My ten year old son had two baseball practices last week. It was the first time that he’d seen anyone his own age since March. It was the furthest thing from normal, considering all the safety requirements that have been introduced to Little League, but it was psychologically beneficial.
He’s been asking with increasing frequency about school possibly resuming in August, and I can tell that he wants reassurance that it will. His summer camp, which he absolutely loves, was canceled this summer. He wants to see his friends.
But he also worries about the COVID-19 virus and he follows the news closely. Yesterday, he saw President Trump saying on television that he’s going to get mad at any states or districts that don’t reopen schools for the fall. It was a point Trump made on Twitter, too.
This had the effect of making him instantly change his mind about the advisability of opening schools. The reason is simple. My son has observed the president closely throughout this crisis, and he’s come to the conclusion that nothing he says is true and that nothing he predicts will come true. He’s also decided that taking Trump’s advice on anything is a bad idea. The man has pushed a dangerous anti-malarial drug onto the public and caused his supporters to poison themselves by ingesting disinfectants.
If Trump says it’s safe, the only assumption my son can make now is that it’s not safe.
No doubt, he’s influenced by his parents’ feelings about the president, but when I listen to my son talk, he’s usually riffing off of things he’s seen or read, not regurgitating some rant he heard from his mother or father. Trump lost his credibility with him on his own.
Based on the polls, this seems to have happened in more households than my own, and it hasn’t been restricted to people too young to vote. People are looking around and noticing that other countries have knocked their infection rate way down. Now they’re telling Americans that we can’t visit them. America has become a giant prison, and it’s a blow to our self-esteem.
There’s no chance that my son will ever trust Trump to keep him safe or give him good advice or tell the truth. He’s young, but he has enough experience already to know better. It looks like the country increasingly feels the same way.