“The sun will rise again. The only uncertainty is whether or not we will rise to greet it.”
– Richard Paul Evans
Uncertainty has always been one of my biggest fears. For as long as I can remember the unknown has scared the hell out of me. The what ifs, when, how, and where have often filled me with dread. Now, I understand that there are certain things over which I have no control, such as when and how I will die, and even then there is some level of certainty – we are all going to die one day. But losing control over the things I should have control of is always a nightmare for me.
Ever since the existence of the novel coronavirus was made public I have been following its progress. Tracking its journey from Wuhan, China to Europe, from the US to the Middle East, Australia to the Caribbean, and pretty much almost everywhere else. The fear, panic, sickness, deaths, heartache and damage it has left in its wake, all the information and misinformation about it is all surreal. But what petrifies me the most is the uncertainty of covid19 and the fact that it’s far from over.
“We don’t have a script right now, and we don’t know how the coronavirus/covid19 scene is going to end. People are speculating and trying to compare our current situation to World War II, 9/11, or the Spanish Flu pandemic, but the reality is that we’re working without a script here,” an article in psychologytoday.com sums it up nicely.
The uncertainty of its fluidity and of when scientists will come up with a vaccine for it. Will I, my family, relatives or friends become infected with the virus? Will we survive it? When will my son and I be able to go to the mall to shop or to watch a movie? When will we be able to attend family event to eat, drink, embrace and kiss our loved ones as we are accustomed doing? When will we be able to sit in a restaurant and chat over a delicious meal that was not cooked by me? When will I be able to have coffee, brunch or lunch dates with my friends? When will I be able to go to the office whenever I feel like it to hobnob with my colleagues, and when will he be able to return to school to interact with his teachers and friends?
I have to say, though, that the latter bothers me the most. We follow the safety protocols so the odds of us becoming infected are not great, and in time we will be able to socialise again. But while my 11-year-old has a number of gadgets and devices; arts and craft supplies; numerous books; a variety of games and toys; a bike and skateboard; TVs and unlimited internet access; Netflix and cable TV services; and a backyard with his personal heap of sand under which a number of treasures are buried, he pines for interaction with other children. He craves the ability to be able to interact with people other than his parents.
When my child who sometimes threw fits when he had to attend after-school lessons in preparation for the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam initially carded for April 2 can tell me, “I wish I can go to lessons to see my friends. Not online, in person,” I know he’s at his wits’ end. I know the fact that this was supposed to be his “free” time after the exam is affecting the way he views the short-term future.
Initially, the premature closure of school a couple of weeks before the end of the last term was a source of great joy for him. That, followed by online classes, was a dream come true for my little member of the tech generation. Now, a little over a month later, not so much. From the day after the SEA date had passed with no new set date for the exam, his excitement began a dwindle. “This was supposed to be over yesterday,” he lamented on April 3 as he was preparing to meet his friends and his teacher online for a scheduled class, and my heart ached for him.
Now that the exam has been put off until maybe October if school reopens in September, as announced by Education Minister Anthony Garcia at a press briefing last Tuesday, let’s just say the mood in our home has taken somewhat of a nosedive, and the glass-half-full perspective that he has extra time to prepare is of no solace to us right now. We know the postponement of the exam is all part of the #stayhome initiative necessary to stop the spread of the virus, but that knowledge is somehow not comforting at this time.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, at Thursday’s post Cabinet press conference hinted that if it is at all possible for the exam to take place sooner, it will. That was promising but did not help much with the downward spiral. “Your perspective is the most powerful thing you can control in a situation that is beyond your control,” another article in psychologytoday.com advised. But at that point I just wished my son and I could just eat a delicious meal, take a shower, change into our favourite pajamas and go to sleep on a huge, clean bed, in an airy, quiet, cool room and wake up very early on the morning of the SEA exam, whether in October or earlier, head to the venue of the exam and get it over with.
And although I know, especially for him, I’m supposed to be doing the things that are reputed to help during times of uncertainty – stay positive; control what I can and embrace that which I can’t control; focus only on what matters; just breathe; remain calm; reduce anxiety and stress levels; shift my attention – I’m not ashamed to admit I’m cracking. Not huge, visible cracks, but they’re there.
And there is yet another uncertainty. I’m not certain if, for him, I should patch up the cracks as best as I can and avoid transferring my fear of uncertainty to my already confused son, or if I should keep the lines of communication open and let him know exactly what is going on. This is one time I wish being a parent came with a manual or that I had someone to tell me exactly how to handle this conundrum in which I’ve found myself. I know the answers will come – they always do. Sometimes in the form of professional advice, sometimes from research, or, pretty often, from the very person I seek these answers for.
Meanwhile, there are two things of which I’m certain. Firstly, my child will not undergo any more SEA pressure. Tomorrow he will begin the virtual school term with his teacher just to ensure he retains what he has learned over the years, but there will be no extra lessons. Once his online classes are over he gets to do things he enjoys doing for the remainder of the day. And secondly, I know I’m not alone in this as there are other parents out there struggling to find answers in these uncertain times.