As a parent, I have spent countless hours over the last 136 days of quarantine trying to find ways to understand, explain, and plan for the highs and lows of how to live through a pandemic with my kids, especially my 10-year-old.
But nothing — and I mean absolutely nothing — could have prepared me for the emotional gut-punch that I experienced watching his 3-minute short film called Numb by Canadian teen, Liv McNeil.
Inspired by a remote learning class assignment, she created her impressions of what the feeling of numbness looks and feels like while distant learning.
Before I say a word about what this film means. How it hurt to watch.
I need you to sit with it for three minutes and give it your full attention.
I showed this film to my 10-year-old son who has been struggling with depression throughout this pandemic.
He sat quietly and cried while watching the final moments of this beautifully conceived film. Her silent scream, he pointed out, is how he feels every day.
“Mom, I don’t know how to put that into words,” he said, pointing at the screen, “but that’s how I feel too.” and he crumpled into my arms and sobbed for the first time since this nightmare started.
As parents and grownups, we talk endlessly about how kids may fall behind academically, or how the economy will churn and thud to a deafening halt.
But not very much has been said as articulately and as profoundly as what Liv McNeil has expressed in her short film about the ravages on our kids’ mental health and emotional well-being.
The looping days of boredom mixed with urgency and fear, and the crushing weight of isolation all blurring together in a desperate silent scream that as I watched, I couldn’t help but feel in the pit of my stomach.
“I’ve definitely felt numb and sad about quarantine, but I know isolation has been affecting people in different ways,” McNeil told HuffPost Canada.
“This is just what I know from my experience.”
Her short film, aptly titled Numb has attracted much attention from media, school staff and officials, and parents all of whom seem to resonate with the film’s haunting take on how pandemic feels from the perspective of a child.
What is more impressive, however, is how the teen made the film.
McNeil took more than 480 clips over the course of 21 days to capture the short-stop action that shows the passing of time. And sure, she may not have a whole lot to do right now but the forethought and sensitivity to how to expertly craft a story is not missed at all in this truly astonishing project.
In an interview with HuffPost over Instagram, McNeil who is a student at Etobicoke School of the Arts in Toronto, Ontario, suggested that she and her brother may be up to another project, and honestly, we can’t wait to see what this brilliant young storyteller comes up with next.