Diary of a Lockdown: Week 9

Saturday

Yes, we’re in Mexico today, and it’s already a much better weekend than the last! We have a slow morning, followed by the usual scramble about for passports and the likes, before buckling up and eating crisps on the “plane”. Since our last travelling adventure we have sadly lost another two pieces of charity shop furniture – one to Sustained Urination Poisoning, the other to Death-by-Dive-Bombs. Thus, this weekend’s aeroplane is carefully crafted by the Eldest, using an old rocking chair, two children’s garden seats and a rocking horse! Miraculously, we land in Mexico City just after lunch.

DSCN2933
Buenos Noches, Amigos!

Here we eat nachos, drink fake sangria (orange juice and blackcurrent- not bad actually!), listen to a mariachi band and spend almost fifteen whole minutes colouring in – as a family. This, in its simplicity, feels like a very very rare moment of unified calm. It’s lush! The peace is soon rectified, however, as Husband makes a Piñata out of newspaper and a delivery box, and we watch from the side-lines as our little darlings positively batter a skeleton with a cricket bat. How quaint.

In the afternoon we go for a walk in the woods, cook fajitas and watch Coco. All in all, a much, much better way to start the week! Praise God!

Sunday

Apparently, we were one of the only groups who managed to meet online this week, as our Zoom service went ahead as planned. According to reports, however, at around 11am this Sunday the Church broke the internet! So many people were trying to meet that most simply couldn’t connect. Now that’s pretty impressive!

However.

I have to admit that around 11.30am, I really wished we had been one of them! The host put on a backing track and encouraged everyone to sing… unmuted. As our worship broke down into a chorus of strangled cats, squawking a different line at a time to a different tune, I tentatively suggested the host mute everyone and allow us to hear the song and sing along unheard at home? At which point, the Vicar-Formerly-Known-As-Husband’s-Training-Incumbent replied privately: “Please don’t… I’m crying with laughter right now, and I suspect Jesus is too!”

He’d turned his video off. Wise guy.

Too late for me.

Poker-face. Poker-face. PO. KER. FACE!

We get a bit of clarity about our house move today. We were meant to move a month ago and, given last week’s announcement, have been wondering what that means for us. (Now, you know how much I loathe the wondering!). Today, however, Husband manages to speak to the people in the Church move ahead of us and discover that they have no desire to vacate the property until at least July! Ah. I confess to being very disappointed at first hearing, but, remarkably less so after reading the Government guidelines on house moves and hearing their reasons! Apparently, the couple ahead of us were offered a removal date as early as last week, “after two big NHS Hospital moves”- and understandably declined to have their property handled straight afterwards! Government guidelines say all property must be packed by the owners and every touchable surface disinfected before and after removals. Of course, lockdown guidance also still states that the three touchy-feely children-under-six can’t be shipped off to their designated babysitters during the process… meaning it’s just a big nightmare in a van really isn’t it?! So. I am actually a lot happier for knowing it won’t be pulling up onto our driveway anytime soon. (Besides… who really wants to move house without Ikea?!)

Monday

This week is about coaxing the kids back into education. Last week, they broke. So did I. We all needed a break. This week, as I have energy and the re-emergence of enthusiasm, I know my body well enough to realise I better use it now while it’s here! So …

To begin the gentle coaxing, we make and write postcards to the grandparents from Mexico. Then they do a fact hunt in the garden with the promise-slash-bribe of chocolate eggs at the end. They explore Google Earth, do some Maths online and then watch an hour of Speedy Gonzalez because… well, because OLD cartoons are an education, right?! And then they play. Phew… All in all, it’s a good day.

In the evening, the Boy makes me laugh out loud during prayers. He whispers, ever-so-matter-of-factly; “Mummy, do you know Jesus makes us do bad things?”

“Pardon?!”

“Well, Daddy said Jesus lives in me. So if that’s true, then those times when I’m naughty and you tell me off; that must be Jesus doing it, not me!”

HA! Nice try, young ‘un. Nice try!

Tuesday

Evacuee day!

Last week, the Eldest’s homework was about the Second World War. I could not get her to write a dot. So, today, we play to strengths. We make gas masks and boxes to carry them in; evacuee name tags, Identity Cards; we even pack suitcases and build an Air Raid Shelter in the garden. The kids get dressed into school uniform and I allow them to dress me in whatever they see fit! We all get on a train- (me as their teacher)– and arrive in the country side to be inspected by various residents who deem them too smelly to take home. Eventually, old Mrs Robinson, with no sense of smell and a windy case of IBS, takes them home with her. I swear they like this batty old lady more than they like me!

She sends them to the greengrocers where they are scandalised to learn they can only have one egg each and just enough bread for soldiers. (I think this rationing thing could really work in our favour this week!) She does, however, sneak them a packet of jelly, in a kindly act that I’ll come to resent her for later. After lunch, the kids go to a makeshift school in the village hall, where they have to do phonics and maths out loud because the school was bombed and there’s no pens or paper left. Again, they are way more engrossed for the teacher they dressed this morning than they have been for a while!

This is great.

This is great.

This is reaaalllly… starting to grate on me?!

We go for a walk in the afternoon and they insist on calling me Mrs Robinson. Loudly. I explain the rules of role play- I’m not wearing my headscarf! Still… I’m Mrs Robinson. In the evening they want to sleep in one room, a la Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and so, by 9pm, I’m still Mrs Robinson and they’re still not asleep.

This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind…

But hey. I do genuinely admire their limitless capacity for imagination!

Wednesday

Ok.

I think I need to drop a bomb on Mrs Robinson!

The kids have shouted her name repeatedly all morning. What’s worse, Husband – “the nice young man down the road with the asthma, bless him, such a shame!”– also finds sport in the old dear and is becoming a bit of a pervert, quite frankly. The kids declare that the jelly is ready, and Husband reminds farty old Mrs R that he’s “ready for her jelly any day,” if she knows what he means. She does and she is NOT amused!

I tell the kids we’ll be getting the train back home now – hooray!- and the Eldest starts to cry. Real, genuine tears. Again. It’s at this point that I realise that, while it’s nice they’re having so much fun during a pandemic, we have somehow made the idea of global war much, much more fun than it’s supposed to be!

Hmmm.

I don’t think I can actually drop a bomb on Mrs Robinson, given the Eldest’s fragile emotional disposition, but I do need to do something to end the jolly nice party they’re having during wartime! Go to bed debating how best to play it…

Thursday

Right. I’ve got my headscarf on but they’re not to go to the greengrocer today. “Poor woman just lost her son- see his name’s on the list!- lost her husband in the last war an’ all. Poor soul.” So there’s NO SNACKS today. Rations are tight. Next, the Air Raid Sirens go off and this time, the Church Hall has been bombed, so they can’t go to school. (Close to the bone, I know!) Instead we sit outside and colour in pictures of poppies while I read some Horrible Histories.

Laying it on a bit thick, maybe, but it does the trick! By lunch time they’re both starving and sad. The Eldest declares, “I HATE war! I never want to be in a war ever again!”

Well, that’s better.

Of course, once she’s decided, she bursts into tears and demands we go home now. RIGHT NOW. Before climbing into my lap and refusing to let go. Wow. At least I didn’t kill Mrs Robinson, hey?!

We spend the rest of the afternoon watching The Railway Children (my parents said it was set in WW2… it’s not… but it was nice, all the same!), and The Sound of Music.

Well, why not?!

Friday

On Friday, Keen and I have a Zoom meeting with a Charity organisation, to try and get funding for our Messy Play group. It’s months since we actually ran it, saw each other in person or had any idea where we are up to with it! The meeting lasts an hour and a half and we don’t get any money. Nice as it was for some adult conversation and a recollection of purpose, I am absolutely exhausted afterwards and need paracetemol to clear my head. Once again I have had a short glimpse of what Husband does in there all day, and genuinely feel for him. What’s more, I can’t even imagine what it’s like for those who are trying to home-school and work from home at the same time. Hats off heroes; I wholeheartedly salute you!

Now. Back to it. I manage to get the Eldest to finish her Fact File on World War 2 for school, before letting them run wild and free. It’s been quite an intense week! I am looking forward to an afternoon sitting in the garden with my latest book, whilst the children laugh and play nicely in the background…

Ha! Aren’t we all?!

Except that Toddler is now two. I mean she was two before, but this week she’s really, really two. This week we have had tantrums galore, and the hardest thing about them by far is trying to keep a straight face! I’ve been swung at for flushing her wee down the toilet; for calling her Elsa when she meant to be Anna (in her Elsa costume); and, most hilariously, hit over the head with a copy of Horrible Histories for NOT eating her ice cream for her. I mean, seriously, try not to laugh while you tell that off!

She will no longer potter around the garden while I read or sand furniture (boohoo!); nor will she sit with some playdough or pencils while the others work. In fact, she is no longer so enthralled by her siblings that she stays in their presence, even when they include her; she just doesn’t play in one place. She disappears without a sound and she climbs EVERYTHING. I mean she used to climb everything, but now she climbs EVERYTHING. Three times this week, Husband brought her downstairs after she had disturbed his Zoom meeting during lessons. “But… she’s watching Frozen in the lounge with the gate shut?” The fourth time, I followed her… yup, she’s CLIMBING OVER THE STAIRGATE- both the bottom and the top. Twice, she went up to climb on top of my highest chest of drawers, retrieve my lipstick and cover herself with it; the third time, finding it moved, she took to painting her lips with nail varnish! Absolutely everything has been moved on top of the wardrobes, out of her reach (and mine). I swear, we did not have this level of ape-ness with the other two! Downstairs, it turns out that the very highest point in the lounge containing the big bag of choking hazards is also now within her spider-monkey reach. I’m seriously running out of places to put things!

Which, you know… makes the official decision I made not to send the Eldest back to school, nor the Boy back to preschool next month an interesting one! Still… there are more important things than education, right?!

Keep them safe. Keep them happy. Just you know… try to do it all at the same time?!

Thank God for wine!

Much love, thanks for reading! xxx

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