Sandhya Acharya: Children's Art in the Pandemic

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Sandhya Acharya has a window into how children are handling the pandemic through their art.

In a recent classroom project, my son had to list out the important events of his seven years of life. “I was born”, my son started drawing the picture of a swaddled baby. “I met my brother,” he noted next, drawing two stick figures of him and his brother playing. “I learned to walk, bike, ski” followed, and then - he took a square piece of paper and wrote “COVID” on it.

Every kid in his class had some version of this in their artwork. Some drew spiked balls representing the virus, some shaded the letters out in 3D. Some drew pictures of them getting shots at the doctor’s, and some asked me, through the layers of their masks, how to spell ‘vaccine’.

At first, I felt a prick of sadness. This is what it had come to. COVID had found a permanent place in the timelines of their short and precious lives. I wondered what scars they might carry when we, as adults, still struggle to comprehend all that has happened?

But then, as one by one, they handed in their papers, dropped the pencils back in the tray, and skipped away to chatter and play, I realized I wasn’t witnessing, as I had feared, a loss of childhood. I was witnessing the true nature of human resilience. Because resilience is not just about surviving. Resilience is about thriving.

Later, as I looked at the art wall filled with rows of colored paper listing the important life events of my seven-year-old’s friends, I imagined all the new pieces that still remained to be added. Maybe it’s time we take a cue from the kids. Maybe the best way to face our fears is to brandish our crayons, make art, and carry on.

With a Perspective, I’m Sandhya Acharya.

Sandhya Acharya is an author of children’s books.