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Pandemic parenting

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

Impossible. For U.S. parents forced to school their children because the pandemic has us in fear. Impossible.

Imagine me singing these words to the tune of the song “Impossible” made famous in the 1997 Rodgers and Hammerstein version of the movie “Cinderella.” It was sung by two of my favorites, Whitney Houston and Brandy. This song keeps playing in my head as I consider the upcoming school year.

A New Jersey mother that I follow on Instagram made a video post that had words affixed to the bottom of the screen that read, “I need this pandemic to go away.” She was explaining how her daughter’s school principal could not answer the questions she asked of her because so many details of the pending school year were still being worked out. The mother was frustrated and I could tell she was near tears as she said, “I just want to figure this out and make the best decision for my kids.” I am sure I speak for many when I say I feel her pain.

Children have so many questions. I believe the pandemic made that truth more prominent. Not having answers to their questions has been a difficult and humbling reality as the mother of my three brilliant gems. I know I am not supposed to have all the answers, but I like being able to help them when I do.

Parenting during this pandemic has been the most eye-opening event in my life. I have literally had to come face to face with me: my fears, my selfishness and all these other ugly sides of me that I keep under wraps pretty well. Quarantine has also revealed to me some beauties that I am grateful to have discovered. I understand that there is something sobering about not having the answers. There is a wisdom of giving our children what we know and teaching them how to find what we don’t know. Awareness of our limits is actually a place where possibilities are born.

You have likely heard of the young, viral sensation Keedron Bryant. Twelve-year-old Bryant recently became known to the world from a home video of him singing the words, “I Just Wanna Live.” I was unaware that Keedron’s mother wrote the lyrics to this song until I watched an Access Hollywood interview of Keedron and his mother. Something she said really resonated with me. She didn’t know how to tell Keedron to respond to the injustices and the outrage and the pandemic that was swirling around him. God gave her a message in her notes from prayer. She gave those notes to her son and sent him upstairs to seek the Lord about how to minister the words to others. He was to return when God had given him something. From Keedron’s obedience, the world now has a message of heartfelt honesty and hope for healing.

I am not Keedron’s mother, but I am the mother of young black men. I am the mother of children who are not going back to school in the same way that they are accustomed. I am the mother of children who have questions. I am a mother and a parent, like many of you, who does not have all the answers. But this is what I do know for sure. I am also a mother like Johnetta Bryant with my limits and my prayers. I know for sure that those two things have brought about unforeseen possibilities when I give them to the Lord.

Perhaps the most accurate line in that “Cinderella” song that closely relates to our experiences of today is “the world is full of zanies and fools who don’t believe in sensible rules and won’t believe what sensible people say. And because these daft and dewy-eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes, impossible things are happening every day.” Indeed they are.

While I am encouraging myself, I say to the parents who are facing what seems impossible right now, trust what you have in your hands and give it to your children. Parental knowledge is invaluable. It has been proven by our Father in Heaven. Our parental status carries much power. We don’t exercise that power near as much as we probably should.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of Nonprofit Leadership and Management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Connect with her via iamquawanna@thebiggerme.net.