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 36, the kids have adopted a new member of the family, Maddie is having some tech trouble, and reminds herself never to argue with children.
Monday started as it meant to go on with Operation Bee Rescue. The cat, who hit his five month milestone on Saturday despite his best efforts to kill himself, brought a honeybee into the living room and then spat it out. It buzzed to the window and got itself caught in the net curtains, by which time it sounded angry. The cat started climbing the net curtains trying to catch it. The dog went crazy and started jumping all over the chair in the window, either trying to catch the bee or stop the cat catching the bee. It’s hard to know whether the dog’s smart or stupid because she can encompass both extremes at the same time. A started screaming that the dog and the cat might kill the bee and IT MUSTN’T DIE OR THE PLANET WILL DIE! I started shouting at the cat and dog to please not get stung because I still haven’t got around to insuring the cat yet, and I don’t want to have to go the vets again in the middle of a global pandemic. S got a glass and a coaster and calmly caught the bee and took it outside, with A hot on his heels. I sat back down and tried to work, but I hadn’t even written a sentence when I heard her scream from the garden.
She got stung right? Scream like that, she must’ve been stung.
*Throw laptop in the air, scramble forwards, trip over laptop lead, bang knee on door frame, careen into children*
‘HE KILLED THE BEE!’
‘He wouldn’t kill it; he was rescuing it! OH MY GOD, S! WHY DID YOU KILL THE BEE?’
S explained it was an accident. He was trying to get it to fly out of the glass, the bee was being dopey, he flicked the glass at the same time as the bee flew out and hit the bee. The bee was dead.
A fell to the floor wailing, ‘The bee is dead! The bee is dead! The poor bee!’
I told him to pick it up and move it, and he went off to the garden with A trailing afterwards, wringing her hands and discussing funeral arrangements.
I’d almost finished a sentence again when they were back.
‘It’s not dead! It’s not dead! It was stunned!’
The bee, apparently now an extended member of the family, required a rescue plan which S and A thought might involve intensive care treatment. I told them to put some sugar and water on a teaspoon and put that next to the bee. No doubt two minutes in our living room had exhausted the poor thing. They skipped off and were out of my hair for a good ten minutes. Which would have been enough time to write a full page, if only Z hadn’t appeared within seconds and stepped into the beautiful silence to whine about not being able to do any schoolwork because my old laptop is stupid, and anyway, didn’t I say they wouldn’t have to do four hours of work?
‘No, I said it shouldn’t take four hours.’
‘No, you didn’t, you said we wouldn’t have to do four hours.’
‘No, I didn’t I said. . .’
Do. Not. Argue. With. Children.
I had a vague memory of giving them my old laptop last summer, factory reset complete, and S taking it down to his dad’s to complete the set up. When they brought it home, he’d set himself up as administrator using a Gmail address linked to his dad’s Microsoft family account. This meant that no one could get on the internet without parental permission, which his dad would have to give via email. I tried to fix it months ago, but administrators and users and error messages are above my pay grade. I have several ‘phone a friend’ options for tech but decided it should be simple and I could sort it with some Googling and smart thinking. Plus, Z was using it as an excuse not to do any work, so I felt the need to fix it and give him a smug look. See! Look how easy it is if you just get on with things!
Something, something, blar, blar, administrator something. Of course, it took me three hours to fix it, by which time I had to abandon work for the day, write a meal plan and go to Tesco.
I’ve found Monday at 4pm to be a quiet time in the shops, but not this week. It was like I’d walked into a BBC dramatization of a Great British bank holiday. The roads were busier than they’ve been in weeks, people were out bike riding, walking in groups and apparently shopping. Did everyone find out that Monday teatime is the best time to go out, or are people starting to ignore lockdown now? Everywhere was busy. Tesco had no gloves, people were ignoring the arrows and walking way too close; it was stressful. Despite the signs saying only one shopper per household, I still saw a family with both parents and two kids in there, which is a stark contrast to Spain, where children haven’t been allowed outside at all for five weeks.
After unpacking the shopping with a dog and a cat wrapped around my feet and cooking two separate dinners because I’d stupidly picked Mayhem Monday to eat vegetarian, it was gone half seven before we were finally ready to walk the dog.
You know what would be perfect now? If S could stub his little toe while jumping from his bed to Z’s, doing a roll and smacking his foot into the door frame. Even better would be if – after I assessed it as not broken and again tried to leave the house with the dog – he could stub the big toe of his other foot on the step coming out of the kitchen.
And then maybe, for real perfection, my back could finally tell me where to stick my limping and my dodgy ankle and go into spasm.
But this all sounds so negative, so here’s what I achieved instead: two loads of washing, two lots of washing up, two separate dinners and a banana loaf. Counselling sessions for Z and A. Yesterday’s diary entry, a thirty five minute, uninterrupted phone call, some seriously heavy computer tech stuff, a food shop, meals planned for the week, dog walked, cat still alive, kids still alive, me still alive.
So that’s a win then.
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.
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