I am making a plea, on behalf of the kids. Let’s stop using 2020 as a synonym for all the bad that is happening. You know you have done it. I have. I have said, “That’s so 2020” or “Can 2020 get any worse?” or “Is it 2021 yet?”…
I mean, of course there is a whole lot in this past year that seems completely incongruous with what our lives have ever looked like before. And, sure, so much is really negative, really awful, really sad. There are silver linings, and many days I try to be among the optimists. But there are also the kids out there trying to be kids, and until recently, I didn’t realize just how much our disparaging the concept 2020 may be doing to the our children, especially our teens.
Remember the other week when an alert came across our cell phones about the passing of Alex Trebek. Just like how we seem to find out about anything- immediately, and intrusively, we saw the story from the news station, and three of us, me, my husband, and my 8th grade daughter all were saddened. When my son wasn’t expressing sadness I thought it was because he doesn’t nightly watch game shows with us. He is, after all, trying to have one foot out of the house as he is practicing for going to college. The three of us have become fans of Wheel of Fortune and will occasionally catch much of Jeopardy, which in our market comes on between the nightly news, a must, and our family preferred Wheel. Then, I thought, well, you know girls tend to be a little more outwardly sympathetic.
Immediately, I heard my son cringe when we were lamenting how this year keeps getting worse. You can hear the continued tirade, right? Insert yours here. And then I was stopped in my tracks. He verbalized something we weren’t even thinking… this is his year to [celebrate], I am using that word to summarize his feelings, using that word judiciously in respect to all of the people who have suffered in more ways than missing school milestones. But, thinking about our kids, and more specifically to what triggered my son- this year, and into next will always be his senior year. 2020 will be the year he remembers, a milestone, when looking back. Good things are happening to him, despite all of the bad. He is learning, he is growing into an adult, he is applying to college, he is trying to maintain all of what makes him who he is while trying to look towards the future. Not to belittle all of the negative in the world, and not to belittle any of the struggles he and all his peers have had to overcome, but every time we focus on the negative, and then connect it to 2020, are we not imprinting our feelings? Simply put, we have a saying in our house, it’s like we are “yuckying his yum.”
Hear me out. My 17 year old knows how awful the world is. He knows it’s divisive. He knows there is hatred and mistrust. He knows people are getting sick and dying. He knows people’s careers are hanging in the balance. Closer to home, he knows how the virus has impacted our family. And he knows that education has shifted, and the impact that may have on the path his future may take. But, he is still 17, and filled with dreams. What years did you spend in grade school? What year did you graduate high school? Did you go to college? Did you like it? I bet your childhood and some of your adulthood can be connected to years, and easily. If someone mentions a year, you can place yourself there, and hopefully very happily- like those were the best times, or at least great times.
My fear is that each time we mention how bad these times are right now, and connect it to 2020, we should fast forward to our kids in fifteen, twenty, or thirty years from now. They will be watching a TV show, and think, “I wonder how old so-and-so is?” They will ask their smart house, and she tells them that the star was born in 2020. “Ugh” they say, “I was a senior in 2020… that year was awful! It was so 2020!“
Let’s give 2020 a break. After all, it’s not the number’s fault or the year’s fault, and certainly not our kids’ fault. They are trying to live their best lives during the first worldwide pandemic we all have lived through. Who is with me?