That Thursday, 2 weeks ago…
Realise that the schools are closing tomorrow. Do the Middle-Class-Parent version of panic buying and spend an obscene amount of money playing craft-supply-sweep at The Range. Also have the pandemic version of a parental panic, as neither preschool child will stay contained in the trolley; both climb out, run down the aisles, touch e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, and require two separate trips to the public toilet. I realise once more why I never, under normal circumstances, take them shopping- and why we won’t be going out in public again for a very, very, very long time!
Husband is coughing. A lot. He insists he isn’t. (Between coughs). I mean, he’s unlikely to win an argument at the best of times but this attempt is almost comical.
Husband gets up in the night with said cough and is caught red-handed, in the bathroom, pumping away at his inhaler. “I don’t have covid!” He exasperates in my direction. “No. But you do have asthma!” I return, annoyed that it needs pointing out. The argument heats up again, during which the danger to himself, others, the NHS, us- his family -and our completely anti-feminist dependency upon him for survival, fall upon finger-blocked ears. At which point there is only one thing left to do.
I pick up the phone and threaten to call his mother.
Husband is now self isolating.
Monday, week 1 …
P.E. with Joe Wicks– exercising together in the living room as a family?!- This is ace.
Sit around the kitchen table and start to introduce home school. Hear the familiar refrain “But Mum-” so many times that we break into song, (“But-Mum lives in the family tree, with her But-but-but Husband, and her But-children, 1-2-3!”), and decide to name our home school “Saint But-Mum’s academy”. This goes down very well with the enthusiastic troops. The eldest takes charge of making a register and a behaviour chart and the middle one takes his appointment as ‘Snack Monitor’ very seriously indeed! (This snack box thing turns out to be genius… he boxes up everyone’s snacks in the morning and they have to last the day. Absolute. Game. Changer. This is a keeper!)
I think I’m dying.
No, no, that’ll be the the P.E. with Joe Wicks thing. Man, I’m unfit!
Things are going well.
English, Maths, (largely from Lett’s books) Bible Study, (we’re loving this Superhero Character Training scheme by Liz Mallay!); a bit of Science or art or whatever they fancy; outdoor play; classes via Youtube… I’m excited, they’re excited… ahhhhh but don’t get cocky, But-Mum…. Where’s the two year old?!
(On this occasion: sat on her brother’s bunk bead covering her face in Sudacrem. Hey ho, you can’t win ’em all!)
Decide to spend more time on activities for the two year old today. Incorporate messy play into lessons. She wanders off after 5 minutes; it takes 50 to clean up. We read ALOT of Peppa Pig books while the others sketch. Finally, I get wise and ask the 6 year old to read it- two birds, one stone!
All three absolutely love Rock Kidz Live on Youtube and have fun copying the silly challenges and head-banging around the living room to the songs. Youth work at it’s best!
Evening: join some friends for a pub quiz on Zoom- socialise, have fun AND sit on the couch, with no need for a babysitter?! Begin to wonder why none of us have thought of this before…
(Said Friend zooms in his half naked younger brother, who clearly didn’t expect to see strangers… maybe this is why?!)
Husband’s day off! Siphon off some time with the eldest one and upcycle a bookcase into a doll’s house for her new bedroom, (whenever that much-awaited April house move takes place!) This was going to be an evening project, squeezed into my limited post-bedtime hours, solo. Instead, having all of this time to fill, we created it together. She is super proud of it- and so am I!
In fact, at the end of week 1, this pretty much sums up my current approach to the situation. I actually feel really grateful for the opportunity to spend more concentrated time with my own kids! Not to mention Husband, who is now actually in the house every evening for bedtime, bath-time and beyond. The kids have amazed me with what they already know and understand about various topics; how they communicate and understand their own faith; how keen they are to learn- and teach!- and how beautifully their little characters are growing. (I’m a Stay at Home Mum, and yet I’ve still found myself far too busy to notice these valuable intricacies about my own children, of late.)
I mean, don’t get me wrong…
We’ve had a lot of pee on the carpet.
And various beds.
And even, one time, the kitchen table. (Gross).
The youngest is rarely seen in clothes; she disappears upstairs and comes back with an expression that can only read, “and tonight, But-Mum, I’m going to be…” before displaying her swimming costume/ ballet garb/ princess dress/ sister’s clothes/ brother’s pyjamas/ bare naked butt… and spends the rest of the time outside, getting it dirty and/or peed in, before coming back in for more.
The eldest screams in a tone of voice that she can only have learned from me, (the shame!), and the boy seems to have a flick switch between Darling and Damien that he operates secretly, and without warning.
All the usual stress-triggers just seem so much more trivial than what’s going on in the world outside. And time. Time seems so much more fruitful when you’re less distracted; when you’ve nowhere else to go and no-one to see. Child-parent relations just seem so much more manageable, more acceptable, when you’ve no one else to compare to or be embarrassed by! And it all just seems so much more beautiful, really; this short, sharp (often farcical!) stage of life; when you’re suddenly so acutely aware of your shared mortality.
I apologise if this has been the wrong thing for anyone to read- and pray that it wasn’t! Go in peace, friends. (Or rather… stay at home, safe and serene! Unless, of course, you’re a key worker.. in which case, I applaud you! Thank you xxx)