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The Earnheardts | When kids find some good in a pandemic

This week we flipped the script and asked our kids to focus on the good stuff that happened during the pandemic.
The Earnheardts: Clockwise from top: Mary Beth, Katie, Sadie, Adam, Ozzie, and Ella.

In our last outing, we turned over The Earnheardts to the other Earnheardts, our kids: Ella, Katie, Sadie and Oz. We asked them a simple reflective question. “What was the bad stuff about living through a global pandemic?” 

This week we flipped the script and asked our kids to focus on the good stuff that happened during the pandemic. 

Also like the previous column, we’ve added a few side notes for more context. As one might expect, Gen Z references to meme culture and other things often require a definition or Wikipedia entry for better understanding.

Here’s what they said.

Ella: I already don't talk to a whole bunch of people or leave the house in general, so it was nice to have the expectation eliminated. 

I didn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to go to school (I normally wake up at 5:30 on school days). There wasn't really a band camp because of the pandemic, so I wasn't suffering in the heat, learning marching drills and memorizing music like I am now. I also didn’t have to take a bunch of state tests, this year or last year. I did a lot of school work, but there was also time to focus on things I liked, too. I read a whole bunch more and got back into playing Minecraft

When the pandemic first started, we put puzzles together as a family. Of course, they were set up in the living room. So by the end there were always a few pieces missing. I’d like to do that again. Preferably not in the living room (the missing pieces still bother me).

I spent more time with my siblings. We got closer, I guess. We got to travel some as a family. Mainly to the church. Over the pandemic, we renovated our family's old church. It's not like it was used as a church anymore. Now it's like another home. Kind of. Unfortunately, we still find a dead animal in it on occasion, so it’s not very homey. Not yet. But it’s nice. It was fun to clean out all of the trash and mementos that were stored there. That was a good pandemic project. 

Kate: There was no school for awhile, at least not normal school. But I’m guessing my siblings are going to say that, too. When we did have school, it was partly online, so it was easier in some ways, but harder in other ways. I got to sleep in later in the mornings, but I’m guessing they’re going to say that, too. 

I had more free time to do things that I liked, like gaming. I like Minecraft because it has poggers things like the Ender Dragon, the end game boss in Minecraft. You can beat it with beds so I actually don't know why it's the endgame boss. It's just a bit sus in my opinion. 

Speaking of sus, have you ever heard of Among Us? Probably not if you don't have kids and you are old like my Mom and Dad. Among Us is a game that showed up during the pandemic. It was a good game to play online with your friends. It was a morale booster because it kept us connected with our friends. 

There was other good stuff, but I’m sure my siblings will talk about all that stuff. Their opinions are almost always bad though, so beware.

Sadie: The masks were good. They were more comfortable than most people say. And now I’ve gotten used to it, so I kind of like it. I heard that I might have to wear it again when I go back to school, and I’m OK with that. Some kids don’t like them because they can be super tight, or they can make your ears and nose itchy. But I think they’re soft, and I can breathe through them just fine.

I also liked that Animal Crossing came out during the pandemic. Well, it might have come out right before the pandemic started, but everyone started playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch during the pandemic. That’s when my Dad bought it for us. And he liked it so much, he started playing it all the time, too. We had one island for our family, and we made the island together. I named the island Apple. Everyone hated this, but I don’t care.

I also got to move into a room with my sister during the pandemic. I was in a room by myself, and I’d like to have my own room again some day. But I like having a room with my sister Katie because we have funny conversations about things that happen in school, we complain about people, and we talk about YouTubers we like, like TechnoBlade and TommyInnit.

I really liked getting takeout when the pandemic started. Why did we stop that? We should do that again. Can we get Olive Garden tonight?

Ozzie: Well, the first thing was I didn’t have to wake up and go to school. At least not at 6 a.m. I mean, eventually I would have to go on the computer for my Google meetings with Ms. Collins and Ms. Clark, but that wasn’t until like 9 or 10. I could’ve probably slept until noon those days. Easy. 

Actually, wearing my pajamas to school every day was good. Get it? Cause like I literally just wake up, roll out of bed, and click a few buttons and I’m in school. Easy.

The masks are pretty comfortable. I liked the millions of YSU masks Mom and Dad brought home from work. I liked them even better when they were clean. I still like to wear mine, even when I don’t have to. It’s just hard to drink and eat when you have them on (side note: We’ve told Oscar more than once that he can remove his mask before eating and drinking, especially when we’re in public. But he forgets. And even when he remembers, he insists on trying to sip drinks through a straw while still wearing a mask. It’s gross, but it keeps him entertained)

I liked staying home, to “shelter in place” (side note: he actually used air quotes here), because that meant more computer and YouTube time. But try sheltering in place with five other people. I mean, come on! You people all want to do the same thing as me. Sometimes I felt like I had to find a shelter inside my shelter just to get away from you people. 

Still, you guys were pretty cool. Mom and Dad made sure I had an endless supply of Sunkist and ice cream. That was good. I hope I still get that stuff after the pandemic.

That’s it. The good and the bad from the Earnheardt kids. Our next column most likely won’t include direct comments from our kids, which means our most devoted readers, Mr. and Mrs. Sweetwood probably won’t enjoy it as much. But we always promise to share stories of their escapades when even remotely entertaining. 

Now it’s off to the Olive Garden because, as we mentioned in our last column, although we typically pay our kids in ice cream (thanks Handel’s), they demanded a raise for part two. Salute!

Ella, Katie, Sadie and Ozzie are all budding artists, authors, dancers and comedians (on any given day of the week). Mary Beth Earnheardt is a professor in the Anderson Program in Journalism at Youngstown State University where she advises student media. Follow her on Twitter at @mbexoxo. Adam Earnheardt is professor and special assistant to the provost at YSU and a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists executive board. Follow him on Twitter at @adamearn.

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