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In March, I introduced my kids to the word unprecedented. It was hard to explain just how insane it was to watch the country shut down. I found myself exaggeratedly emphasizing that nothing like this has happened before (a history lesson about the flu pandemic of 1918 felt like a bad bedtime story).

The editor in me often balks at the use of the word unprecedented, which, like unique, is often deployed hyperbolically. Yet I’ve been saying it a lot this year. Schools closed down, camp was canceled, and so on. Unprecedented! Recently, I let the girls blow off bedtime to watch the first presidential debate, and could only describe the bad behavior as—unprecedented. Then the president was hospitalized with the coronavirus, weeks before the election. You guessed it: unprecedented!

When you’re only 10, many of the mundane things you witness are unlike anything you’ve seen before. And after months of hearing me say “This is unbelievable!” I can't blame my daughters for being skeptical when I explain just how upside down the world is right now. But I have a feeling 2020 has several more unprecedented moments in store for us. The next three weeks, especially. How do we prepare our kids (and ourselves!) for something we can’t anticipate and have never experienced? Is it better for them if I try to impart a sense of normalcy, or to emphasize the ongoing insanity of this year? Share your thoughts with me at andrea@time.com.

Best,
Andrea    
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