Self-Isolating My Family in Southsea: Day 16, Dragon-Hunting

Image shows a kitten leaning around a tree trunk to look at the camera.

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 16, A is home and preparing for her brothers’ return and Maddie is wrestling with a kitten that has serious cojones…

I had a full day with A on her own until S and Z were due back in the evening.  

She’d arrived home from her dad’s the evening before buzzing with a list of things she can do with her brothers this week. This is the first time in about 6 months she’s come home in a positive mood and I’m hugely grateful for that, given what an anxious weekend I’ve had. Her ideas included a giant picture of all our family they can work on together, learning a dance, going on a dragon hunt and having a sleepover in her brothers’ room. 

I had a video conference call scheduled at midday and boy was I organised. I’d showered, washed my hair, hung the washing out on the line, avoided the news and social media, and set A up with activities. But when I came downstairs 15 minutes early to join the WebEx meeting, I noticed the unmistakable aroma of cat poo. And of course, the kitten had crapped all over his leg and then run around the house smearing it everywhere. I had to pin him down and baby wipe his annoying, smelly little bum and then go around the house following the smell and clean up everywhere he’d been. Another lesson in how all the best laid plans can still come a cropper when you’re isolating with children and animals. 

In the afternoon I decided to let the little twat out into the garden. He cant be neutered and chipped until god only knows when. I know this because I called the vet last week to see if I could bring his appointment forward, and they’re only doing emergency surgeries for obvious reasons. Meanwhile I have a 4 month old kitten, sporting what the vet described at our last appointment as ‘very well endowed’ testicles, who’s throwing himself head first at the back door trying to get out and catch anything that moves.   

I figured if I sat there and watched him it would be ok. So I took a cup of tea out, A took her colouring out, but I forgot to factor in the ensuing chaos of her dropping the whole tub of colouring pens upside down into a flower bed and then screaming that she couldn’t pick them up because the woodlice might get her. It took less than 2 minutes for me to retrieve the pens, which is apparently the same amount of time it takes a 4 month old kitten with balls bigger than his brains to get over a fence.  

I stood on a chair at the fence trying to encourage him back with Dreamies. He toyed with me by coming close enough to eat the treat, but not close enough for me to grab. It took about 20 minutes, but I finally got him close enough to reach his scruff with one hand without falling off the chair, and the little prick is now back on full lockdown again. In lieu of performing the required surgery on my dining room table, I’ve ordered him a collar and tag, because launching himself at the front and back doors is now his favourite pastime.  

While I did a bit of work, A constructed a mystery monster course for when her brothers arrived home. There was a chocolate island, a lake of monsters, a lava pool containing a trophy challenge, a jumping course and an area for practicing lunges. She also attempted to teach the dog to read, and firmly believes she can achieve it by the time this whole Coronavirus thing is over. 

We took our permitted exercise on the scrubland behind the old HMS Fraser base on Fort Cumberland Road. I thought we might be able to spot some bugs and use it as an opportunity to think about the local environment and what else lives around us. Instead, A educated me on the ecology of the local dragon species. We found nests belonging to Fire Furies, Rock Spitters and Swiftwings. Each of them has a different type of nest apparently, and she knew which hole belonged to who. And no, it wasn’t rabbits or foxes, silly.   

She had extensive and consistent knowledge on how they live, eat, fly, and what they like to do with their spare time when they’re not on lockdown. The daddy dragons stay at the nest to guard the babies while the mummies go fishing for raw fish. When the babies are older the mum teaches them to hunt by flying with the kids on her back until they can do it themselves. 

Oh, I get it!’ I said. ‘It’s a bit like me teaching you to make cookies or Spaghetti Bolognese then? 

No,’ she replied, with that look she reserves for me when I say something blindingly stupid. ‘It’s nothing like that. Dragons have to learn to hunt to survive; if they can’t hunt, they’ll die. I dont have to learn to cook because you can do that for me. 


S and Z are home. My anxiety has decreased to manageable levels, even though I almost broke my neck because Z had left his rucksack on the stairs. As a bonus of the breast cancer treatments, I now have early osteoporosis and I’m terrified of breaking myself and ending up in hospital right now. But I’m still relieved to have them back.  

And breathe… 


Image by Kessa from Pixabay.

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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