Our Teenage Granddaughter’s Award Winning Poem Brought Back the Reality that Being a Teenager is Hard Anytime, Harder During A Global Pandemic, and We Grandparents Can Make It Easier Now and in the Future

During the COVID-19 coronavirus lock down period in March and April, 2020, I interviewed our older grandchildren, two aged 13 and one aged 16. We videotaped these interviews to be opened in ten years. At that time, the children were abruptly removed from school and quarantined with all of us.  See blog post, What Will Our Grandchildren Remember About Living Through The Coronavirus Pandemic COVID-19 and How To Memorialize their Memories With Them and For Them .

Then in December 2020, when I honestly did not anticipate the length and severity of this pandemic, I interviewed them again.  See blog post, School Mask Breaks And Other 2020 COVID-19 Experiences Our Grandchildren Should Preserve For Their Children and Grandchildren, Sample Questions for Videotaping Them and How To Do It.

It is hard to believe that we, in April 2022, are in the third year of the COVID global pandemic, and we have gone through the Delta and Omicron variants, and are seeing the uptick of the new Omicron BA.2 sub variant. If you have not yet interviewed your grandchildren and preserved their memories of this time in history, and are interested in doing so, the previous blogs will assist with lists of questions and practical advice.

A few weeks ago, our soon to be sixteen year old granddaughter wrote a poem that has become the impetus of this third blog post on the experiences of our grandchildren during Covid and what it means now, beginning our third year of the pandemic.  Of course, this Grandma thinks she is brilliant and talented.  Her poem won a county wide award in her home town.

Before

Before I would do a full face of makeup,

Now I only put mascara on.

Before I would stand where I wanted to,

Now I stand on two outlined feet.

Before I would walk through two glass doors and be welcomed by my teachers,

Now I tap a blue camera and I’m instantly in class.

Before I went out to dinner with my family,

Now we eat out of plastic containers left on our doorstep.

Before I never thought about my senses,

Now I treasure my taste and smell.

Before I could try clothes on to see if they fit,

Now I guess my size, and wait 5-10 business days for clothes to arrive, and pray they fit.

Before I thought I’d have a driver’s license,

Now I have a vax card.

Before I hugged and held my grandparents,

Now I write them and talk to them through screen doors.

Before we were innocent,

Now we are scared.

Before I was surrounded,

Now I am isolated.

Before I looked around,

Now I look within.

Before I never knew silver linings,

Now I collect them.

Before I never appreciated before,

Now I will.

Intending to interview our granddaughter about the poem, I looked up studies and research on the effects of this period of COVID on teenagers.  It is all gloom and doom, the “isolated” and “scared” in her poem.  Social media use is up and has helped teens. But there is a worry for teens’ mental health due to COVID pandemic, school closings, stress and isolation. 

Yes, teenagers still have the typical teenage angst of growing up. See, “The Teenage Years: 10 Struggles Only a Teenager Understands.”

However, COVID and the coronavirus epidemic takes center stage.  I interviewed Emily about the poem, and her comments included before the pandemic things felt more different, the abnormal now feels normal, and she really can’t remember except things that changed.  This is not surprising when three years ago she was just thirteen and now she is sixteen, a dramatic difference.

I reread our granddaughter’s poem and wish I could wipe her concerns away.  We grandparents cannot, but we can help our teenage grandchildren.  This Grandma loved an article on raising teens, “Shoulder to Shoulder Parenting: Why It’s the Best Way to Parent Teenagers,” which included parenting advice, but four mantras that we grandparents, who I think mostly automatically do this, can adopt even if we don’t, to be there for our grandchildren during this crisis, their teen years and beyond:

“Shoulder to shoulder, my [grand]kids know I’m here for them.”

“Shoulder to shoulder, they know they can lean on me for advice, guidance, understanding and a pep talk when life gets hard.”

“Shoulder to shoulder, they know they can come to me when they’ve made a mistake, made a poor decision or screwed up royally.”

“Shoulder to shoulder, they know I’m their biggest cheerleader, their confidante, the one who will always have their back and the one who loves them unconditionally.”

How wonderful to be able to share the lives of our teenage grandchildren. . . .and be there for them

With Joy,

Mema

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