Self-Isolating My Family in Southsea: Day 2, Lord of the Flies

Local parent, researcher and writer, Maddie Wallace, continues her daily diary describing the experience of self-isolating with her children in Southsea. It’s Day 2, and Maddie is reminded of Lord of the Flies…Read the first part of the series here.

Z woke up looking like he’d been at his weekly gymnastics class for a 24 hour marathon session. He still had no temperature but didn’t feel any better until he’d had some paracetamol and intravenous Coco Pops. Which will run out soon. 

Downstairs, in wider isolation, S had slept on the sofa – which for a 13 year old boy is a treat. He allowed his 5 year old sister to snuggle up with him and watch a film. I made the ridiculous schoolgirl error of thinking to myself well, this isn’t so bad after all. We can do a week of this. 


Within half an hour A was screaming. He’s winding me up became the siren of an emergency response vehicle parked in my head. I tried distracting her, reasoning with her, explaining that 99.9% of the time he wasn’t teasing her, but it all fell on deaf ears. Mostly because she was making so much noise, she could only hear herself.  

Our dog, Piggy, needed a walk. We headed to the beach after lunch, following the advice to avoid people and shops, and leaving Z locked down in isolation – but so locked into Fortnite it was hard to tell if he was feverish, or just frantic that he might lose. I took his temperature again just in case.  

There were loads of school kids out and about, riding bikes in groups or walking with their parents. Presumably some are also in isolation because one member of their household is sick, others perhaps are being kept off because parents can’t risk sending them. Everyone has their individual reasons for doing things during this new way of life. But whoever is buying 18 loaves of bread at a time can you please stop. None of the people picking up supplies for me since Sunday have been able to get me any at all. Or even yeast so I can work out how to make it for ourselves. Do you know what carbohydrate dependent teenage boys are like without peanut butter sandwiches?  

And then there was that briefing, where it turns out we’ll be doing this for 14 days. A had several meltdowns yesterday – the confusion about the change in routine sent her into a tailspin. Mix that in with her determination to believe that S is picking on her, and it’s the perfect storm.  

It was interesting watching her stick to this narrative, regardless of clear evidence against it. Its very like what’s happening all over social media. People arguing and stuck in their own confirmation bias. As a species, we make sense of the world with the stories our brains have already developed for a problem or situation. We then believe that story without question and defend it, because to let it be defeated by someone’s opposite confirmation bias is to surrender what makes us who we are as an individual: our identity. 

The whole of the UK has been entrenched in confirmation bias for the past 4 years, ever since the Referendum campaigns began. But now, instead of everyone arguing over Brexit, we’re arguing over Coronavirus. What to do, whether to isolate, and attacking those who don’t. Praising the government response, deriding the Government response. It’s like Brexit II: The Virus, a terrifying sequel. But let’s face it, Aliens, Terminator 2 and Empire Strikes Back have demonstrated that the sequel can take us to even darker places than the original. 

I’m trying to keep the peace in self-isolation by teaching my children how their brains try to convince them of what is right. I’m trying to avoid Twitter feeds where people are arguing, sensationalist media reports and anything from Katie bloody Hopkins. Nothing like this has happened before, even the top scientists around the world don’t know how it’s going to pan out, so Graham from Croydon clearly doesn’t have a clue either. None of us do.  

But it’s heartening that the global scientific community are circumventing their usual publication barriers and sharing their findings in an effort to help us all. This illness doesn’t care how much money you have, whether you voted Leave or Remain, what you think of Boris Johnson or Donald Trump, whether you’re vegan or if you believe the earth is flat. We are all going to be affected, everywhere on the planet. Hopefully what will come out of this is a bit more respect for each other. 

That will happen in my house today. A is always very emotionally distressed the first couple of days after a change in routine, but then she goes feral and happily skips about pretending to be a dragon. She’s already barefoot this morning. By this evening she’ll be naked. Her narrative will change, and her brother won’t be her tormentor anymore; he’ll be her hero again. Especially now he’s already discovered that playing the X Box all day is really boring and is teaching her how to build dens. 


Maddie will be sharing her experiences every day on S&C – you can find each day’s diary and all of Maddie’s previous articles for S&C here.


Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.


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