Spread Your Wings, But Wear a Mask: The Teens of COVID | East Texas Moms


Unfortunately, even a pandemic doesn’t freeze time.

No pause button. No redo. Time….including the short little about 4-year stretches of life we call “The High School Years” or “The College Years”, keeps happening.

This is it. This is what our kids get.

I am the mom of three teenagers in the thick of COVID. My youngest daughter started high school in the fall. Her entire freshman year, at least, will be completely colored by the pandemic. She’s gotten to do many things, but she’s also had to endure many changes, disappointments and make many adjustments.

My oldest daughter is a high school senior. That means that she started her senior year and the whole process of applying to and selecting colleges in the middle of pandemic life, assuming things will get better soon but planning for things that currently would not be an option.

I want for her to have the same opportunities as every “headed to college” kid. I want the progressions, the phases of life, the rites of passage, to apply to her like they have to everyone before her.

I want for her to know that she isn’t going to miss out on more things.

But in reality I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t know how much of the college experience will be taken from her. I’m not sure if she is looking forward to things that will never go back to being like they were again. I don’t know what is in store for next year.

I have a son that was away in his freshman year of college when the pandemic hit. If you have a college kid, you know that COVID is really impacting their experience in such a significant way. There’s been a lot more time back home, which is fabulous yet also disappointing and confusing when you’re supposed to be learning to be independent.

“Spread your wings!”, we tell them.

“Now come back home and you aren’t allowed to go anywhere or touch anything”, we tell them.

Then we say, “Okay, now go spread your wings again mostly, but also wear a mask.”

Not confusing at all, right? There’s been online classes, limited interactions on campus and lots of extracurriculars that just aren’t happening at college. The pandemic is going on longer than any of us wanted, and my son’s “college years” are not going to look at all like what was expected or what most of us get to experience.

I say all of this not to evoke pity for our kids. They don’t need it anyway. I witness firsthand every day that these kids….of this generation.. are truly beyond that.
Sure, they may get labeled for life as “the kids that never had a prom” or “the kids that had a 5-month Spring Break”.
But these kids will represent and be so much more than that. And you should be excited for the future and all that they’ll contribute to the world.

They’ve learned and modeled selflessness, as they wear a mask for others.

Flexibility is seen almost daily as their game gets cancelled, someone close gets sick or the world throws them another curve ball.

They’ve learned empathy, and they genuinely care about the health and wellbeing of others, even those that they don’t know.

The COVID teens don’t take things for granted. They’ve learned to appreciate simple things like attending school in person, playing a sport or sitting at a restaurant with grandparents.

You’ve probably noticed that here are no guides out there on parenting in a pandemic, so we are all in uncharted waters. I don’t know a lot, but I do know this: the consistency and stability that I can bring to the life of my teens in this inconsistent time is simply to be there and be their mom in every single way that I know how. To love them and empathize with them. To be there for them in the moments that don’t make sense.
Let them know that it’s okay to not know. To sit with them in the grief of losing loved ones, the grief of missing out, and the pain of loneliness. To make it clear that even though time doesn’t stand still and their life keeps going….it is okay and actually preferred for the spreading of said wings to happen a little slower right now.
The result of all that this generation is enduring is that they are getting very strong. They are a force. A wise and caring force with a voice, and I believe that the result will be a next generation that is significantly different from any one before.

I wait with baited breath to see what these kids will do.


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When Katy was 20, she married an Aggie that grew up in the Amazon jungle. She and her husband are full-time missionaries and lived for two years on a small island with their then-toddlers. Now she is a SAHM of three living in Lindale. Her husband travels internationally a good bit and she spends most her time being taxi to their 15, 13 and 10 year olds to their bazillion activities. She started a blog, Pieces of the Story, to tell about some of their adventures. Her favorites: Jesus. Cooking food her family loves. Mother-daughter shopping in either role. Organizing and logistics. Mexican food on rainy days. Not great with: Crowds and motion in tight spaces. Board games. Pretending of any sort. Ironing or sewing. Living things other than people. Check out Katy's blog here at https://katypayne.wordpress.com