My daughter's virtual WW2 expo made me realize that we're living through a unique time in history, and I want my kids to have a record of it.
Last week my daughter had a World War II expo on Zoom to wrap up the school year in history. As we gathered up momentos from my grandmother’s time as a Rosie the Riveter, my great-uncle’s journal from his imprisonment in a Japanese POW camp, and her paternal great-great-grandfather’s katana (surrendered to him in the Philippines after the Battle of Samar), it got me thinking about what my kids would have to remember this time – the unprecedented global pandemic and quarantine that we are living through.
Aside from memories of missing friends and experiences, along with memories of stressful yet boring days with four adults working from home and four kids simultaneously trying to complete online lessons, I couldn’t think of anything at all. And while I have no desire to whitewash a pandemic and tie it up in a pretty bow, I do want them to have something tangible to look back on when they’re older — especially when they have kids and grandkids of their own.
Since this is their last week of distance learning and restrictions are being eased but not lifted, we still have some time left to create some things. So I’ve come up with a list of three things we can do as a family — most importantly, things that don’t require us sitting down together but rather rely on individual contributions.
1A Quarantine Journal
Yesterday I ordered a journal from Amazon – it’s a fancy one, leather bound with thick paper. I’m going to leave it on the kitchen table and tell the kids that this will be our family record of this time in quarantine. A written record they can open up and look at when they’re older or give to their kids when they have their own history expo – hopefully at actual school and not on Zoom. The cool thing about this project is that although it’s collaborative, it can be written in whenever and wherever any of us wants. I want them to feel ownership of this, and the freedom to be completely honest about their feelings and thoughts without fear of repercussion or teasing … a tall order with 4 siblings, but nothing a jar of paper clips can’t solve. (After they’re finished writing, they can paper-clip their pages together — and no one is allowed to remove the paper clips.) My hope is that the journal will get filled, but my guess is that we’ll get a few dozen pages at best. That’s better than nothing, and it’ll be cool to open it up years from now when they’re adults and they can tease each other without anyone crying. Hopefully.
2An Actual Photo Album
One surprising upside of having all these devices around is that everyone has a camera. Sure, they’re not point and shoot cameras, but they’ll do the job. Next week, I’m going to tell the kids they have to take 3 pictures a day and send them to me before screen time. They can be pictures of anything they want – again, I’m looking for their own perspective and their own viewpoint here. At the end of each week I’ll print them out at Walgreens and compile them into an actual, physical photo album. This is a thing I have never done before, so this project is a somewhat daunting. Luckily, their excitement will hold me accountable … and my two daughters’ inherent craftiness (definitely not a genetic trait) will ensure it gets done.
3A Quarantine Vlog
My kids are digital natives. YouTube is as real to them as magazines were to me growing up. And while their YouTube and TikTok usage is heavily restricted, last weekend I did let them make a few sibling TickTocks that ended up being pretty cool. It’s something they never would have done on a normal Saturday, so I’ve declared weekends video project time. In addition to TikTok, they’re each going to record a video of something about the past week in quarantine — it can be as simple as a video of the trees or empty street through a window, or it can be as involved as a video diary of their week. Once quarantine is over and life is fully back to normal — however far away that might be — my oldest daughter is going to compile these into a YouTube channel documenting our quarantine. Although it’s not tangible in the strictest sense, the video medium will give this a richer, more colorful record of all our adventures and misadventures — like yesterday, when my kids tried to teach me the latest dance craze. Spoiler alert: I did not quite master it.