Last week we received confirmation that my teenager will not be required to go back to school until at least September. My younger daughter is also unlikely to go back, because she is not in one of the listed years that may return in June.
I’m flitting between huge relief that we don’t have to make a decision about whether to send them in, sympathy for those that do (and for those who have no choice), and frustration and disappointment on behalf of my kids who are facing weeks and weeks more of the same.
They are coping brilliantly, but they miss their grandparents so much it hurts. They miss their friends, their teachers, the classroom environment, and they even miss all the kids that they would normally moan about. In other words, they miss normality, just like we all do.
Instead they have me. In fact, with the amount I’ve been eating they actually have me in double amounts. Well, physically anyway. Mentally I am functioning on significantly less cylinders than pre-lockdown times, but thankfully I only have to remember a handful of phrases these days, which tend to be variations of:
‘You may not be able to smell anything but I can. Get in the shower’
‘You’re not hungry, you’re bored’
‘It’s 7am, I’m not discussing pudding’
‘See if you can do it yourself’
And that’s just to my husband.
As for the kids, I’ve been encouraging them to keep a lockdown diary, hoping it would be a good distraction and also help with their writing skills. I told them all about the diary I kept as a teenager and hoped they would feel inspired. They did. They felt inspired to ask me whether I wrote it on a scroll, with a quill, and wanted to know whether it was now sepia coloured, since it had been written in the olden days.
After I’d reminded them who provided all the snacks around here, they agreed to listen while I told them of my visions of them as adults, reading the diary to their own children, describing all the difficulties and the poignant moments of these historic times. So they gave in and agreed to write one.
A few days later, I checked back in with them. So far, my teenager had written two things. Her name, and the lyrics to her favourite song. She had apparently been planning to write more, but was too tired from all the walks I made her go on, so it’s actually my fault. My ten-year-old however had written a considerable amount. Nothing about the times we’re living in of course, but plenty about how mean and unfair Mummy is for confiscating her slime, because it was obviously an ACCIDENT that she smacked her sister in the face. Although she also made the point that it was mainly down to her sister for putting her face there in the first place.
Based on this outcome, I thought we would go for Plan B instead. We would make a time capsule, filling it with things that would illustrate the life we’re living right now. I had already decided I was putting in a bottle of gin, my therapist’s number and a can of root-concealing hairspray.
The girls quite liked this idea and proceeded to make a list of what they felt should go in. First up was loo roll. I assumed this was a reference to all the panic-buying at the beginning of lockdown, but it turns out it was because my eldest had been caught short at two minutes to eight last Thursday, and had been forced to show her support for the NHS by clapping heartily from the toilet seat. Even when one hand became unavailable for obvious reasons, she insisted on slapping her thigh with the other one so that the neighbours could be sure she was joining in.
They also suggested putting in some dog poo, because of the time last week when Mummy accidentally trod in some and then walked it through the entire house before realising that the smell wasn’t Daddy after all.
Eventually we settled on at least some sensible things like newspaper clippings and photographs and it was complete. We ceremoniously buried the time capsule and went indoors, talking excitedly about when we thought someone might uncover it.
Precisely thirty minutes later we had our answer when our Labrador puppy came bumbling in looking very pleased with himself, with one paw stuck in the toilet roll and a newspaper in his mouth. We never did find the gin.
Bring on Bedtime!