My son was working on a - intro to himself paper for his teacher. Actually it was an odd poem form. One of the lines was - Hope - Joy - Existential Dread.
It makes sense. Most of the time, he's pretty happy. Even though he hasn't seen his friends in person since - March!
He's back in school - but only virtually. His friends that went back - didn't want to because - Covid - but he said they have a morbid humor about it. Apparently - they are all going to die from climate change - so why would it matter if they die a few years early.
The adult in me - is horrified. Children should NOT be thinking like that. On the other hand - I remember doing duck and cover drills for nuclear war when I was a kid, living in Los Angeles, - ground zero. All our parents worked in aerospace. And I remember - every time we did a duck and cover drill how stupid it was because - while hiding under a desk can save us from an earthquake - it can't save us from disintegration. My best friend Meghan and I agreed - if we heard the sirens go off for real (we had a noon test of the warning system daily), we would head to the beach and - die there.
My son and his friends existential dread - is horrifying as a parent - but also - kind of normal when I think back on my childhood.
I actually think my son's approach - that he is both hopeful and joyful and filled with existential dread - is just - normal for life. Whoopie, We're all going to die! That predates me. So does - How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb.
Living beats the alternative.