We call it Corona Confidence.
A couple of years ago, at B's birthday party, he invited his classmate who lives down the street. Literally the other end of our road. The boys hit it off and have been best buds since. About a year ago, his mother and I were lamenting that the kids could not just walk to one another's houses. It seemed so far. We talked about walking halfway and watching them walk the rest. It is a two minute walk that is essentially a straight shot. But we still weren't ready.
Then came Covid and the world ground to a halt. We were observing the stay at home orders and attempting to be good humans. This first two weeks when we were home my kids learned how to ride two wheelers. This actually became the video I saw most on my facebook feed. Day after day more kids were riding free with a parent running behind them. Faces showing equal parts wonder, pride and fear. Everyone had the time and quiet, open road to teach their kids. The boys learned between days of one another and life changed. They had freedom and an empty road. And while largely responsible, there also developed what we have titled - Corona Confidence. Partly it was us as parents. The road was deserted. Everyone was home. There were eyes on them the whole time. Partly it was them. This sense of adventure and safety. This curiosity to explore their neighborhood that was missing the normal hum of people and life.
It reminded me a lot of how I grew up. A pack of kids running free from morning until dusk. We joked that our neighborhood had formed their own little biker gang. We would text the parents letting them know they were on their way. It turned out to be a godsend that we lived on different ends of the road. It was like hot potato or tag. You're it. There were times that we would "lose" them. They would explore a new place or test the boundaries. Normal. It made me smile. I would find them and text the other mom "Corona Confidence". Code for - they did something they probably shouldn't have but they know better now. A quick reminder and all was well. They weren't willing to lose the freedom. So they respected it. They reveled in it. They thrived.
They built forts and played outside. There was tag and hide n seek. Even for me sometimes. They would be here and then they wouldn't. Moving between houses and along our quiet road. This confidence made them happy. To be honest, it was making me happy, too. I was feeding more kids than my own. Two water bottles turned into 3 then 5. I was bandaging bloody knees that didn't belong to me and stepping over far more pairs of shoes than belong to our little yellow house. The doorbell would ring or I would hear a knock and off they went. Their confidence gave me confidence. To play and explore and be kids. To let them play and explore and be kids.
Eight months ago I picked my kids and it is not an exaggeration to say that their lives changed forever. They were home from school for two weeks. Then it was for the rest of the year. They were kept from friends and family. They couldn't go to stores or restaurants or the park. There is a lot to be said for how resilient they are. How they have adjusted. They have suffered, sure. But that is a post for another day. For now, I am focusing on the confidence. The quiet, empty streets. The banding together, alone, for the betterment of the whole. I am sure all their memories of this time won't be good. There will be trauma. For sure. For all of us. But I hope that they do remember it as the time they developed the confidence to explore and ride and be free. The time that they learned, first hand, that the world really is their playground. Or it will be. Someday. Eventually.