“Who’s Watching What You Dish?”

Poem Inspired by Our Humanity

I like to think of us as a bunch of Russian dolls scurrying around our planet Earth: We have our many different versions of us. As a colleague recently noted in response to a compliment I gave her LinkedIn profile, “Everyone looks great on LinkedIn. No one sees what goes on when you go off the LinkedIn grid.”

Many of us who are fortunate enough to still have employment during COVID-19 have grown quite comfortable emerging the pajama-clad Russian doll. And when we have ventured out into our new world, we can often be observed sporting a facemask, our eyes now doing a great deal of talking for us. Draping our face with a mask is, according to both the CDC and WHO, recommended to reduce the spread of COVID-19. So the mask wearing is displaying our Russian doll of respecting others and ourselves.

Our world is filled with our respective Russian dolls. After all, the way we might talk to our best friend is not necessarily the way we would speak to our doctor or bank teller. But there’s one group of people that are watching all of the Russian dolls each of us inhabit in a day: children. 

Each new generation comes into our world as a spiritual clean slate. They digest the messages we serve—whether directly or indirectly. Our planet is clearly on the cusp of significant transformation. Now, more than ever, it is up to each of us to consider what we are dishing out to the world around us—especially children. They are watching us in all of our Russian doll manifestations, ingesting the words we might throw down without a second thought like a frozen pizza. 

Remember when you had to look up to see the kitchen counter, an adult’s seemingly huge arm reaching up effortlessly for a plate on the top shelf? The world was fresh, exciting and memorable then. Just as we were listening to understand that world and drawing conclusions based on what we heard from the “grown ups,” so too are the children today. Only now, social media and technology make information arrive at lightning speed, causing a potential tsunami of indigestion if we don’t take the time to both process and consider what Russian doll of ourselves is showing up in the world to our young people.

There’s an African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” Here’s the truth: at the center of each of those Russian dolls, we are all children. When we remember this, we work together—the best dish for the planet.

Food for Parents and Kids of All Ages

During this pandemic, while doing our part to stay home and flatten the curve, I stumbled upon this poem my son had written at nine years of age. The genius of this assignment is its simplicity, it’s ability to extract one’s perceptions and personality preferences through present tense verbs: I see, I cry, I dream.

While many of us are still homebound, I encourage you to nourish yourself and your family members with this poetry “workout” of sorts.  We have all seen the GIF pictures flooding social media now of people going into their respective fridges every ten minutes, irrationally hoping to find something new to eat. 

But more often than not, we are hungry for connection and understanding—particularly during this unchartered world of COVID-19. Why not try to feed yourself and your loved ones by fostering that connection and understanding via poetry?

Here’s what I’ve created:

I am apart but never alone.

I wonder if our new normal will ever feel normal.

I hear the news in the background like a garbage compactor that never shuts down.

I see hope in the angels on the frontlines fighting to save humanity every day.

I want the pandemic to unite, not divide us

I pretend I can go to my mailbox without fear

I feel for the planet

I worry about what comes next

I cry for humankind

I understand my parents more each decade

I dream about sitting in a restaurant with family and friends

But the most important thing I do is see each day as a new opportunity

                       My Son’s Poem in 3rd Grade