Featured | Voices from the river

Dear Kids …

Let me start by saying, for most of the parents of the world, that we have no idea what we are doing.

The truth is, we might be in trouble here.

I noticed it the other day as you were toddling around the house, swearing under your breath as you tried to find where you set your sippy cup. It was in the bathroom, under the sink.

I get it. I find my coffee cup there sometimes.

Or when I said, “Let’s go down the slide!” and you said, “No. I too busy.”

“Too busy?”

“Yeah, I too busy.”

Or when I turned on the Magic School Bus and stepped away for two minutes.

“Just two minutes,” I said. “Give me two minutes.”

I made a cup of tea. It took 90 seconds. I came back and you were naked, diaper hanging from the corner of the television, couch cushions, pillows, books and every toy from every bucket strewn across the floor. It is incomprehensible to me how it takes 10 minutes to put on a sock and only two to produce this sort of industrious result.

We’re all multitasking these days — I’m multitasking even as I write this — trying to work, keep on top of homework, do dishes, laundry, make meals, run an in-home daycare, provide structure, stability and balance. All in a world that is virtually unrecognizable. We are tired, stressed, short-tempered and feeling terribly guilty about being all of those things when we are called upon to give more.

But I won’t lie: Sometimes it’s more than we have.

Dearest kids: These aren’t the things I hope you remember after this is all over. I hope that superpower you possess to bounce when you fall off the couch is the same superpower that protects your memory, giving you the good, filtering out the less than good.

Adults keep asking each other big and overwhelming questions like what the world will look like when this subsides? What will we keep? Who should we be?

But maybe it is you we should be asking, although I suspect I know what you would say.

Popsicles for breakfast. The good kind with the chunks of fruit in them and the big wide wooden stick that makes hanging on to them easier for small hands. Fresh bread straight from the oven. With butter. No peanut butter. No jam. Just warm, melty butter. Going back to sliced bread might be hard after this.

Evenings spent planting seedlings, surrounded by the earthy smell of peat moss and compost, the feel of the warm soil beneath your fingernails. The sound of sandhill cranes coming back after a long winter, flying low over the pasture, and being home to feel the change. That’s the thing with being home — you start to meld into the landscape and the fibers.

The crazy thing we learn in our jobs is that if given half a chance, the world will heal itself. It doesn’t require much from us beyond some time, love and patience.

I suspect that applies to little humans too.

Shauna Stephenson is TU’s national communications director. She lives and works near Ennis, Mont.