1988, the Rapture and the dangers of masking
Like most children of the 80s, I endured and survived the quirkiest of decades. I wanted to be cool like Punky Brewster, longed to have an alien friend like Alf, turned my nose up at the kids who traded Garbage Pail Kids, owned an excessive amount of neon, was skillful in tight rolling my jeans, perfected the huge, curled bangs doused in AquaNet, rocked out to Paula Abdul and declared that I was “such a brat!” as I posed in head-to-toe LA Gear.
I also survived a lesser known, but equally important event, the highly anticipated rapture of 1988. Apparently, back in the day, there was some dude named Edgar Whisenant who was a NASA engineer and “bible student” who became convinced that Jesus would return to rapture His peeps in 1988. The evangelical church caught wind of this and TBN began giving its viewers tips on how to prepare. (Short of binging on fried chicken, nutty bars and pina coladas, I’m not sure what other preparation is necessary…personally.) In 1988 I was a regular attender of a large Baptist church with my black patent leather shoes, puffy dresses and even puffier bangs. I was scared silly when people…trusted adults… started talking about euthanizing their pets and doing other asinine things before Jesus descended from the clouds on 8/8/1988…the forecasted day of the rapture. Because Jesus is like…so on brand with the numbers thing.
Well…spoiler alert. Either 8/8/88 came and went, or we’re all living in some sort of post-rapture existence where literally nobody was actually raptured…except, I guess, for the people who randomly died that day. My money says there was no rapture.
While I survived the anticipation and the rapture-that-never-happened and the well intentioned yet theologically challenged Baptist church, I am still somewhat scarred by the fear imparted in me during that time. As an 8 year old kid, I heard terrifying accounts, from adults, about what the rapture would look like. My brain was not adequately developed at that time, nor had I had enough life experience, to properly discern fact from fiction. Would my dog die? Would my best friend go to hell? Would the rapture hurt? Would Satan be there hissing fire and melting people’s eyes out? I’m in my freaking 40s now and I still remember feeling absolutely petrified as adults tried to prepare kids for our imminent departure from this world.
So…this got me thinking about the subject of masking. Hold tight, I’ll connect the dots.
I’m hearing from a lot of parents who are worried about the emotional trauma that masks are causing their kids. While I understand the concern, there continues to be overwhelming data to support the safe and effective use of masks to protect ourselves and our kids from getting covid, spreading covid and potentiating the pandemic into infinity. That said, I don’t love wearing masks. I don’t even like it. I’ve been wearing a mask all day, every day I’m at work since March of 2020. And to Target, and to Homegoods…and…nevermind, those are the only two places I go. Sure, the straps aren’t super comfortable and my face gets dewy from breathing into a mask, but I am still able to climb 8 flights of stairs, have normal conversations, think clearly and hide my coffee breath after lunch…which is a win for everyone.
Surgeons have been wearing masks for prolonged operations for decades. Neurosurgeons wear masks for hours while they are dissecting the tiniest of vessels and structures and we have not seen any long term adverse effects or poor surgical outcomes from this. As someone who has a decent knowledge of arterial blood gas, PCO2, PO2, ventilation, oxygenation and respiratory mechanics, I have no qualms about my kids (or myself) masking. Now there are people with very specific medical or psychological conditions who simply cannot tolerate masks, but those people are exceptionally rare and the general public should have no problems tolerating masking, particularly if the end game is fewer people hospitalized or dead and a faster path to get us out of this pandemic.
Now, all of that said, I’m going to be really honest here. I don’t love that my kids have to wear masks. Every time I look at my sweet 4 year old in her little unicorn mask, my heart breaks a little that her childhood is being marred by a stupid pandemic. I mean…what are the odds? Why are my kids the ones who have to endure this? It freaking sucks.
But you know what? My kids have never complained about wearing their masks. They are often the ones to remind me to grab my mask and I usually have to remind them that they can take them off when we’re home or in our car. It simply doesn’t bother them. So I’ve been pondering the disconnect to explain why some kids are traumatized by masks and why some don’t even seem to notice them. I suspect the difference is the message, delivery and explanation that is coming from adults. If we are telling our kids that wearing masks is dangerous, will make them sick or will cause other terrifying outcomes, well of course they are going to be emotionally traumatized. If we, on the other hand, provide factual information, sound reasoning and remind our kids why wearing masks is important, they will feel empowered and know that they are part of the solution to get past Covid-19. When I was growing up, my parents taught me about teamwork, putting others before myself and sacrificing for the greater good. In fact, they would tolerate nothing less. These are basic, fundamental, humanitarian principles that support everything from laying down a sacrifice bunt, to donating to the Salvation Army to wearing a mask. My kids fully understand that when they put on a mask to go out in public, they are doing so to protect the people around them and to slow the spread of the virus. Instead of living in fear of masks, they are confident and informed. And in a situation that often feels hopeless, they know that they are actively contributing to the solution, which I have to believe impacts their overall wellbeing.
I hear your concerns. I’m a mom for goodness sakes. I worry about everything…except for being raptured. If you have specific questions or concerns about your kids and masks and vaccines, I would recommend reaching out to a trusted pediatrician, pulmonologist or family medicine doctor who uses evidence based principles to guide decision making. Or shoot me a question. We need to be focusing our anger and energy on the virus…not each other. Let’s help each other like we did back in the day when our parents taught us that when we worked together, we could do anything.