Saturday, 16 May 2020

Day 61

Someone asked this morning for the last “normal” picture on my phone. It took me a long time to find. It’s nothing special, just a moderately grumpy teen holding tight to a set of reins, which are containing a bouncy boy as he jumps around on the pavement.

We were taking a quiet evening walk to try to de-bounce him in the hope that he would sleep.

I realise though; that wasn’t our last normal. It was the last time we took him out with his reins. They, and his buggy, have been unused now for two months. But it was far from normal. We had had church without fellowship in the morning; everyone melting away as soon as the service was over. And that evening was the first live streamed church service, the first baptism by drenching rather than dunking, and the last church service with a congregation in the building. Not a normal day.

I need to step back a day or two earlier for that. My phone shows me pictures of our town, the river in flood, the geese up close and personal. And I remember walking into town with my boy, casually walking into different shops, assessing the fashion, debating whether I had time during his nap to grab a haircut (and deciding against it; oh how I regret that decision now!). Walking quickly through the park to avoid him wanting to get out and play. Sorry, D, if I’d known it would have been your last chance, I would have given you free range until we risked being late for your sister’s bus. Grabbing a coffee to drink on the quick march home.

Two months now, more, since my boy saw a playground. Since I had a takeaway coffee, or sat in a cafe with my friends two months since A was in school, with no return in sight.

It was a couple of days after pulling the smalls out of school that we took our last walk. A socially distanced one to survey the traffic, to hunt for the Scania lorries which make my daughter smile. And the came The Letter informing us that A must shield, and so our world shrank.

I walked out to our garage yesterday. The farthest I have been in those two months. Said hello to our bus, abandoned in the car park. Attempted to enter the garage but couldn’t for all the stuff just sitting in the doorway. A struggle for another day. Shut the door, padlock it, Walk back to the house quickly for fear of encountering another human at the pinch point where social distancing would be impossible. Back inside, shut the door, lock the door, wash hands thoroughly. And comfort two children one distraught and the other furious that I had dared to disappear for a few seconds.

There are more photos in my camera. From the day before, when I had had respite. Real, actual, respite. Other people in our house, entertaining my boy, whilst my girl was at school. I had walked around our reservoir. Found some cormorants and wide blue skies.

How quickly it all vanished.

And now it is Saturday. And Saturdays follow their own relaxed rituals here. Always, there are pancakes. Always, there is me nagging A to clear the table. Her one job of the week; it would take ten minutes but she drags it out from Saturday morning until Sunday lunch time, and is constantly surprised that I find this annoying. Today though, it fills the day. My boy grabs my hand and pulls me outside. The caterpillar rain has reduced to random sporadic caterpillar hail; enough to need to watch him but febenough that I can risk removing my hood. He swings. He bounces. He pulls my hand and snuggles my arm, kissing my wrist as we march, up and down the ramp. Step up, step down. Two steps across the grass, two steps up to my bench. Twirl. Two steps down. Two steps across the grass, five steps to the potato patch. Twirl. Run down the ramp. March up the ramp. Step down. Two steps across the grass to my bench. And repeat. It is a figure of eight in around 80 steps, and my steps have worn a path across the grass and over a flower bed. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. I cannot go far from my front door, but my garden paces add up until I am marching 5, 6, 7 miles in a day, between pouring drinks and watch A not drink them, and extracting stones from my boy’s mouth.

We have time. Time to notice the garden spring to life, time each day to debate whether the green shoot is the bulb finally germinating or the ever present ground elder. Time to stop and watch the bees and moths flit through the cat mint and lavendula. Time to mirror my boy’s trampoline bounces as I step up and down on the decking. To grieve what we have lost and to be thankful that it is so little compared to some. To acknowledge the beauty in the plants around and mourn for the missed bluebell walks and lambing. To sit and bounce with my boy, and to marvel at his communication skills. And to ponder both the amazing coping skills of my girl and also her incredible ability to procrastinate and stall.

And tomorrow we get to do it all over again.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Day 56

Stay Alert, apparently. 

Staying very alert here, as we have had apocalyptic showers of dead poisonous caterpillars. New twist; having seen none for the past few days, it seems as though they had died out. Hurrah. Until high winds today dislodged then from the leaves and branches where they’d curled up to die, and rained them down on us as we attempted to use the garden. It seems a little unnecessary. 

Phone calls, news filtering through, clarifying and then contradicting Boris’ speech yesterday. Instructions to register A as shielded for a third time. Hospital, GP, County Council and the Vale all recognise her as shielded and all keen to make sure we stay that way. But the official site, which has sent us several letters stating that we are shielding, is still failing to recognise our details. Annoying. We appear to have been deleted. Let’s hope it’s third time lucky. 

Meanwhile, guidance finally on returning to school. No surprise that shielded children won’t be; as itbturns our, not will any siblings who cannot practice social distancing. So that’s both children at home until there’s a vaccine, not just one. I’m struggling with this. Carrying on as we are until September is daunting enough. But trying to continue to be D’s full time 1:1, educator, speech therapist, occupational therapist, and nurse whilst also continuing to be everything A needs, with now no end in sight, is daunting. Right now I feel as though I’m letting them both down. There is good in each day, but we are only really treading water. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Day 50

Another day done. Verbena plantlings turned up in the post. I planted them, the boy took pride in stomping them down firmly into the ground and generally obliterating them. It passed the time. 

Our weekly shop arrived, I emptied most of it into the kitchen, then promptly emptied it out of the cupboards and onto plates for hungry children. 

Laundry was processed. Towels from the bathroom into the washing machine, dried, put back into the bathroom, used and promptly back into the linen basket. 

Beds were emptied, made, and will shortly be unmade and filled again. 

Cups and plates and cooking implements were removed from the dishwasher, put into cupboards, used, and put back into the dishwasher. 

Floors were hoovered and promptly covered with discarded crisps and cat food. 

The garden was covered with men replacing our upstairs neighbour's boiler. This did not hamper my boy's keenness to be in the garden, making for an interesting socially distant dance in an attempt to prevent him from climbing their ladders onto our roof. 

50 days. It feels significant somehow. But whilst we have no out date, we have nothing to count down towards. Are we halfway there? Barely started? 

Friday, 1 May 2020

Day 46.

Mood: better! Brighter. Sunshine always helps. Mood unsquelched despite the discovery that the caterpillars (or hairy danger noodles, Christened by a friend and how they shall henceforth be known)  have moved into the front garden and are crawling up the brickwork and taking shelter in the bin handles. Not good news at all, and at least thirty needed squishing. But I will take danger noodles and a brighter mood over a safe garden within the slough of despond.

No major jobs tackled today, no tidying, no planting. Minimal hands on therapy of any kind and only minor prodding towards anything vaguely educational. But everyone fed, everyone watered, all in bed at a reasonable hour and no major tantrums from any of us. That’ll do.


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