The eyes of a child | Columns

As a child, summer was my favorite season. School was out and the schedule was so much more relaxed without having to meet homework deadlines. I remember lying in my garden with my hands behind my head and looking up at the dark sky. The stars were bright and I tried to imagine what lay beyond. Were there other civilizations out there and if so what did their inhabitants look like? It was a great time to dream about life in general and what the future might hold.

We met up with friends to do fun things like swimming, biking and hiking. We cycled the back roads in St. Johnsbury Center. We didn’t have to worry about strangers stopping us. The neighborhoods were safe. When we were teenagers, the kids would get together at night and play badminton under the streetlights in front of my house. We lived off the main road so few cars passed. One night another girl and I decided that we would try to keep the yardie in the game for as long as possible. We managed to beat it back and forth 960 times and finally got so tired that one of us missed it. I still remember that game to this day.

I was always a member of a book club. As an avid reader at age 10 or 11, I read books like Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene, The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon, Trixie Belden by Julie Campbell Tatham, and The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West. These were all mysteries, and since I wanted to work for the FBI one day, I figured I should read as much as I could about mystery-solving.

What do children dream of today? It’s a whole different world. Our children and grandchildren have technological devices that allow them to access the internet, text messages, email, photos and more. They’re growing up and experiencing technology in ways we never imagined. Sometimes technology seems all-encompassing. Yet how many people know what it’s like to sit still and feel peace, or know that sometimes doing “nothing” is as important as always doing “something,” or spending time daydreaming spend?

I feel like we’re in the middle of a storm and our kids are having a hard time dealing with it. Beginning with the first recorded US case of COVID-19 on January 20, 2020, all of our lives have been transformed. Most of us were masked, including the school children. Schools were closed on some days depending on how many teachers and students were sick. Parents had to rush to find a babysitter or stay home from work. There are still people who get COVID or deal with Long-COVID. I can’t imagine young children understanding why they had close family members who were hospitalized and sometimes died but were not allowed to visit them.

This year we have even more to do. Many adults are afraid of the development of the world. There are problems such as lack of food, parental separation or divorce, school, bullying (including cyberbullying), violence, war in Ukraine, parental job loss, gas and heating oil prices, child abuse and drugs in our neighborhood,

In an article on www.npr.org dated June 11, 2022, Brittany Cronin writes, “Gasoline prices in the US have just touched $5 a gallon for the first time, and there is little relief in sight…Gas prices have been a big driver of Inflation soaring to its highest level in almost 40 years.” By the time you read this article, prices will have risen even higher. Oil for next winter causes fear as people wonder how they can afford the price of heating oil.

Food prices continue to rise. People tell me they now pay an average of $100 extra for food every week. I’ve been to stores where some shelves were empty or where there are notes on the shelves saying they couldn’t get that particular item. Truckers will pay higher prices to deliver groceries to us.

Children are not immune to their parents’ fears. Her life has been turned upside down again, or should I say “still”. They listen to adults when they talk about different things. Is it any wonder they care?

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that between 2016 and 2019, 5.8 children ages 3 to 17 were diagnosed with anxiety. Depression was estimated at about 2.7 million for the same period and age group. Some of these led to suicide.

We need to find ways to relieve our children’s stress and anxiety. Children need their parents to be there for them, to read to them when they are little, to attend their school events and games, to keep life as normal as possible and to be their support systems. Children are also afraid of the future and bad things that could happen.

Children shouldn’t have to worry about what adults can’t handle. Adults must rise to the challenge and make the world a better place for children. You need to work with others despite differing opinions. When children feel healthy and safe, perhaps some of the anxiety and depression will be alleviated.

Life is a journey. Look into a child’s eyes. What do you see?

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