01 May Message from The Head of School April 30
Dear Covenant Community,
Executive Functioning Skill is a fancy term that means our brain’s ability to pay attention, plan, problem solve, self-evaluate, inhibit undesirable behaviors, and exercise cognitive flexibility, among other things. When a child has particular difficulty with these at his or her age level, then we often feel the need for more information and we sometimes recommend testing. Well, if you were a specialist evaluating me, I would definitely be headed for some testing. I think I have an ever-developing case of Executive Function Disorder.
I’m scattered; I lose things and forget things, like what I’m doing at any given moment. I’m having a hard time inhibiting my trips to the refrigerator. I have to read something several times before I can absorb it. I start down a trail of academic pursuit and end up ordering something online I didn’t even know I wanted. When a colleague explains something involving numbers, a full band begins to play a rousing rendition of Stars and Stripes in my head, and all I can do is enjoy the music until the person stops talking. It’s possible that this is early onset dementia, but more than likely, I have COVID-Brain.
Has COVID-Brain taken up residence in your house, along with its close cousins Fatigue and Apathy? Has it affected one of your children? All of your children? You? I’m going to guess that your answers would range from “it comes and goes” to “what’s COVID?”. Let’s face it, most of us are adrenaline junkies and we do pretty well in a crisis. But now that the crisis is over, all we can see is an uncertain future and the serious need for a change of scenery. While your COVID-Brain may not manifest like mine does, I’ll bet you’re not at your peak intellectual form these days.
What happens when we operate at 10 IQ points lower than usual? What does life look like when our laser-focused Executive Functioning is functioning on a hit-or-miss basis? I don’t think operating with slightly less brain capacity is so much the problem. I think it’s that we are operating with less brain capacity AND we expect to operate at full capacity, or higher, during this time. We expect ourselves to be sharper, more mentally flexible, with tremendous self-control and the ability to solve all problems that come our way. I would offer that you might want to ever-so-carefully back away from that expectation, because it’s toxic. It’s a lie. It’s dangerous. It has great potential to harm you – or someone around you.
Instead of seeking to understand everything, including how the city’s reopening will work and what next school year will look like and how long it will take the economy to recover, we need to apply what little focus we have on the really important questions:
- How will we be different because of this experience?
- What have we discovered about ourselves and our families during this time?
- Which parts of this unusual time will we take with us into our next normal?
And the questions that bring hope to our souls:
- What positive changes have I seen in my children during this time?
- In what specific ways are my children growing as a result of being at home so much?
- What have I learned or observed about my children that makes my heart happy?
God will provide us with whatever brain functioning we need to ponder such questions. He is the giver of understanding (Jeremiah 33). He helps us to know the unknowable (Ephesians 3). The understanding He gives is pure and leads us to truth (1 John 5). We are blessed when we find wisdom (Proverbs 3) and we should go after it with everything we’ve got (Proverbs 4). God is fully familiar with COVID-Brain because there’s nothing new under the sun. And His offer to grant us understanding for the things that matter is Timeless.
Thinking about you,