I’m the father of a third-grader: How the pandemic taught me new ways to be a parent | Jamar Thrasher

August 20, 2020 6:30 am

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By Jamar Thrasher

During this pandemic, nostalgia has been tugging at my heart, mostly when it comes to parenting. Parents are coping with taking an imperfect approach to parenting in the middle of a pandemic.

An African proverb insists that it takes a village to raise a child, but what happens when the village is restricted from physically gathering as a community? What happens is that raising a child demands new and innovative ways of parenting.

The village is important to a growing child because it allows the child to interact with people who are similar and different. It allows the child to better understand themselves and the world (village) around them.

To understand the importance of community, take for example Groundhog Day of this year. My daughter and I sleepily traveled from Central Pennsylvania to Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney. We met Punxsutawney Phil. And, with a crowd that seemed to continue to grow each minute, we marveled at the sights and sounds that surrounded us.

Although this was just a crowd, it was still a community. There were historians, fans, and other guests—all interesting people who my daughter needed to interact with and see. Indirectly, they helped me raise her in that moment because they gave her experience (yes, Phil helped too).

Now, without us being able to gather, I am using this time to understand how to be an effective parent.

Due to the absence of in-person gathering, I have decided to teach my daughter the things that I enjoyed in my childhood. Last night, she watched the 1990s film “Space Jam.”

“Space Jam,” a childhood favorite of mine, portrays basketball great Michael Jordan playing his best game against evil aliens.

My daughter is learning what it was like for me to be a kid growing up in the 90s. Back then, Nickelodeon, Michael Jordan, and even Saturday morning cartoons reigned supreme. This is important since she can learn to appreciate relics of my past and our bond can grow deeper through empathy.

The root of the village is interaction.

We share with each other during these interactions. We still share our opinions and our actions—even if they differ. For our children, the village has morphed into a socially distant village, but we all must continue sharing with each other, especially with our children.

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During this time, my third-grade daughter is also expanding her vocabulary. Since school ended, a lot of new words have entered her lexicon.

I want her to love the word enjambment, a term I first learned in my high school poetry class.

Enjambment means the continuation of a sentence without pause. Right now, it seems as if our lives are one big run-on sentence that keeps going and going and going and going without pause. We all need a break: parents, non-parents, adults, children, babies, animals…

I have never used the word enjambment beyond the context of literary arts, but it seems an appropriate term right now.

All of our lives are like a run-on sentence that keeps going, even if it deserves a pause or a break. We keep going. We keep sharing.

Jamar Thrasher is a free-lance writer from Camp Hill, Pa. 

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