It’s been difficult for Evan Dean when his friends get together.
Normally, the 16-year-old would be there, too. But his family decided to limit social contact early in the pandemic to mitigate against the spread of the coronavirus.
“It sucks when I know some of my other friends are hanging out,” Evan said on Monday in the driveway of his Regina home.
“I’m an extrovert, I thrive off other people’s energy so being alone really just drains me.”
Evan is thankful for his 15-year-old brother, Ryan Dean, to whom he said he’s become closer in the past year.
Ryan is a self-professed introvert, but said the isolation has begun wearing on him, as well.
The brothers agree their parents’ guidance and support has helped a lot as they process both the stagnation and change of the past year.
“It’s just been crazy,” Ryan said.
Child psychiatrist Tamara Hinz, whose Saskatoon-based practice has been busier than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, said just as adults understand and cope with COVID-19 in diverse ways, so do kids.
“I don’t want to give the impression that there’s sort of a one-size-fits-all response,” said Hinz, who said the most important thing for parents is to keep the lines of communication open.
“The things that we assume might be really difficult for kids or the things that we assume might be easy for kids might not be reflecting their reality,” Hinz said.
Haley Ryan has been trying to help her three children grapple with their changing world.
“It’s a lot. They’re trying to figure it out as best they can,” she said. “Things they could do, things they can’t do — it’s kind of confusing.”
Her five-year-old daughter Lilah said she misses school, which recently moved back online. It’s the third time since the onset of the pandemic.
“It’s half good, but half bad,” Lilah said.
Eric Tomczak Mulholland, seven, also misses school.
“It’s kind of hard to do learning through computers,” he said. “You don’t get much learning done.”
Eric is young, but he understands why his world feels upended — especially now with coronavirus variant cases on the rise in the city, across the province and throughout the country.
“I know that they’re more dangerous,” Eric said. “They can spread more.”
Lilah, too, sees changes happening around her and has gotten used to making changes of her own.
“We have to stay inside and we have to wear a mask,” she said, referencing how she has altered her behaviour.
Being older, the Dean brothers have been challenged to dive a bit deeper.
“I believe it exists and it’s real, but some of my friends believe otherwise,” Evan said.
“We’ve got great family friends and we can talk and discuss and we can disagree with each other, but we’re still all good people,” he added.
Ryan said with all that’s been going on, it’s hard not to constantly question things.
“You begin to think it doesn’t even matter, what’s the point? But then you see the numbers rising. You see people dying. And then you think, ‘well no, we should be doing this,’ ” Ryan said. “It makes a cycle.”
But the kids and teens who shared their experiences with Global News also said there have been positives.
From having more time to engage in new and forgotten hobbies to having more time to engage with those they love, the pandemic has forced a slowdown on them that they don’t necessarily see as all bad.
“When it’s time for bed, we usually do movie night,” said Lilah, who is finding family comfort in new traditions and enjoying having more time on her backyard play structure with her siblings.
Eric has bonded over Batman with his dad, who has passed down an action figure to his son. Eric has also had more time to draw.
“I can do art because COVID made time for me to do that,” he said.
The Dean brothers’ days were once packed with sports practices and games and other activities.
“It give us a chance to step back and look at it from a bigger picture and be like maybe we should prioritize our time differently,” Ryan said.
While they said being in close quarters constantly is difficult at times, it’s also been a bonding experience.
“We’re grateful for that,” Evan said.