Evan Gilbert, from Jersey City, said his 9-year-old son is a fan of Amazon wish lists and is still super excited about Christmas, even though it's early spring.
"He showed me his list last night and on his list was masks and gloves," Gilbert said, before pausing to hold back tears and compose himself. "I don't really care about losing the business when I'm looking at a lifetime of memory for my son that's gonna be full of fear. That's gonna be hard for a lot of people to overcome."
Gilbert and his wife Kate own a coding and programming school and used equity from the sale of their former Massachusetts home and a loan against a 401K to put towards the business.
"I'm sitting here worried about my financial situation and maybe losing a six-figure sum on a business, and 100,000 people aren't going to be with us this summer. Excuse my language, but what the [expletive] What the [expletive] just happened?" he said.
He said others viewed his son's wishlist as a helpful gesture, but Gilbert thinks this is the result of a traumatic experience.
"He's thinking about something enough to go on to his wish list and put masks and gloves as, like, a top priority for something him to have. You know, not video games, not computers or toys. PPE that you know is in short order right now," he said.
America's young people have grown up with school shootings, social media pressures, climate change and terror attacks. But the coronavirus pandemic could test a generation in ways they have never faced. One expert likens the impact to that of the Great Depression.
Studies have shown that "kids in these circumstances are thrust into growing up faster than is typical," said Aaron Pallas, a researcher at Columbia University.
It's still early, of course. But even younger children can sense that something unusual is going on.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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