Pandemic Heroes – Children
By Matthew Betts
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” - 3 John 1:4
One Pandemic Hero that we have not written about yet is the children. Children have faced so much because of lockdown and more, such as schools closing and not being able to enjoy social interactions with people outside their family for weeks on end. I am writing this as a dad to two primary school age children. Their mum has been working as a nurse in A&E throughout the Pandemic, and I have been working from home as development manager of this apostolate. During the two lockdowns – like many other parents – when my wife was home, she would home-school; and when she was not, I would home-school.
As parents, we work hard to protect and nurture our children through our actions and beliefs. In the early days of this Pandemic, there was a lot of fear about the unknown – what is this disease; how do you catch it; what are we going to do; how are we going to teach our children; will there be enough food and toilet paper; is it safe to go to the shops? Meanwhile, the children were steadily becoming aware that something very serious and wrong was coming along, but they trusted their parents whole heartedly. We therefore tried to keep conversations about this Pandemic away from their ear shot and watch news once they were in bed (not always possible).
Adults can be particularly proud of how resilient we have all been at following the rules and keeping safe. However, it is the children who have come along with us that have remained the strongest – due, I think, to that trust in their parents and other adults.
When you really dig deep, it is quite heart-breaking to realise what the Pandemic has given to our children: fear; closed schools (at first a novelty and then a bit boring); no birthday parties since March 2020 (an important part of making friends and making greater friends – my daughter hasn’t been to any in her first year at school); no ‘sleep overs’; no visits to Father Christmas or Christmas fairs; no proper holiday (just a stay-cation); no visits to older relatives (such an important connection); no visits to uncles, aunts, grandparents or hugs from them; no nativity play; no visits to theatres, cinemas or art galleries; and much more.
And then, unfortunately, many children have also experienced the death of relatives or friends who always feel so far away because we cannot see anyone. We have lost relatives and friends during the Pandemic – none of them because of COVID-19 but that does not make it any easier. This Pandemic makes the ‘normal’ grieving process very difficult.
However, throughout all of this our children have remained stoic and resilient: what amazing heroes they are. Like many parents, it was a relief when the children could return to school – and what a change in the children once they were back there. School is really the best place for our children (though I did enjoy teaching my children the names of all the kings and queens of England and how to play chess!).
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Throughout the Pandemic, the children have provided hope. We are therefore reminded about the events after Jesus’s death: the apostles and disciples had gone through so much pain and had lost their friend and leader, Jesus. They were scared and had locked themselves away, so the authorities could not find them. However, then Jesus came to see them after his death and Resurrection, and said, "Peace be with you." From then on, they were filled with the hope that the Risen Christ brings.
As Pope Francis said in 2019: 'Each of us is called…to rediscover in the Risen Christ the one who rolls back from our heart the heaviest of stones…Do not fear, then: the Lord loves your life, even when you are afraid to look at it and take it in hand… Jesus is a specialist at turning our deaths into life… Easter teaches us that believers do not linger at graveyards, for they are called to go forth to meet the Living One.’
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” - Psalm 127:3
Since the beginning of the Pandemic, the children have been our hope and their resilience has been our hope. My son said to me a few weeks ago, “things will get better, daddy – don’t you worry”. He is right. Let us make sure this world is fit for the children and a good place to live. Thank you to the children - our true Pandemic heroes.
Let us pray…
Father, whose Son called children to him,
we pray for boys and girls everywhere,
that their children may
be filled with laughter and happiness.
As they learn so many facts
and enter into so many new experiences,
may they learn of your love,
and how to serve Jesus as Master and Lord.
Bernard Thorogood (1927 – 2020)