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 days 33 – 35, Maddie has been keeping up with her self-care routine, she celebrated Malbec World Day with her friend over a video call, and the cat has been causing havoc again.
Having a bath is my number one self-care choice. I don’t mean getting in the bath, having a wash and getting out – I mean staying in there for 2 or 3 hours, loads of bubbles, topping up the hot water, reading, candles, lying with my head under the water and my feet up the wall meditating. Self-care and decadence. That kind of thing.
Because S and Z were such physically active little boys, I stopped having baths over a decade ago if they were in the house. There’s nothing remotely relaxing about having a bath while worrying about the significant risk of harm the cat would be facing in my absence or trying to work out what that repeated thumping from their bedroom could be. When I said they were physically active that was just a polite way of saying they were next level, chaotic Tasmanian Devils.
Baths became a weekend treat. And only on the weekends I’m home alone. I sometimes jump in with A in the evening, but for a quick wash, not a luxury bath. On Friday it was raining. Chucking it down. A wanted to know what that meant, so I explained, and we listened to the rain hitting the corrugated outhouse roof.
‘It’s raining cats and dogs,’ she said.
‘Hammering it down,’ I agreed.
‘It’s like the sky is having a big wee. It’s weeing down.’
‘Yes, it’s pis — let’s have a bath, shall we? Nothing better than a nice warm bath in the middle of the day when it’s raining.’
It was the first thing that came to mind, it was my suggestion, but I still felt like I didn’t want to share that bath. I didn’t want to relinquish the one thing I have for me in the chaos and mayhem. I did though, and it was probably the best bath I’ve ever had. A put some relaxing music on her iPad, (her idea, not mine). We had a huge heart to heart about what worries her, a science lesson on water displacement, and how because I’m heavier, (OK, thank you, yes there’s been some coping with lockdown using wine in the evenings), I make the water level lower by standing up than she does. She taught me her bath game, Clap Slap Slap, where you clap once, and then whoever is it chooses how many times you must gently slap the water with your hands.
It was unclear what the outcome of the game was meant to be, or how you win it, but after a couple of rounds, it became apparent how very addictive just slapping the surface of warm water with your hands is. It’s rhythmic and therapeutic. I no longer cared what we were meant to be doing or sought guidance on why I was doing this from the five year old. I just sat there, gently slapping the water in sensory bliss.
Friday was Malbec World Day; did you know that? Not World Malbec Day, it’s not an official UN thing like International Woman’s Day, or International Tuna Day, but Malbec World. I have two very good friends I sometimes go out for Sunday roast with. We’ve been doing it for years when the kids are away. When I can afford it, we go and try a roast in a new place, or a favourite regular place, drink Malbec and put our worlds to rights. So, when Claire and I discovered about eight months ago there was a day of celebration for Malbec, we both booked the night together on our calendars and planned to drink Southsea dry of one of our favourite reds. A day celebrating Malbec is something we would have started ourselves, had we not been so busy sampling it instead.
In lieu of pubs and personal interaction, we met on a screen instead. It’s not so bad, and there’s less background noise when you hang out on your sofas together, which is great if you’re meant to wear hearing aids but haven’t used them for over a month because your kids are so loud.
Later, having consumed *some* Malbec, I was catching up with Westworld and there was a scene where one of the characters thought she was in a simulation, but then found out that she was in fact in Singapore.
I scoffed and shook my head. ‘As if they could’ve got to Singapore in this lockdown. That’s not really a plausible storyline.’
This is all becoming so normal that to see crowds on TV, or people doing things like hugging or travelling around the world, seems utterly bizarre. How are we going to have regular, face to face conversations after all this? We’ll have become accustomed to standing directly in front of people on a screen, and when in larger groups we’ll be looking for something to light up to indicate who’s speaking. Conversation will be full of longer pauses and sans the usual interjections and overlaps as everyone waits to check the other person has finished speaking. Perhaps if we hold a small mirror next to the person we’re talking to, so we can be continually distracted by our own face, then we’ll get the full lockdown Zoom experience in real life.
I ended my weekend with my children back under my roof, standing on a blanket box at midnight trying to re-hang the net curtains the cat had just pulled down. This was a job made more frustrating by him swinging off the bottom of them as I lifted them. It was the end of a busy weekend for him. When I was reading in the garden on Sunday afternoon, he managed to jump from the fence and onto the corrugated roof covering ours and the neighbour’s outhouses. Of course, he got stuck up there, and of course, I couldn’t do anything about it. I tried to entice him into S and Z’s bedroom window, but he just stood there wailing at me through the glass. The roof is too high for me to reach without a long ladder, and I’m not climbing a ladder with osteoporosis, a swollen ankle and a serious fear of heights to save that little prick, even though it was impossible to concentrate with him wailing and the dog running round in circles yelping.
He sorted it out in the end and came back down safely, which was good because I couldn’t work out how to lower food and water to him from the bedroom window without it spilling. I don’t think he was even distressed about being trapped up there. It was more that there was nothing for him to do: No curtains to shred, toilets to climb into, plants to eat, baths to fall in, or toilet roll to unravel. Which was what he did with the rest of his day.
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.
Star & Crescent is Portsmouth’s only independent community news outlet. We don’t answer to shareholders and we don’t publish sponsored or promoted content – we answer to you.
Get involved or donate to help local independent media thrive, and be part of the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.