“The weird thing about lockdown is how we all got used to it so quickly,” said my daughter, as we went for our regulation exercise the other night. “Humans are very adaptable, I suppose.”
And in one way she’s right – we’re all instinctively veering out and steering clear and wiping down and washing washing washing. But still. Every single day, at least once, it hits me like a tidal wave. An Oh My God moment. A sit-up-straight is-this-really-happening moment. And then the Oh Jesus, I don’t know if I can do this for three months moment.
Because there are still so many weird things about lockdown. So many big things, the ones we all know about. But so many tiny weird things too. Like noticing that the plant in the hall was dying, because I usually tip the kids’ leftover water into it – the water from the school bottles they no longer use. The cutlery that broke, because it couldn’t handle (pun intended) the constant use. The second-nature scattering of terms like “I’m zooming later” and “did you have to queue long to get into the shop” and “I don’t think Marlay Park is in our 5k” – things that would have made no sense at the start of the year.
The weirdness of not popping to the shop because we need something. (The possibly good habit of working around missing ingredients instead.) The easy slip into getting up later. And staying up later. The crazy busy mornings, searching for Seesaw codes, charging devices, chasing down truants, and trying to log into the free version of Twinkl – not any of the four paid accounts we accidentally set up. Attempting to write a book while sitting on a child’s bedroom floor. Begging and pleading and (silently) (almost always silently) (or at least mostly silently) cursing.
Then coming up for air, for the quieter afternoons, when homeschool is done and at least there’s no homework.
Then blink, and suddenly it’s dinner time. Again. And regulation exercise time. Again. And I’m out for a walk with my daughter, and she’s saying it’s weird how we all get used to it so quickly.
I tell her about a thing I think is weird about lockdown: it’s that it’s different for everyone and there’s no universal experience. I keep coming to conclusions and assuming others feel the same (Sundays in lockdown are easier/ the 2km to 5km didn’t make any difference/ homeschool at least gives a bit of structure) only to find that other people are having a completely different experience and don’t feel the same at all about Sundays or stages or structure.
Lockdown is like normal life on steroids. Some people are busier than they’ve ever been in their lives. Some people are bored to tears. Some people are stressed. Some people are lonely. Some people are fine. Some people secretly like bits of lockdown. Some people feel all of these things at different times every single day.
It’s a bit like that with the school debate too. Some kids are happy out at home. Some kids are lonely and sad and can’t wait to get back. Some parents feel better having their kids at home with them. Some parents want their kids to have school again, because their kids are desperately missing their teachers and friends. Some parents are worried about education. Some parents are worried about the lack of socialisation. Some parents are worried about the resumption of socialisation. Some parents need school for childcare and can’t easily manage homeschooling while working from home. Some parents are not working from home but struggling with homeschool, because it’s really hard even when you’re not trying to do anything else. Many parents go through every single one of those feelings every single day.
All of us are muddling through as best we can, with good days and bad days, regardless of how our lockdown experiences differ. And we all want what’s best for our kids, even if it’s not always clear what that is (even for those of us who were still holding out hope for a return at the end of June).
“If it was 100% safe to go back to school tomorrow, would you want to go back?” I asked my daughter as we walked home.
“Definitely,” she said. Then she thought for a moment. “Or maybe next Monday, so I could have a few days to get used to the change.” You can’t say fairer than that.