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Dear Son, Coronavirus, Quarantine, and Empathy


--- 22 Months Old ---

Dear Son,

Your second birthday is creeping up, and quite frankly, year two has been quicker than year one. Truthfully, I now understand the common phrase often stated by the parents around me before I became one myself, "the days are long, but the months are short."

Year two of your existence, as always, has been a fun learning experience for your mom and I. You're running. You're throwing (even more). You're talking. You're dancing. And yes, you're now even given attitude - which has landed you on timeout at home and in daycare multiple times.

At this stage, I'm just outright surprised and in awe of truly how full of life you are. You are absolutely a people person and have this enormous empathy about you. You often care about others, hugging your friends in daycare who are crying, and always stating "ohhh noo!" when one of your animals falls off the couch, one of your favorite cartoon characters finds themselves in trouble, or generally if your strong sense of empathy channels someone else's struggles around you.

It's cute. But often, it really is incredible the intuition you possess for it. An "oh no" followed by a sudden urgency (maybe multiple "oh nos" and/or a point filled with excitement), along with a possible hug, or the rare "sowee".

I'm also really - like, REALLLY! - shocked by your fearlessness. Maybe because you're a toddler, but your trend of climbing things, jumping off of objects, and other daredevil scenarios have your mother and I playing chess regarding apartment preparedness while you're asleep every day.

But as you soon will learn (and I'm curious how), I've been able to get a grasp of how much of the above-explained qualities (and those moments) I've missed over the past seven weeks during the quarantine we find ourselves in. I don't miss the hours that you are at daycare anymore, as your mother, myself, and you have spent every day together since the world turned upside down due to the Coronavirus.

Sometimes, yes, we could use a daycare day. You are a lot. But most days, it is really cool to have those moments, to spend the time, and of course, to learn more about you.

I hope and pray that a global pandemic NEVER hits your existence, or even in your child's existence. You will most likely not remember these times, and I'm very sure the ramifications of what we're learning about it will shape the world you live in. I am eager to see what normalizes itself for you out of this, the way 9/11 did for my existence and the world that is.

Regardless, what these quarantine times have really hammered home is the vastly different world we experience from person to person. And truthfully, how much the immensely cracked and flawed foundation of inequality in America has shown through during this time.

I have no idea where you will live or will want to set your roots. It may not even be in America, and that's cool, too. But I hope that someway -  wherever, whenever - that your mother and I will properly and effectively be able to communicate, educate, and instill a sense of thinking, living, and interacting with such a sense of empathy - and not through the lens of politics, privilege, or inaction.

I know, it's a deep connection to make for just a toddler at the time, or even the moment you're reading this. But it's never too early to know our intentions for you. And, in already seeing how empathetic you have been, and continue to be - again, clearly your greatest attribute thus far - during these Coronavirus times, I feel VERY confident - and already proud - that you'll carry a sense of understanding for the experiences of not just yourself, but for everyone.

Quarantine has not only given me so much time with you - which has been fantastic, but it has given your mother and I just as equal a time to ponder on the madness around us, the way people react to said madness, and those unable to show empathy during this time.

I always wondered how I would have to introduce you to such a thing. From observing you during these quarantine times, I realize that you already have it. You have it, kid. I just have to find a way to nurture it, and never let that light go out.

I hope by the time you read this, that great sense and fire for empathy, still burns.

Love, Dad.

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