(NBC News) – Millions of students are coming up on what would have been graduations and end-of-the-school-year events had it not been for coronavirus.
Amelia Leahy is just one senior who’s final year of high school has been cut short.
Her prom dress is unworn; the dance is off. So is the rest of lacrosse season.
“I was about 50 saves away from breaking a 20 year old record,” Leahy notes.
She understands why, but is also disappointed.
“It’s been such a big impactful part of my life, and a good part of my life that I don’t want to see it as over,” she says.
It’s not just seniors. Coronavirus is cancelling rites of passage for students of all ages nationwide, like saying goodbye to friends and teachers or moving to new grades or schools.
At the same time, parents are facing tough questions about what’s to come.
“Not being able to give answers is very difficult. It’s very hard,” says Kelly Leahy, Amanda’s mom.
“The first thing is to answer honestly,” Dr. Melissa Gilliam advises.
Dr. Gilliam is an adolescent behaviour expert at the University of Chicago. She says parents shouldn’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ or use storytelling to get at the emotions driving questions.
“You can say, this virus, this pandemic, reminds me of another story of what it feels like to be really scared, and this is how I managed it,” she says.
Playing games or puzzles gives teens and kids the chance to open dialogues.
“While we play something, while we do something, we’re focused. And it’s often in those moments, where these questions arise that may not have had the space to happen,” Dr. Gilliam explains.
Families can also recognize or recreate missed milestones.
Kayla Grace McSwain’s family brought prom to their front yard.
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