Happy birthday pandemic

A developmental view on our struggles with a prospering little one

“Dear Pandemic,

You are now two years old and have developed quite a character already. It took us a while to realise that we all are your parents and that you are now in our lives. Many of the adults still struggle with demanding responsibilities.

Your motor skills keep us on our toes, Just recently you started running and climbing. It is sometimes scary how easy it is to lose sight of you. Then we can’t find you, only to have you appear in places we thought we had safaguarded from your access. We protect areas that are not suitable for you, but you still gain access.

Recently you started carrying more and more things with you, attracting family members, colleagues, neighbours and strangers with your temparament. Everyone around seems drawn to watch how you become more self-aware. Some think this is cute and harmless, but we are not always so sure. Currently you are all that matters to you. You have discovered to scream “No!” to anything we propose and your moods can truly be contagious.

When you stubbornly resist direction at this age, I do wonder how much waywardness there might still come in a few years. And I shudder. Seeing you interested in other children makes us curious and we are stunned by how well you seem to observe and imitate.

We have seen so many different ways of parenting and we clearly see the helplessness and overburdening expressed on clumsy and failing approaches of interaction. A lot of the parental behaviour is inconsistent and oftentimes arises out of convenience, complacency but mainly stems from stress. It’s the over-activation of the constant need to be vigilant, but also the toll of emotional rollercoasters – endlessly swinging from high to low.

Moments of joy and hope come crashing down with despair and a deep sense of loss of control. Dealing with this young pandemic can be challenging in Hong Kong, Asia and worldwide. It is helpful to seek coaching or counselling with a registered counsellor who can help to understand your own psychology and to provide you with tools and techniques to strengthen your capacity.

Your language skills are stunning. Just recently you surprised us with more letters of the greek alphabet and with an unusual appetite for the longer words. In addition, you also frustrate us with your rapid development of new and more refined behaviours. Entertaining table after table in a restaurant? Not a problem for you. Goofing around with air crew members? Yup, they can regress to toddlers themselves when interacting with you.

As inexperienced parents we need to remind ourselves of some basics to deal with a 2y-old. Being knowledgable and prepared for the development and challenges to come is a good start. Exercising pretend play is absolutely age appropriate (i.e. by using virtual communication channels or bringing travel destinations to your home through food, movies, music and activities AND by exploring and expanding on the things around like growing plants and flowers at home, visit nature, outdoor sights and activities.”