By JENNIFER STEUER
I don’t know one single person who hasn’t been affected by Covid-19 and the need to self-quarantine. This is one of the strangest, most unsettling and deadly times that I can remember. The jokes and memes about drinking, homeschooling, work meetings with no pants on and the great toilet paper shortage have been making the rounds. As well as conspiracy theories and the belief that Armageddon is upon us. The predictions and uncertainty are frightening. Adults are anxious. Children – my children – are scared. Harlan, my mom and I are doing all that we can to have a safe environment where we all feel protected.
Rebecca, Benjamin and Olivia went to school on March 13 and came home like it was any other Friday. Thoughts of fun and relaxing came before anything else. Harlan and I were home thinking about the health crisis that was brewing and talking about keeping the kids home. Before the kids walked home, we had decided to keep them out of school until the Covid-19 crisis blew over. We worried that convincing the school it was the right decision would be hard. And then just like that, Gov. Andrew Cuomo waved his magic wand and it was decided: Schools were closed.
The mad scramble to find computers and technical support for the school district families started in earnest. Teachers stopped on a dime and thought of new ways to present information to students and hoping the kids would be able to keep up. Some teachers have contacted my family to be sure my kids understand. The school is encouraging families to keep up, but they understand this is a situation none of us knows how to navigate.
I have heard from parents who do homeschool that this situation is not actually homeschooling. What we are doing right now is crisis schooling. Homeschooling is done with lots of research and resources. Homeschooling is desired by the families. Crisis schooling is what happens when a disease is ravaging your country/state/city/school.
All of a sudden the world is upside down. Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca are struggling to find their individual footing and supporting friends. Being social creatures, we seek to find comfort with our peers. Twelve-year-olds are no different. Smart phones and computers help my kids stay in touch with their friends, and seeing that there is a world moving beyond our windows helps all of us.
In my heart, I have to believe that we will get through this health crisis. I see Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca growing each day, and each day they are more creative and their imaginations are tapped in new ways. My family is doing everything it can to stay healthy and safe. I hope your family is too. We will meet you at the park when this is all over.
Jennifer Steuer is an Albany mom whose busy household includes her husband, Harlan, and 12-year-old triplets Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca. Follow her on Instagram: jennifersteuer.
In his own words: Benjamin Steuer
A pandemic is tough enough – now add Tourette’s
These days, there is probably more on your mind than just the disorders or disabilities that you have, but if you take into account what authorities are advising you to do at this time, you might change your mind.
I am a 12-year-old boy in the sixth grade. It can be very rough in school for I am a target of bullying for my lack of athleticism. That doesn’t stop me from doing great in school and making the Gold honor roll, but that’s not what I want to talk to you about now. I want to talk about the Coronavirus pandemic and how it affects me and hundreds of thousands of other children with the same condition as me – Tourette syndrome.
I don’t just have Tourette’s, I also have autism, asthma, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, and I used to have epilepsy – yeah I have the whole package, but right now I want to focus on Tourette’s. Tourette syndrome is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that begins in childhood or adolescence. People with Tourette’s have what are called tics. Tics are non-controlled movements in the body, and there is also something called vocal tics, which are non-controlled movements in the vocal cords. Because of Coronavirus this can be a huge deal. Common tics are blinking, coughing, throat clearing, sniffing and facial movements. Some of my tics are touching my nose, mouth and face. I deal with this every day of the week 24/7. I’ve dealt with this all my life, but I’ve never been through a pandemic, and not touching my face is especially difficult for me.
To stay busy, I play Roblox and Capture the Flag with my friends on my phone. This is how we play together during this time. And we are able to maintain social distancing because we play them on our phones in our own homes.
Finally, I want to say, stay home, stay safe, stay calm and don’t panic.
The author is the son of “Triple Threat” columnist Jennifer Steuer.
In her own words: Olivia Steuer
How kids are affected by the coronavirus
I want those of you reading this to know how kids are affected by the coronavirus, physically and mentally. Sometimes adults don’t know how children are feeling about the virus. Kids can feel scared, alone, stressed and have a lot of anxiety about the pandemic and might be afraid to talk about it.
Talking with your kids is the number one thing you should do. That helps them know the difference between what is true and what they found on the Internet that might not be true. Adults should remember to keep it simple and age appropriate when they explain it to their kids. They don’t need to know every little detail. Another thing adults should do is play board games with their kids, do puzzles together or something else creative to keep then entertained and not worrying about what is happening in the world. Experts say that keeping kids on the similar routine to what they had before the pandemic is very important. That means getting them up at the same time as usual and have them do school work about the same time they would be in school. They need to know what’s coming next. If their schedules are consistent, children feel a sense of security with the pattern.
On social media, I spoke with some friends about how they felt about the coronavirus, and here are some of the responses: One said they felt anxious and helpless and that the activities or daily things they used to do have stopped because of the coronavirus. Another said that it is scary to not see your friends for a while and having someone in your family have it. But it is also scary when you see people going outside and pretending they are in an alternate universe and not caring about the people that are the most vulnerable to this virus.
So let me just say this, children can be more stressed, scared or worried than adults are at times. Parents should remember that they were once children too. Make a point to sit down with them and tell them what is going on because having an adult who knows how you feel can make a huge difference in this scary time. Stay positive, relax, take a deep breath and it will be OK.
The author is the daughter of “Triple Threat” columnist Jennifer Steuer.