Song #5 of the 2020101 project: “These Four Walls”

Hello! Are you ready for Song 5 from The 2020101 Project? It’s here!

It’s called “These Four Walls.”

parents & kids

In our story collection, we heard from one group of people who had a very particular experience of 2020: parents, who had a lot to say about how this past year uniquely shaped the experience of family life.

From the parents of young kids who were suddenly thrust into …

  • trying to manage their work-from-home jobs as well as their kids’ online schooling
  • or scrambling for child care while they had to show up for their in-person essential work
  • or just never getting a break from the constant togetherness

… to parents of older kids who mourned with them the losses of milestone experiences of transitioning into adulthood …

  • no college tours
  • no graduation ceremonies from high school or college
  • no first jobs.

Every family, in some way, experienced a total upheaval of what they had expected the year to look like, and bore hardships they wouldn’t have known how to foresee or plan for before 2020.

Parents shared with us about how hard it was for them to see their kids experience social isolation, and to watch them long for activities like going to school, playing sports, and having birthday parties.

And also … they shared with us
about how resilient their kids were.

How they figured out how to adapt to the new normal, even when it was a struggle to do so.

How they faced the challenges of the time and embraced the unusual opportunities this strange time offered.

We heard from a lot of very proud parents of kids who grew ever more into awesome young humans this last year, despite — and in some cases because of — the obstacles and trials of living through a pandemic.

And we also heard about the increased frequency of dinners around the kitchen table together.
And movie nights.
And board games.
And lots of deep conversation, and lots of laughter.

There was a lot about this time that will unequivocally shape the adults that these kids are becoming. And so much that will indelibly mold the character of the families who went through this fire together.

How do you parent a child through a circumstance with which you don’t have any personal experience?

I mean, not only was the coronavirus itself novel to the human population, the experience of a global pandemic was a novel one for every person on the planet as well.

Parents shared with us what a unique opportunity it was for them to be able to teach and model — in real time — good mental health practices for their kids, as everyone in the house was experiencing the same uncertainty, discomfort, change, sadness, and overload at the same time.

From quotes like,

“Trust me, there’s plenty of tension,
and days when I can’t wait
to get the hell out of the house,”


“I wouldn’t trade the time
we’ve had together this past year
for anything,”


“My son was my greatest source of hardship
and my greatest source of joy this last year,”

… it’s clear that for parents and kids, 2020 was a year of learning how to live with often conflicting truths about the people we live with and love.

When everything that matters most to you in life is suddenly bottled up together under one roof, it can seem sometimes as though the bubbling effervescence of life contained in that space might threaten to blow that roof right off.

And, also … it can feel like the very crystallized essence of a unique, unforgettable, and precious time.

If you have a story to share about parenting in 2020, please email it to Jamie at

Throughout this 101-day-long project, we are creating a living, interactive document of people’s experience of 2020. Those stories, and all the songs from 2020101, will live on at

As always, we want to thank our Misfit Stars community. This is a group of people who support the work Jamie and I do in an ongoing way; and by doing so they’re enabling us to explore new and creative ways in which to use our talents to serve our community — including, of course, this 2020101 project. What a joy. Thank you, Stars. 

5 songs down, 6 more to go! Somewhere in the middle of this next song cycle, we’ll reach the halfway point of this project. Wild! Thanks for being on this journey with us. 

Love and everything that matters — shannon