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 5, Maddie is worried about Z’s mental health, Z is worried about not being tested and A has decided to live her life as a dragon.
Community spirit is a beautiful thing isn’t it? 2 people brought me bread yesterday, and today my wonderful friend Claire brought me a bag of supplies and wouldn’t let me transfer her any money. She’d asked me what sweets Z likes in the hope of cheering him up. In the bag of groceries was a separate present bag for him with lots of goodies including his favourite sweets and a Point Break DVD.
A is rationing her bag of giant chocolate buttons like Charlie before he goes to the chocolate factory, 2 at a time because they’re like chocolate eyes and she has 2 eyes. And I got a bottle of my favourite wine. I’ve never sipped wine with such appreciation. I made a glass last 2 hours while I cooked a chickpea and sweet potato curry with what I could find in the cupboard and danced to music. Alexa selected John Lennon’s Imagine for good measure, (and probably something to do with an algorithm, because I later discovered it was all over the internet). As I was singing along, I thought it would be amazing if this virus could bring people together, reignite community spirit and remind us that we’re all equal, all in it together. Bet John Lennon didn’t imagine that his dream would come about because all the people were having to live for today in isolation. I’ve changed the lyrics when I sing along to reflect this.
It takes a while to get used to not being able to just pop out for supplies. When I’ve walked the dog and gone past a shop, my brain is still doing an autopilot stock check of what we might be running low on at home, as it’s done for years. Then I remember I can’t go in. You have to make do with what you already have and be frugal. Maybe having to live like this for a while will be good for those of us in the west who take our consumer culture for granted. Why do supermarkets need to stock 17 different types of sausages when there are people somewhere else starving?
This is where the incubation period kicks in and the rest of us might start to develop symptoms. If Z even has Covid-19 that is. He’s very upset at not being tested and not knowing for sure. Having to isolate himself from us since Sunday just in case, which he has done without question, is beginning to really affect his mental health. He’s terrified that he might have infected one of us or his grandparents and thinks it will be his fault if he has. He doesn’t understand why the government aren’t testing everyone with symptoms. Does anyone understand that?
Not knowing exacerbates the lack of control people are already feeling at the moment. The panic buying is another symptom of people trying to maintain their sense of order in very disordered times. The fatigue I felt on Day 2 was in that category too. It was my what’s the point moment. I responded to that by trying to impose some structure to our days, some formal learning and a routine. The kids rejected that. Now that I’ve accepted that we have no real control over anything apart from how we behave towards ourselves and others, I feel a lot more relaxed. It’s refreshing to relinquish control.
So what if Z doesn’t want to do homework; he’s going through enough as it is. So what if A wants to be naked and live as a dragon; she’s happy. S is into parkour and regularly hangs upside down from door frames; I’m not overly enamoured with that, but I’ve been trying to stop him since he was tiny and it’s made no difference. He’s always going to be that kid who shouts Mum! when you’re walking down the street, and you turn around to see him up a lamp post or at the top of a tree.
I’m letting them lead with what they want to do, although I did have a moment of panic when I was on a video call and A asked me for glue. I got it out for her, and she skipped off. It was only then that the horror hit.
Wait! What are you gluing? Where’s the kitten?!
Luckily it was only several pieces of scrap paper being stuck together as a giant map of her new dragon world. A’s imagination is really flying now. She has a secret store cupboard in the kitchen wall full of special food for Fire Fury dragons like her, (see Rescue Riders). Every time I walk into the living room, she’s either jumping off the arm of the sofa trying to fly or wedged up to her waist under the armchair trying to make herself thin like paper so she can fly. I really want to share some of her video presentations on life, but she said they’re not ready for people to see yet because her voice sounds weird and we need to sort that out.
I tried to explain that we all think that about our voice on recordings, but she said, ‘No, you’re not listening! MY voice sounds funny! Yours sounds the same.’
Then she rolled her eyes at me and tried to use two pieces of paper as wings.
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.
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