NORTHPORT—In the trailer for the new PBS digital series SELF-EVIDENT which premieres on Monday, August 17, Moxie R., 10, has some important thoughts about being a kid in the era of COVID-19.
“I just like embracing my childhood, while it’s still here,” she says to the camera in the digital series trailer. “Embracing being able to order from the kids' menu because soon I’ll be 12 and I won’t be able to...”
With her bold purple glasses, Moxie is one of a diverse group of 10-year-old kids from all over the U.S. who were interviewed for the premiere episode, titled “Being Ten in 2020,” in which kids open up and talk about the ways they’ve adapted and stayed resilient in world upended by a pandemic. Some of their thoughts range from thoughtful to downright funny.
Moxie’s mother, Taylor, happened to be friends with some of the producers of the show, which is how she got involved. Residents of Rhode Island, Moxie and her family have ties to Northport, where her grandfather lives in Bayside and were up here for several weeks this past June and July.
Moxie just turned 11 this summer. “Being ten is in your pre-teen years, where you are kind of figuring out who you are and what you want to do in your life,” she said. “I loved being the oldest of my cousins, but not too old, so I was still in charge— but not too old to not be having fun.”
This is most definitely a weird summer to be a kid, as Moxie acknowledges; she hasn’t been able to see her friends very much. “They asked me how I was feeling about all this [COVID-19’s after-effects] and what have I been doing to calm myself down,” she said of the show’s producers. “While we were in Maine, I just played a lot with my cousins at the beach.”
The episode touches upon one important thing Moxie did this summer. With the help of her parents and younger brother Frank, she organized and led a socially distant Black Lives Matter protest in Bayside.
“We did make some flyers and print them out and were all out there in person, wearing masks,” she said.
Being interviewed remotely by the producers on Zoom didn’t faze her, as she and her friends had mastered Zoom even before the pandemic.
“Before this all happened, me and my friends started using Zoom as a way to talk. After school, there was still stuff we wanted to talk about and didn’t have time to, so at night, we’d all get on a Zoom chat and it was like being in person. So, we were already used to Zoom already.”
Having fun in a pandemic summer may seem an anathema to certain adults, but for kids such as Moxie, it is precisely that resilience that allows her to still feel optimistic about the future.
“I think this year can turn around; I don’t know if we’ll go back to hugging people again, but at least I’ll see my friends again,” she said.
Now back in Rhode Island, she still isn’t sure whether she’s going back to in-person school or remote learning, which starts September 14. “I think it’s gonna be great, because my teachers and my brother’s teachers have been really working hard to get school ‘back.’”
Watch the trailer where Moxie appears at the 1:46 mark.
SELF-EVIDENT is inspired by PBS’s 50th anniversary storytelling initiative AMERICAN PORTRAIT and is informed by the central question that PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT examines: “What does it really mean to be an American today?”
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org