Name: Sharon E...
From: Stettler , Alberta
School: University of Portland
It could Happen To You
Storm” is a fictional story that takes place at the beginning of
the September school year in 2020. The premise is how addiction
attacks an entire family after the boredom, fear and tedium of being
locked-down for months during the COVID 19 pandemic. Ultimately this
is a guideline – a set of suggestions, hints and tips to for
families to stay healthy during isolation. These are strategies I
have implemented with families in the school I am principal of.
Billy Williams walked into my office with his head down, staring at
his shoes as though if he were not to do so, he might trip and fall.
Shame can do that. I knelt down next to him, raised his chin and
looked into his tear-filled eyes.
“Hey Billy, your
teacher asked me if I would talk with you. Wanna tell me what
happened during recess this morning?” Billy shook his head and
lowered it again. I suggested maybe it would be easier if I told him
what his teacher told me. He nodded.
“So, Mrs. Fox
told me that you brought a toy gun to school and were pretending to
be a sniper demanding that other kids die when you pointed your gun
at them. She also said you really scared some other kids.” He
nodded. And again, took to examining his shoes as the tears began to
I made an
appointment to meet with Billy’s parents that evening. When they
arrived a number of things struck me. Billy’s dad smelled of
alcohol, his mother was unkempt and distracted the entire time,
playing on her cell phone and looking like she anxiously wanted to be
somewhere else – anywhere else. When I was finally able to piece it
together the revelation shocked me.
The Williams family,
like many others, had suffered greatly during the Covid-19 lockdown
that ended only weeks before the September 2020 school year began.
With no work for either parent, financial worries began to mount.
With no social interaction with friends or other family members, no
trips to the mall, or zoo, or library, or grandma’s house, or
swimming pool, boredom quickly set in. Add to the mix, the fear of
the pandemic itself and the loneliness that comes with isolation, and
this becomes the perfect storm for devastating families.
hands are the devil’s workshop.” I’d known this for years, but
seeing how that and worry and fear had devastated the Williams
family, brought that truth down like a hammer. And I had to wonder
how many more families were facing this new pandemic?
I felt more like a
priest than a principal as the family confessed to me what had
happened over their six months of isolation. Billy’s dad had a
relatively successful retail business, but as a non-essential service
he’d been shut down and he may not recover. After losing his job,
dad began drinking regularly to combat the boredom and worry. In
short order he was drinking from morning til night. Billy’s mom had
worked part-time at their shop and was a Yoga instructor. Without
either she began binge watching every Netflix show she could digest,
and as many Doritos as well. Billy spent hours alone in his bedroom
on his computer. That’s where is fascination with World of
Warcraft, and Assassin’s Creed became an obsession – an
the week between our first and second meeting I spend hours looking
for ways to help this family and the others that were beginning to
they returned the following Tuesday, they seemed in a better place
than previously. They too had been seeking help as life began to
return to the new normal. Billy’s dad had found part-time
employment, his mother actually cancelled their Netflix subscription,
they removed all age inappropriate games from Billy’s computer and
installed timer software that would shut it down after a specified
period of time. At bedtime Billy’s computer was password locked.
reports suggested that the second wave of Covid-19 was about to break
and soon the Williams family would be facing these challenges all
over again. The only thing required for addiction to flourish is for
good people to do nothing. So together we developed a plan:
will get up together every morning even if and when there may be
nothing demanding they do so.
will make breakfast, then go for a walk.
walk they discuss their plans for the day.
isolating themselves, even from each other, they will spend at least
two hours together each morning and evening.
purchased table games and jigsaw puzzles they can play together.
Because of their limited resources they found these games and
puzzles at a local thrift store.
They chose to
begin reading the entire Harry Potter series together.
a garden and with the coming of winter, will turn it into a skating
joined AA and had found an online alcohol support group so that when
lock down begins again he will not be left scrambling.
They set up a
small gym in the basement where they are working out together.
healthy meal plans and prepare them as a family.
Junk food is
only available after Friday evening pizza night and Saturday movie
still off the table. But they may rent one movie a week from their
cable service provider.
began working toward getting an online Yoga Facebook weekly session
downloaded Zoom and other social meeting apps so that once isolation
begins again, they can stay in touch with friends and family.
each chosen a hobby that they can do on their own.
dad has chosen to renovate the basement.
His mom has
taken up her long-lost love of painting
and Billy is
learning how to juggle and make balloon animals.
Over the course of the first semester I was delighted to watch The
Williams’ family not only get back to the people they were before,
but also become a valuable resource for other struggling families in
our community. The self-esteem and reward from helping others has
given them new purpose and value.
Billy now holds his
head high as he walks by me in the halls of our little school.