In March of 2020 my son was a senior in high school. He had worked his way through this school’s world-renowned student choir and finally was enjoying the benefits of such an accomplishment, not the least of which is incredible travel opportunities. As a treat for our entire family we maxed out our finances in order to trail the choir on their Italian tour which had been scheduled for around graduation time. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch my son sing in the Sistine Chapel. For a family from the inner city of Gary, IN it seemed like an impossible dream come true. I never would have imagined such an opportunity for my child when I first began the journey of parenthood.
Then it all came crashing down. His final year of high school was unceremoniously ripped away. There was no “last day” or last dance, no chance to say goodbye to teachers and mentors. There were no final activities or end of year events. One day he went to school and then the next he didn’t. By the time graduation rolled around my son had given up any ideas he had about senior activities. The parents scrambled to throw together a drive-by graduation, but my son – ever the practical child – said he saw no point in it.
“It’s over,” he said, flatly. “High school is over. It’s done. It is what it is. What is the point? I just want to move on.”
His graduation gown and cap still sit in their original plastic wrap to this day.
His resilience was not rewarded. He was not allowed to move on. His college in Chicago closed their campus and after a lackluster semester of online schooling from his room in southern California, we decided the best move would be to defer and try again in the 2021 school year. He went to work and handled his own business for the next year, but what he missed out on wasn’t just a dorm room or a graduation ceremony. He missed out on a vital transition period in western life.
Those first few months of college are where you begin to develop a new community, and new peers. There comes a moment when you discover the friends you had to leave behind in high school are no longer on your maturity level, and you move on to new peer groups, hopefully aided by classes, work, and general activities.
But he didn’t get that. The friends he had were all still in high school this year. The other peers he had there were either in college in one of the few free states left or locked in their homes in fear. College was a bust and the peers he met at work were nice enough but how do you socialize when there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do?
It was a lonely year for him. By the time he attends college in the fall (finally) it will be closer to two years.
For me, it has been utterly heartbreaking and desperately infuriating. We were returned only a fraction of the money we’d paid for our Italian choir tour. We’re not wealthy, and it hurt but that wasn’t the worst part. I’d have given three times that amount just for the opportunity to launch my son into the next phase of his life.
Youth is fleeting. How many of us look back on those post-high school years and think to ourselves, “Where did the time go?” Parents will be especially familiar with the feeling. I still have a brand new dress in the hallway closet that I bought for my 9-year-old daughter. She never wore it but I always intended to sell it online. She’s 13 now. I blinked and suddenly my children were completely independent. I had no say in the speed at which it all passed. Time is no respecter of persons.
There is no time to lose at that age. We on the other end of the aging spectrum know this all too well.
We have stolen nearly two years of the most energetic and productive time in our children’s lives for a virus that 99% of people will survive and ostensibly 100% of children who contract it will survive. This virus has been no threat to youth (yes, I understand there are exceptions to every rule but in a country of 330 million, 100 to 200 deaths -while certainly heart wrenching- is statistically zero). We have the most advanced healthcare in the world and we were blessed to be able to provide a vaccine with stunning swiftness.
Now with news coming out about Fauci’s lies and the media’s collusion to ignore those lies so as not to make Trump right, I can no longer contain my anguish and my rage about the gross overreaction to this Chinese virus. While Fauci posed for magazine covers, my children languished in isolation. My son – in the prime of his life – sat in stasis while the people who are supposed to serve our communities feasted on unjustified power.
I also can’t forget about the pain of my fellow parents who have very young children. How do you explain to a 3-year-old that he can’t go see any of his friends anymore, that he has to cover his face, that he has to stay home for the indefinite future? A child that age does not blame his governor. He blames his parents (and most likely his mother, because we are the cause of every childhood injustice to a child). It has been heartbreaking for families trying to explain all of this ungodly, manmade mess to their young children.
While our children have been unjustly punished for the failures of our state and federal government, Anthony Fauci, Gretchen Whitmer, Gavin Newsom, and a litany of other elitist snobs have been enjoying their lives with little to no disruption. They have traveled, dined, socialized. Their kids and relatives have continued to be educated, continued with their private activities and playdates and meetups. None of them were scared of COVID because they knew what the risks were and for 99% of the population the risks were practically nil. Yet we all had to sacrifice our dignity and our freedom while they ate cake on private jets and laughed at our desperation.
What my son has lost at the hands of corruption is irreplaceable. His youth is priceless and the people he is supposed to trust to protect him have treated it like garbage.
Damn every last one of these selfish, ugly, evil people to hell. Damn them all straight to hell for eternity.
What they’ve done to our children is unforgivable.