Lockdown With My Family in Southsea: Day 32, DEFCON 5 Averted

Local parent, researcher and writer, Maddie Wallace, continues her daily diary describing the experience first, of self-isolating, and now of being in lockdown with her children in Southsea. It’s day 32, Maddie has been continuing her ‘things I might do list’, has had a near cake baking disaster and the cat and dog are causing chaos. How will Maddie deal with today’s offerings?

Despite me having a small amount of work to do and some video calls to attend to in the morning, A was an absolute angel. She did some counting and weighing of Numicons and some schoolwork on her tablet but is still refusing to record a video for her teacher. She won’t even let me upload a photo of Robot Steve the Coronavirus Hunter to her school app. She can’t articulate why, but I suspect she’s going to be one of those people who likes to keep their work and home lives separate. Which makes me wonder what working life will look like for her generation. If nothing else, this virus has shown that some sectors can clearly work from home. Imagine how much social housing could be developed in abandoned business parks if our work lives change. Just saying.

We also had a very affectionate day. She wanted to sit and cuddle on a frequent basis. We had regular hugs in the armchair throughout the day; lots of heart-to-hearts about self-value, family and love, and there was a fair amount of face stroking and adoration too. It was a mutually respectful day throughout. You can’t carry on working when your child asks you for a hug, no matter how in depth your thought process is. PhD research and five year olds don’t really go hand in hand.

She also wanted to make cakes, so we did that too, from a cupcake mix she brought home from her dad’s. I’ve been making cupcakes and sponge cakes from memory since I was a child, so I don’t ever follow recipes. It’s 6oz of flour/sugar/butter, 3 eggs, and vary it depending on what flavours you want, or increase the amounts for a larger yield. I read the instructions too quickly and thought the 80g of softened butter was meant to go in the cake mix, only realising that it was for the butter cream icing after I’d mixed it with the contents of the cake sachet. It should’ve been 40g of milk. These mixes are meant to be simple, and maybe they are if you have your reading glasses on.

There was a brief moment, when I told her about my mistake, that A’s head looked like it might spin and explode, but she kept it together.

‘We can just have butter cakes instead of cupcakes!’ she said.

Stand down, reduce alert status from DEFCON 5; the danger is over.

The kitten has shown very little change in his physical activeness and desire to be outside since his neutering operation ten days ago, but he’s suddenly started wanting to sit on my lap again. Unlike normal cats, who tend to climb on gently, turn around a bit, maybe knead the spot to make it perfect, and then curl up for a long sleep, Cat Dayman literally throws himself onto my lap. It’s like he’s been airdropped in by a B52. He lands, curls and then passes out in a momentous, startling flash that makes you do a double take of your own lap, while wondering where the hell he came from. It’s just plonk – asleep.

The sun has been hitting the back of our garden for longer and longer each day, so I’ve started secretly scheduling work-related reading time outside in the afternoons. I say secretly, because if my brain finds out I’ve introduced some work structure on the sly, by changing my to do list into a suggestions of things I might do list, it’s going to be really angry about not being informed so it could create its usual procrastination propaganda. I’ve managed to trick it by focusing on being thrilled about the prospect of Vitamin D, and how good that is for people with osteoporosis, and my brain hasn’t noticed I’m reading philosophy texts instead of Elton John’s autobiography, which is all it thinks it wants to read right now.

Mind you, my brain might not have noticed the switch because sitting out in the garden to work is fraught with constant interruptions. If the cat goes over to next door’s garden to hang with his mates, the dog begins a tense patrol of the fence line, constantly whimpering and trembling, and occasionally launching herself into an overexcited frenzy if she hears one of the cats climb the fence. This has resulted in her landing on the recently pruned holly bush several times, and in one case cutting her stomach.

As I’d like to avoid any unnecessary vet trips during a pandemic, I have to make her go in the kitchen and lie on the doormat. I make her stay, go and sit back down, keep a sharp eye on her, make sure she’s settled and then pick my book up again. As soon as she senses that I’m involved enough with thinking about the philosophy of truth, she slinks back out and sneaks behind the bushes, only giving herself away when she next throws herself into the corner where the cat exits and enters the garden, and where the sharp and spikey holly bush resides.

In this way, I can manage to read about a page in two hours, and I’m very appreciative of that old but well-known trope: Never work with children or animals.


Maddie is sharing her lockdown 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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