We human beings habituate very easily to new ideas and actions. Growing up, my mother taught me to grease a pan by dipping a paper towel into Crisco shortening (hydrogenated oil was not a phrase we knew) and smearing it over the pan. Years later, when I set out to bake some cookies and realized that I didn’t have any Pam, I almost aborted my effort before remembering that women managed to bake before the invention of spray oil.
In that vein, a young mother told me that she needs to tell her son to take off his mask when he is home from daycare. In his four-year-old life, wearing a mask has become a norm. He doesn’t question it; instead, he questions when he is allowed to discard it.
What else are we being led to think of as normal? I am hearing refrains of low expectations for today’s students. Having missed so much school and with so much of school taking place on ZOOM or in classrooms with masked teachers, we should expect little of today’s children. They will lose math skills, have fewer communication skills, they will be behind— maybe we should just sign them up for years of government support because they aren’t being given the tools to succeed.
What a twisted and nefarious prediction! We used to highlight stories of success for our children. Today’s educational establishment and too many parents instead highlight stories of victimization and failure. There is no quicker way to turn our children into failures than to expect them to be so.
Each and every parent has the sacred responsibility to provide a path to success for his or her children. There are true stories, not of one unusual person, but of many people who triumphed over grueling circumstances. Are we actually going to use COVID as an excuse for failure when thousands of enormously successful people came out of slavery, arrived on these shores penniless and not knowing English, spent their formative years hiding from the Nazis, or fought life-threatening and debilitating childhood illnesses?
This pandemic continues to present challenges to parents. It has also made one of the overarching conflicts of our culture even more clear. Each of us must choose to stand, and to have our children stand, in the line labeled “losers/victims” or in the line labeled, “strivers/victors.” It is absolutely a choice, not a pre-determined reality.