It's extraordinary how many ordinary things we get to do in New Zealand while the pandemic flares beyond our borders.
We're hosting mid-winter Christmas parties; dinners with friends; major life events such as weddings and funerals and inviting whomever we want (provided they're already within our borders).
And this time of year, college students are attending career fairs. They're part of a succession of events designed to help young people answer the question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?"
I wish I knew the answer to that question.
And I certainly can't fill in the blank for my daughter.
Miss 16 thought she had post-college life sussed. First, a gap year abroad, then, university.
Covid's thrown a planet-altering curveball. Hardly anyone is travelling abroad and we don't know when we'll regain the luxury of boarding a triple-seven to fly across the world. Au pair in Europe? Maybe someday. Who knows when. Teach English in Asia? Maybe someday. Who knows when.
Weeks when exams and homework are stacked higher than the recycling bin and classes seem extra tough, my first-born wants to throw in the towel (the one that's been on the bathroom floor three days).
"I don't want to go to uni," she declared. I told her that was fine, but she would need to get a job, and might want to think about working at something that interests her.
I've said she won't get paid for one of her favourite activities - watching YouTube videos. I rethink that statement and search online.
And while there are roles for content moderators and quality analysts, the job description states the positions entail reviewing "graphic, controversial, and sometimes offensive video content in line with YouTube's Community Guidelines". It doesn't sound like you'd be watching baking shows and makeup tutorials, but instead, seeing awful things you can't unsee. Strike it from the list.
I vacillate between fear of the empty nest and fear of adult children who never leave. An acquaintance recently told me he knows someone selling her home because her 25-year-old son won't move out.
Presumably she'll downsize without leaving a forwarding address. That's desperation.
We're not at that point. I feel for teenagers on the cusp of adulthood who believe their lives are on pause. They don't have perspective honed by weathering past recessions and other global crises.
Then again, only the centenarians among us have been around long enough to have lived through a pandemic of this magnitude. We may not know the toll of Covid's sick and dead for years, if ever.
Should I encourage my children to seek careers most likely to survive a recession?
BusinessInsider.com says professions that grew during the Global Financial Crisis (starting in 2007) were massage therapists (up nearly 31 per cent), physician assistants (up 21 per cent), and mental health counsellors (up 15 per cent).
Other fields that saw gains were municipal, licence and court clerks; logistics workers; guidance counsellors; pharmacists, plus an array of healthcare workers including nurses, home and personal care aides, paramedics and medical secretaries.
Other recession-proof careers include funeral and hospice workers, accountants, firefighters and law enforcement officers, utility workers, educators, librarians, auto mechanics, IT workers and grocers.
Industry site Ibis World reports revenue for New Zealand supermarkets, grocery stores and convenience stores is expected to grow "modestly" during the next five years.
Business and career experts say make a plan but prepare contingencies. Consider multiple paths for the future. This could include working for a private company, a non-profit, a government agency or grabbing short-term contracts when they're available.
Economists say workers who best weathered the Great Depression of the 20th century had government jobs.
The issue for adolescents trying to plot their futures isn't just planetary chaos, it's being inexperienced. It's not understanding the vastness of what they don't know. We expect young people to pick a path even if they lack training to make big choices.
So make small choices. Get out of bed on time. Wear clean clothes and pack your lunch. Choose subjects that may be helpful and pick others for fun. Try on a job for a day, week or year. Experiment with business ideas. Head to university, a technical institute, job or create your own enterprise after college, then stick with it. Or decide it's not for you.
Change your mind. Just don't plunge yourself into decades' worth of debt. Nearly every decision at this age can be undone, except for the $60,000 student loan for a career path you later decide you don't want.
How do you make a 10-year plan when we don't know what'll happen next month? It's a tough time to start exercising control. And a tough time to try to decide what you want to be when you grow up, no matter your age.
Choose a career path? Maybe someday. Who knows when.