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Stay within their vision

By Nathan Rice

It was a beautiful afternoon, so we drove to one of the trails in the Great Dismal Swamp. Timothy enjoyed the trail we visited the previous week, so he was ready to conquer this week’s location. We pulled into the parking lot at the head of the trail, looked at the location, and then looked at each other. The weather was nice, the sun was shining, and the swamp was strangely beautiful, but there was one small problem. There were a lot of bees!

Timothy has always been a little wary of bees, so I asked if he still wanted to go. He said yes, so I reminded him of what to do and not to do around bees. We exited the vehicle and began our hike. The walk was a good one, even if the bees did seem to always be near us.

We took a break at the end of our path to admire some of the scenery and to listen to the sounds of the swamp that surrounded our wooden walkway. When we turned around to continue our trek, Timothy started a little faster than me and remained a few steps ahead. In less than a minute, though, he stopped in the pathway and turned around to find me. He waited until I was next to him before he said, “Let’s walk next to each other. I don’t like it when you’re not in my peripheral vision.”

He’s normally not afraid to run ahead of me, but there’s normally not a swamp full of bees surrounding him. I thought that he was no longer thinking about the bees because he had done so well in the first half of the walk. He was avoiding them when possible, not flailing his arms when they came near and was even telling numerous bee puns. He was doing well, but I learned it didn’t mean the bees weren’t still a concern.

This made me think about how our children are doing in this scary and uncertain time. Newspapers, magazines, blogs and various organizations posted columns about ways to help children through this time when COVID-19 first began shutting down our nation. Lately, though, everything has seemed to be quiet about how to help children through this time.

Perhaps we are seeing them doing well, so we figure that they are no longer afraid or concerned about all that is happening. Children can adapt quickly to change, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still dealing with the emotions of all that is happening or that they aren’t worried or afraid.

We started well, giving our children a good base of how to deal with these events, but that doesn’t mean our job is done. We must stay in their peripheral vision. We must remain engaged.

Let’s continue to work with our children, check on their emotional status, discuss how things are going, and ensure we are there for them at all times.

Take some time this week to check on your children. Many of them will seem to be fine, having adapted well to the current situation, but we should look beneath the surface by watching for any signs that they are worried, concerned or afraid. We should talk to them again about all that is happening and ask them how they are feeling. The most important thing we can do is to be there, and to let them know that you are there. Stay within their vision.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.