Into The Unknown: A Guide To Comforting Your Children In These Troubling Times

So, things are scary right now and you have some young kiddos and you need to make sure they feel safe and secure, right? You need to make sure that they know that everything is going to be OK. I get it.

So first, let’s get this out of the way, everything IS going to be OK. You’re fine. Your kids are going to be fine. Your husband or wife is going to be fine. Your parents… well there is like an 84 percent change they are going to be just fine. Sure, you don’t exactly work in an “essential field” and there is a decent chance you are going to be laid off or at least furloughed. But hey, on the bright side, you learned the word furloughed today and that’s something to hang your hat on.

Remember that day of your best friend’s wedding when you learned the word veranda? That was a wonderful, beautiful day, and this day is exactly like that day. You are learning new words and it is exactly the same thing. So, don’t worry about getting furloughed. Grab a beer, sit out on the veranda and enjoy the nice March weather! Is it too chilly for that? I haven’t been outside in like a week, but I’m sure it’s perfect veranda weather!

Now that all of that is out of the way and… wow you chugged that beer real quick huh? Ok grab another, I’ll wait. It’s cool.

So, your kids see you and your partner talking, and they hear the concern in your voice, and they see that look of worry on your face. They are asking why they aren’t going to school; they are asking why they can’t go to Chuck E. Cheese; they are asking why they can’t give Grandma and Grandpa a hug. So how do you handle this? First take a deep breath and remind yourself… and you just finished that second beer. OK. This time grab two, so it won’t be a distraction.  Cool?

Annnnd you are double fisting. That is not exactly what I had in mind, but you do you.

Remind yourself that everything IS going to be ok. Then sit them down, and smile. Let them see you smile, let them know you are happy. Go ahead, smile. OK. No, nope, that’s a creepy smile. You are forcing it and it looks super weird and it’s frightening them. Relax. Think happy thoughts. Think how beautiful your wife looked out on the veranda at your best friend’s wedding. 

Have you ever smiled before? Show some teeth! Those are your teeth? You didn’t get braces as a kid? Maybe don’t show any teeth? When this all blows over, maybe look into Invisalign? There is a decent chance it will still be a thing once the economy bounces back. Invisalign is going to be fine. Everything is going to be fine. You’re going to be fine. I’m going to be fine.  We’re both going to be fine.

So now you’re smiling, and you are just staring at them. You have to say something. You can’t just stare at them. So just speak from the heart! Let them know that right now some people are getting sick, so just to be extra careful people are trying not to get too close to each other. That’s’ all. It’s like how we wash our hands after using the bathroom, or before eating. It’s just a precaution to make sure everyone stays healthy. Are they buying it?

And let them know that children are going to be fine. It’s just the sick and elderly that we have to worry about. And now they are crying about Grandma and Grandpa, aren’t they? Crap. Well, tell them Grandma and Grandpa aren’t that old. And that… Wait, what? In the US it is actually a lot of younger folks in their 30s who need critical care and are dying? Are you serious? I’m in my 30s. My wife is in her 30s! Why are people in their 30s dying here? They are fine everywhere else! What the hell?

OK, you know what? Go grab us both a couple beers.

Did they ask when it was going to be over? They did. OK, we’re prepared for that. No big deal. Like 2 weeks. Right? That’s what they said at first, like two weeks. And that was a week ago, so we are almost through this thing. What? A month? They are shutting things down for like a month? Minimum? OK, so what’s even the end game here? What happens in a month that suddenly allows us to go back to normal? We are going back to normal, right? Or, do we just keep everything shut down? I don’t think the economy can survive that! It’s not a sustainable plan! We need a sustainable plan! I feel a tickle in my throat. Do you feel a tickle in your throat?

My wife just read this over my shoulder and informed me it wasn’t even a god damned veranda at the wedding. It was just a deck. Just a plain, regular old deck. My chest feels tight. That’s probably just anxiety, right? Why does my chest feel so tight?

OK, change of plans. Let’s just order Disney+ and sit those kiddos down in front of Frozen 2 for the next month or so. Distract them. When they ask questions, just find a new way to distract them. And distract yourself. Let’s just all distract ourselves! There is nothing we can do. We’re probably all going to die and even if we don’t, we are all going to be out of jobs. Does unemployment insurance even cover being furloughed?  What’s the difference between being laid off and furloughed? I don’t even really know what it means! Is it just a fancy way to say fired? My chest is so tight!

Great, in the middle of me writing this, they just shut down New York. New-fucking-York! My kids are definitely picking up on how quickly and furiously I’m typing right now, and they are panicking a bit. Yep, the youngest is crying and asking why daddy is sweating so much. I didn’t even realize I was sweating this much!

 OK.

Time to finish chugging this beer and put all this advice to the test!  First things first – everything is going to be OK.

Tony Lisowski is a suburban comedian, devoted husband and father, and just an overall sweetheart of a man.

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