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 9, and the household is adjusting to a new rhythm – but is everyone marching to a different drum? Maddie tries to balance everyone’s time while still getting the washing done and working around a fort made of blankets.
We’re all now a stay at home community. The homeschooling hashtag on Twitter has been gold and seeing what everyone else has been doing with the kids has been heartening. Isolation is less isolating when everyone is doing it.
I woke up to A snuggled up in bed next to me. I barely had my eyes open before she started telling me she’d had very little sleep due to all the mothers there’s ever been in the universe talking to her all night.
‘In a dream?’ I said, trying to sit up and shift 22kg of prime dog from my lap. I mean, if you want breakfast, pinning me down to make sure you’re closer to me than the kitten isn’t going to help you.
‘No, silly, I said already. They kept me awake talking to me!’
Well, of course! How foolish of me. Apparently, they gave her some great tips about how to stay calm too, so we had a much better day than Mother’s Day.
As well as learning how to use a potato peeler, Z has also mastered going to the shops for us. I sent him into Lidl for AA batteries for the Wii remotes and bin liners, and he came out with exactly what I’d asked for. (If I sound surprised at that, it’s because I am.)
‘Imagine all the skills you’re going to have learnt by the time this is all over,’ I said.
He looked at me. ‘Lit, mum. By the time this is over I’m gonna know enough to be a lawyer.’
I think lawyers have to know more than using a peeler and buying bin bags. ‘Lit’ though, I’m not bursting his bubble; he’s finally back to his old self after his isolation-within-isolation. He’s currently ‘training’ for a Fortnite tournament on Wednesday. I agreed to this in that kind of eye-rolly, head-noddy, inhalation of air way that parents use when they don’t believe their kid’s 10 minute explanation of why they need to play more Fortnite than usual, but find their determination quite funny. We did a deal: if him and his mate win the £400 prize in the duo competition, he can play every day thereafter (not ALL day, obvs). If they don’t win then he takes a 3 day X Box break. Wednesday is going to be interesting.
S and A built a fort in the living room using every blanket in the house, several clothes pegs, (leaving me too few to hang the washing out), a box of cuddly toys from her room, pillows and a beanbag. In all fairness it does look fairly sturdy – for something made of blankets.
Trouble is, the fort requires the curtains in the living room to be closed at all times. And they want it to stay for the whole of lockdown. So… no. Because I do need to see sunlight. And also hang washing out. But I’ve agreed to leave it up for a few days as long as she agrees to do some reading with me in the mornings. Then I’m going to need to steer her into an exciting new game I just thought up of building a fort every day in a different room of the house. It can never be in the same place twice. Does that sound plausible? She doesn’t seem enamoured. She’s acting like she’s just saved up for her first starter home and I’ve arrived with a wrecking ball as a moving-in present.
S is using his free time to improve his parkour skills. Both of the boys have had a few lessons in the past with the amazing local Parkour Coach, Harley Elliot, and absolutely loved it. But S loved it more. It’s his thing, his blood is 90% Parkour. He first saw Harley doing it at a King Kong fundraiser at the Skatepark when he was 3 and he stood stock-still, transfixed. S never stands still, it’s almost physically impossible for him. If he has to stand in one place, he vibrates.
Z, on the other hand, spends as much time as is humanly possible lying down and not moving anything apart from his thumbs, to get the next You Tube video up. Trying to get them to do simple household chores is more of an effort than just doing it myself. One of them will lay on his bed and formulate a convincing but annoying argument, eloquently delivered, about why he shouldn’t have to clean the bathroom, or how he might have broken his ankle so he should probably rest it. The other one gets on and does it, throws himself into it with gusto, but within minutes he’ll be climbing up the wall with the vacuum cleaner to see if he can use suction like they do in Mission Impossible, with those sucky hand things that help people like Tom Cruise climb up the Burj Khalifa.
Thankfully, our permitted daily exercise usually provides plenty of opportunity for S to practice his skills – and burn off some of that excessive energy that keeps him pinging about from the moment he opens his eyes to the moment he closes them again.