It’s a Saturday afternoon and whilst Little Z is napping, Little H, Sam and I are sat at the dining table on computers / playing tablet games. As far as a post-lunch on a Saturday goes it’s all pretty normal. Except it’s not. Because due to everything else going on in the world there is nowhere else to really go. Over the last few weeks, the world has plunged into a pandemic with the vicious Covid-19 virus bringing much of the world to a halt.
Slowly over the last fortnight, there have been ever accelerating changes in society which I had never foreseen coming. The first was crazy panic buying by people: loo roll, hand sanitiser, pasta and then as the days ticked on everything else started to get depleted too. It was unnerving going into the supermarkets I’ve become accustomed to seeing almost full and staring at almost empty shelves. It demonstrated the power that fear, panic and the behaviour of some can have on a mass population.
Then last weekend I got told that I was to work from home indefinitely – my office was closing down with all staff moving to remote working. Then from Tuesday, Sam was strongly advised to do the same. And so we did – having video conference calls and “coffee breaks” with our colleagues. Having no commute felt novel but yet there was a subtle undertone of shock as we all came to accept that this would probably be our working set-up for many months to come; that it would likely be well beyond the summer before we saw each other in person again.
But it was the end of this that was genuinely upsetting for me – the school and nursery closed along with all other schools and nurseries across the entire country. Indefinitely.
When we left nursery on Thursday, there was still an expectation of them being open next week so we didn’t say farewell to everyone. There was never any doubt about the school closing on Friday though and the depleted number of staff, students and parents all carried an air acceptance and sadness, Little H’s teachers in Reception were did a great job at keeping the atmosphere happy and positive – the kids came out as smiley as any other Friday. But the strain could be seen in the teachers’ faces and the deputy head looked as though she could cry as many of the older children ran over to say goodbye.
The day the schools closed was the day I’ve found hardest so far. The fact that what was happening was now so severely impacting our children was hard to come to terms with and I couldn’t hold back my emotions on a few occasions. Leaving the school that has become such a core part of our life and routine was very upsetting. Knowing that my daughter is unlikely to finish her Reception year made me feel like she was being robbed of something. And whilst I know that in the grand scheme of things she is incredibly fortunate, we are incredibly fortunate, it made it no less sad. Perhaps in many ways I was also sad for myself as I relished the structure of the school routine and always loved watching my biggest girl run eagerly into her classroom.
It won’t be this way forever I know. How long it will take for us to get back to some degree of normality is unclear – months at least. For now I feel like I’m a period of grief and adjustment. I’m taking some time to learn how we can fulfil all our new roles whilst under the same roof, especially the role of teacher. And I am yet to find a way to accept that food shopping is going to be filled with uncertainty for some time. It’s a strange time for us all and one strange reassurance is that everyone else is living with the same uncertainty and fear as us. So for now we need to sit, wait and enjoy the time together as much as possible.