also going to have challenges for kids.
Be sure to listen to the end to hear my son’s tips for parents on how to talk to their kids.
Amber Tresca 1:37
So welcome back to my show. It’s been a little while.
Yes it has.
Amber Tresca 1:42
Why don’t you tell me what you’re reading right now?
Right now? Well, I am reading I’m reading the third Hunger Games book. I don’t exactly remember what it’s called. But it’s it’s a lot about Katniss, trying to overthrow the Capitol. Right. And they gather a new army of I won’t say who, but interesting people. And they, they take they have a long, they have lots of time, well, they actually they don’t, they use lots of time to get themselves farther, where they need to be.
Amber Tresca 2:26
I wanted to ask you some things about how you think things are going during the pandemic. And so I wonder if you would tell me what it has been like to be at school and what your school schedule is.
My school schedule is very interesting. I partly stay in school some days, and I stay at home other days. However, we are doing like Google meets in that sort of thing to meet with each other, which they are now going to start doing every day. And originally it was just one day. So no matter what I’m going to be seeing my teachers faces somewhere, either in person or over a call. Which is really interesting.
Amber Tresca 3:20
Why do you say it’s interesting?
It’s interesting, because I think that it’s not, we don’t really use them use the Google Meets for a lot. Um, they aren’t… lots of them are just to say hi, hello, which I think is a great idea. I think it’s always great to be checking in on students, I think, especially for younger ones who are teenagers, their mental, mental health not, might not be as great. So I think that is, that is an awesome idea. But I do feel like it is a little time consuming as we don’t we’re not really receiving extra instruction, necessarily. So I think that they’re nice, but I feel they could probably be shortened or something else could be done to be more efficient, which. But honestly, the way is, I think it is a really, I think it is chugging along fairly well.
Amber Tresca 4:25
Do you think that some of the kids in your class- Well, first of all, what grade are you in?
I’m in eighth grade.
Amber Tresca 4:32
And how old are you?
13-year-old 4:33 I am 13.
Amber Tresca 4:35
And how do you think that other kids are dealing with the pandemic and maybe not being around their friends as much as you would be as a as a 13 year old? When I was 13 years old, we were pretty much just together constantly or we were on the phone.
Well, everybody seems to be pretty happy, though. I I do know that This may be a mask, because a lot of people probably aren’t feeling the best. But once they’re in school, that effect is worn off or the, they just want to look happy or whatever. So I haven’t seen anyone in particular anybody at all necessarily. That is that looks bad or feels bad or is saying something about it. So I think they’re, I do know people are struggling, because they will say like, they won’t be sad, but they’ll say like, Oh, I didn’t, I can’t do soccer anymore. But they won’t be necessarily just down about it constantly.
Amber Tresca 5:38
Do you think that kids are mostly missing out on their extracurriculars?
No, actually, I know lots of people are still going to whatever games, and places not, not places, but like games, like, there are a couple girls that do soccer. I think there’s some guys that do baseball. There’s so many sports kids in my grade. But I do think that they haven’t really stopped. It’s kind of just been larger hurdles.
Amber Tresca 6:11
And how has it been? With all of the things that you have to do in order to keep students and teachers safe with the mask wearing and staying distanced? and washing hands or using hand sanitizer? How was that to get used to? And how do you think all of that is, is going now that we’re a couple of months into school?
I think that having the responsibility of wearing a mask first, being trusted not to talk to your peers while you’re in the hallway, or something, which never works out, obviously. And socially distancing also doesn’t work. Um, I do think that it is sort of a burden to put on people our age, but I don’t think we really have a choice. And I think it is a good thing that we should get used to something like this. And if there’s somehow a worse situation, than the pandemic we are in, we will, we will know sort of, but altogether, I think it is a little, I think it is fairly difficult, trying to keep everyone safe. But I do think that some people will feel better about it, because they know that if I, if I don’t, if I wear a mask, if I socially distance, so if I don’t talk to you, or whatever. Um, if I use hand sanitizer, and I take care of myself, including the mask the social distancing, I’m also taking care of you. And this gives me the feeling that if I have or don’t have COVID-19, I am therefore not passing it on to you, which I think is, think it’s a great thing to know that you’re not passing a disease onto another person.
Amber Tresca 8:07
Especially in this sort of time where you have to take very intense precautions to keep yourself and others safe.
Amber Tresca 8:17
Are you worried about developing COVID?
No, I am not worried about developing COVID. But I would not like it. I don’t want to get COVID but if I did get COVID I would not start freaking out. Because if I do have COVID all since I try my best to socially distance and wear my mask and use hand sanitizer and wash my hands and all that stuff. I feel that I probably shouldn’t have passed it on to anybody. And if I just self quarantine, it’ll wear off and I’ll be okay. Also knowing that I have a 13 year olds immune, healthy immune system. I think I should be fairly okay with battling it. So I’m not necessarily concerned for my safety that is, but I do think that it is not it is not definitely not a good thing.
Amber Tresca 9:21
Yeah, I would agree. Are you at all worried about my getting COVID or your dad or your sister?
Um, I am worried about that a little bit because I know that your, your immune system and my father’s immune system might not be the same as mine. And it may be a little, may be a little weaker, maybe a little, have a different way of handling things. And I think also I think you might be a little weaker in terms of fighting COVID-19 so that is where I do have concerns. I trust that I will be safe. But um, I’m not super sure about you guys. So that, that is the thing I worry about for COVID-19.
Amber Tresca 10:12
What are some of the things that you’re missing? Right now, during this time having given that our family is probably being a little more strict about being physically distant and staying home and not doing a lot of outside things?
Um, well, first of all, I think being a little stricter is a good thing. But what I do miss is being with my friends in person, because I think definitely being… there is a specific barrier that you cannot receive through, like, texting other people or being on a call, even with video. Um, there is a certain barrier of like, it just doesn’t feel the same. It’s like, and also people, the communication will seem different. And people will not be saying saying the same things or acting the same way, because they’re not in person. Not saying that people, people feel like they can be better or meaner or necessarily something like that. If they’re speaking through text, but I do mean, like, they will just act differently. And we are we all are having a bit of a difficult time with that.
Amber Tresca 11:48
What do you think it will be like, to go back to school full time again,
I think that even though it was perceived as such a normal thing before, I think now it is almost virtually impossible. Like, if just one day COVID all went away, with just wiped from the face of the earth and nobody had to do anything anymore. And we immediately, like, switch back to full time school every day, you were in there, three, two, not three, eight to three, I think that people are used to being at home, you can relax, you are not constantly under the supervision of adults in with your peers, which sometimes for some people can be a little unnerving. But, um, it has its pros and its cons.
Some of the good things is that we will receive additional instruction to what we’re having right now. Which means like, we won’t have anything to do on our own. And I know this is coming from a person who is not great at using his time, right? I don’t have to, I don’t have to do that. I just walk from class to class, and we do the things in each class. However, I do think that we will be expected to do better. And I think even with, even if they would put a transition as we would have the same work that we have now, even though we’re now in complete full person with no, no masks, no whatever. Assuming this would happen.
I think it’s almost like the line between temporary and permanent of a learning curve or like slope or mountain. I have no idea. It depends. It depends on who you are. There’s lots of people who want to go back to school. There’s lots of people who don’t want to say they want to go back to school, but they want to go back to school. There’s some people who don’t want to go back to school. It really, it’s, it’s, it’s all depends.
Amber Tresca 14:09
It’s kind of bonkers to think about now. And sometimes I’m like, okay, you have school tomorrow. Remember, you used to go to school, every day.
Oh my gosh.
Amber Tresca 14:17
And then not only that, but most nights we had an activity of some kind. So you’d come home from school, have a short breather to finish homework, have a snack, and then we would be out again, doing whatever we were doing.
Yeah. Um, I think just like, even if we were to get rid of this learning curve, slope, mountain, whatever. It would never be the same knowing that there was a time where you could do all this stuff. There was a time you could do none of this stuff. There was a time when you could do some of this stuff. And now you can do it again.
The even though it seems like everybody would just want to go back. what’s what’s the deal? Why would it Why would anybody not be So happy. It’s that like, look, everybody’s used to COVID-19. Because everybody has been through it long enough to know what to do. I think everybody’s used to being in the pandemic, everybody’s used to not going to school. Everybody’s been in a coat-like permanent, temporary, sort of, like stage of relaxation. And I think that there’s lots of things that need to be, like, forced upon people to get, get back up, get back, up and running. So I think that’ll be very difficult.
Amber Tresca 15:45
It almost seems like we had a frenetic pace before.
I think we did.
Amber Tresca 15:53
Yeah. When we can safely go back out into the world and do activities again. What do you think the first thing is that you’re going to want to do?
I’m going to rally up all of my friends. And we’re going to go to a probably not very healthy, fast food restaurant like McDonald’s, and we’re going to eat way too much. Go back home, yell at each other about it and have a have a nice night.
Amber Tresca 16:20
*laughing* That’s pretty simple and very specific.
[Tips for Parents to Talk to Their Kids]
Parents and kids might have a hard time communicating at times. But there are things that parents can do to help their kids feel more like opening up. On the last episode, you heard my sister’s tips for kids on how to talk to their parents. Now, here are my tips on how parents can talk to their kids.
Tip number one. Pick a good time to talk. Finding time to talk is tough these days. You’ll want to choose a time when everyone feels relaxed and not too stressed or upset.
Tip number two. Bring up the topic gently. Kids might feel more comfortable if you don’t make too big a deal out of it. You don’t want to make them feel as though talking is a chore or something they have to do, like homework.
Tip number three. Ask open-ended questions. Kids might prefer that you not ask anything too specific about the pandemic. It might be easier to ask something like “who had an interesting mask today?” or “what do you think tomorrow will be like?”
Tip number four. Try to talk one-on-one. It might be easier for kids if you can find some time to talk with them alone. They might be more comfortable that way.
Tip number five. Take your cues from the kids. If your kids seem like they’re not interested in talking, you might need to pick another time. Don’t give up but maybe try on another day or at another time. Remember to really listen to what your kids are saying to you, and to take their point of view seriously. Something that might not seem like a big deal to you may be a very big deal to them.
[Music: IBD Dance Party]
Amber Tresca 18:09
Hey, super listener! Special thanks this week goes to my son for sitting down with me to talk about the pandemic and for helping me write some tips for parents on talking to their kids.
He brought up some really good points. When we say we want things to go back to normal I think what we mean is that we’d like to stop having to make calculations about risk every time we want to do something. I also think that we’re all going to need a recovery period because we can’t go from where we are now straight into our pre-pandemic lives. We are going to need to make some adjustments and ease back into things, especially those of us who are strongly affected by physical and emotional stress. And I think that is probably a good topic for another show.
My son doesn’t have social media handles for you to follow him but he asks that you do something different this week instead. Reach out to someone you haven’t heard from in a while. Check in with them and find out how they’re managing.
I, however, am on social media and you can find me across all platforms as @aboutIBD and on my web site at aboutIBD.com.
Thanks for listening, and remember, until next time, I want you to know more about IBD.
Amber Tresca 16:34
You got it out of your system?
There was a pause.
Amber Tresca 19:59
It’s a slight pause.