One Senior School family's experience of lockdown 3.0
We asked one Senior School family to write their experience of this lockdown. How they had found it, what they enjoyed, and what they found more of a challenge. Here is their fascinating insight into family 'lockdown life'.
We’re back to school then…no actually, then…As it happens, 2021 was the year for which our family didn’t receive a calendar for Christmas; perhaps there were greater powers at work here and by the time the journey to the supermarket for this essential had been made, things had become a little clearer.
The remote learning spaces are reinstated. One faces the rising sun, the meadow and the passing dog walkers while the setting sun glances through the trees onto the other on the landing. For how long I wonder, as the days lengthen. Meanwhile the adult home working spot is the kitchen table illuminated by a single bare light bulb, within a stretch of the semi-functioning cooker and well-ventilated by the ill-fitting back door. Our order of priority would appear to be established!
Consumables have again taken another form – we still need the ink cartridges but now it’s more earphones, too. The family pet, masquerading as a little supporter in study, has nibbled his way through 2 sets to date – face inscrutably innocent – and been offered the latest 2 broken pairs (2 pairs broken in just 1 week?!) by way of entertainment value.
In fact, the return to remote learning has been made almost with pride as the girls slip back to a skill set they already know; it takes the form of a constant in a changing world. How lovely too to notice how the voice contact and immediacy that live remote learning offers brightens them up, a salutary reminder of the importance of nurturing friendships at this stage.
I find myself celebrating screens! (But keep it well hidden). What a comfort – we’re happy here, used to spending time alongside if not always with one another, it works well – but the contact the girls have with friends through technology is a real joy. I don’t feel they are losing time, missing out; they are gaining, but in ways we never sought and don’t know how to quantify. We are living in the silver lining of a cloud for which we have no reference point. I feel we are waiting – this isn’t about restriction, it’s about a different way of growing in readiness for what life brings next. They are, in fact, absolutely fine!
This phase on the journey to a return to conventional living has even provided opportunity for rare parental glory. My offer to fix the ‘broken’ Chromebook microphone was greeted with little less than incredulity but I succeeded! They think nothing of my carrying 3m of planking home to increase our shelving, or of my rummage through the wood pile in search of broken bits of pallet to be transformed into brackets, or of the 3 or 4 hours it took to secure the result to ancient walls that have either the consistency of iron or of sand (painted, the result looks acceptable), all just in time to create useful space...but the idea of even the slightest parental competence in IT was a revelation.
We are of course only in week 2 and a winter confinement is raising different challenges to a spring one. In our tiny house, the girls can exit through their bedroom window, over the shed roof and down to ground level via a rope in a tree. It’s a circuitous route to access the (only) bathroom via the back door, but teenagers need their space…except that the back door blows open in the wind and has to be bolted shut in winter. Nonetheless, I see a pair of shoes under the bunk bed in readiness for a journey.
The ultra-competitive swing ball competition which fed some need for exercise a few months ago holds less appeal below 5C; I’m almost grateful since my 4th ball replacement, managed with a giant washer and some forceps, was on borrowed time. So it’s gymnastics on the rope in the tree, walks and rollerskating for activity thus far. Chess has become tedious since the girls know each others’ likely moves too well and I’m blessing Harry Potter Dobble (great charity shop find before Christmas) which we can all enjoy. There’s artwork, macrame and an absent friend’s home to keep an eye on.
We can do lockdown! We don’t want it forever but some things don’t change: Double Maths (Groan)! A Games/PE challenge? Great! We still have laughter, friends, birds on the feeder and the sound of rain in the night, sunsets, sunrises, snowdrops and daffodils creeping up and last year’s hoarded seeds to plant. We can get up (slightly) later, we see home in daylight on weekdays.
The Christmas decorations are all tidied away and this usually fallow time of year is infused with an unexpected awareness of what is present rather than what has passed. I’m not sure if this is strange joy or grim privilege, in the light of the cause; gratitude and compassion mix; but the only way out is forward, so on we go – I think we are remembering to look around us, on the way.