The Pandemic Tribe

Yes, a tribe. As the meaning says 

tribe

/trʌɪb/

a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.

“And so it was said to be a common cold, once upon a time, yet, it devastated the world with its colossal existence!!!” – Ruhi T

What does this sentence tell you? To me, it sounds like the ‘once upon a time…’ story that we all as parents, grandparents & teachers have narrated to our children. Try saying it with the modulation of, how we narrate the most important story plot where you unfold the entrance of the vile evil villain, in a happy stitch of the story. 

Tried it? Well then, welcome to the Pandemic Tribe. 

It is stirring to say that, just like every generation weaves new experiences of a new era they have lived, new stories are created on the storyboard to be narrated to its future. Uah!! What a narrative we have for our generation, the pandemic. This vile creature came into our world with the same dramatic entrance that an evil witch, wizard, or demon comes to destroy peace in a harmonious happy world (although not completely happy with wars, famine, politics, etc. in existence).  The fight was and is not just for ourselves but, for all of us around and that made us the tribe consisting of families and communities linked by social chaos, economic breakdown, religious calm, blood donating ties, a common fear speaking the same dialect, and having the only recognized enemy leader. Sounds familiar (read meaning above).

Children at home (24×7) became the most difficult aspect of this globally hit turpitude. As parents and as teachers we saw so many different facets of this situation. 

Flow of energy in a child is cognitively bound to how they perceive their surroundings. Let us take, for instance, a get-together or a birthday party. We have all experienced what I am about to state. Children are so engrossed in playing and being with each other that they forget the sense of time or hunger. Do you remember having to pull them to a table to at least take a few bites of food so that they don’t go hungry or just give them juice because they don’t remember they have to have a sip of water? We have all done this as children and done this for our children in many similar situations. 

As teachers, an example in the classroom can be having two similar age groups of boys/girls, one of whom has medium energy and one has high energy, but when they get together the energy skyrockets! They somehow merge into one another’s energy and up the scale so much that, they need to be separated to come down from it.

This is a cognitive flow of energy that needs as much taming as much as it requires freedom. None of us, myself included, were ready for a situation like this. Never did a thought cross our mind that schools can be closed for months, forget years!!! The flow of this energy inverted the body and the mind. It played games and challenged us in so many ways. As humans, we are historically and culturally conditioned on the fact that a child is the progeny of instructional and designed commands through strategized communication that has been built by the adult genome. We as adults find this ubiquitous and think of children as ‘animistic’ – a theory by Piaget that said – for the preoperational child the world of nature is alive, conscious, and has a purpose. Although in many ways we feel they act as been told or taught and behave as programmed. Then what can we mean by calling the thinking of young children “animistic,” if, at their stage of cognitive development, their idea of life is simply “assimilated to activity in general.”? Quite the debatable topic. 

Coming back to the effects of the pandemic the observations that came across me as a parent and an educator along with the community of very much like myself, were similar. This inverted energy flow brought forth, slow-boiling lava of boxed emotions and reactions. Discussions were slowly taking a turn towards arguments. There were boundaries set by the world and by the home. The sense of self or shall I say the ‘me’ quotient was now very prominent. Instructions were now explanatory because adults were suddenly in the same space as children. Rules and consistency on ‘keeping up to your word’ were now a challenge. Technology was suddenly a bigger reason to fight. Nuclear families had control challenges along with work management. While joint families had over-control challenges with privacy management. 

How many of these listed aspects sound similar to you? One? More than one? Few? All? Well, no matter one or all the challenges are real and are important to be sorted. The question now remains… how will we sort it? Let us first point out a few important ones in this blog. The community that we live in has sadly, never taught us to first and foremost respect boundaries with others. There is a question on every type of parenting and want for no judgment for your own type either! Our children thus, unfortunately, learn exactly that resulting in rules and boundaries being a disrespectful arena. 

I am going to use a very cliche quote now but I have my reasons – ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Yes, very true. But how far have we learned to make a village in our own family? In every experience or conversation that I have had, I realised that we tend to search for a village outside of our family. I am not quoting that it is wrong. Some of us sometimes have no choice. But here it is about building a child’s interpersonal skills along with a socio-emotional development when isolated during a lockdown. The root cause is the fact that when our generation was growing up our minds were so hammered to become ambitious that the creation of long-lasting bonds was a secondary feature in most households. There were dreams of soaring high but never the importance of rooting down. So my question is… how will we take something forward when it was never handed over in the first place? It is a harsh reality that we all must look into the mirror and say it out loud at least to ourselves (no matter how much we deny it). Acceptance is the key to change. 

Under these circumstances, the vile villain got the upper hand where we succumbed under tremendous amounts of stress that fogged our minds such that, we didn’t see the light. The light being the positive perspective of the situation by holding on to a new opportunity that we couldn’t find when we were running into an oblivion day-in-and-day-out without stopping or pausing. This opportunity was to reform long-lasting and real bonds with our children or families. To understand a village when you are surrounded by love and help. To appreciate even the little bit that one can do. Gratitude may be to the fact that if you are a single parent your only child/children can be bigger than a village of 10. As a man, you realise how much can be done when you acknowledge that housework is difficult and lend a hand and set an example for your children all the same.

What do you think was common across what I have mentioned in the last few lines? 

Well, I’ll answer that for you – Modelling. 

Be the model of who you want them to be. This works universally. The expected behavior is to be shown through your actions. So if you know you have boundaries then, respect others’ boundaries as well. If you expect to be spoken to respectfully, you do the same. If you want them to keep their promises well, make sure to keep yours and if gratitude is something you expect then, show the same by your actions or words. 

These were some prominently listed problems with our pandemic tribe. Let’s list some solutions in part 2. 

Stay tuned. 

Ruhi Thakkar

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