We are still here, still plodding along.
New guidance means that, as of yesterday, A is officially allowed to leave the house. She hasn’t yet. But this morning we have decided to allow one of our respite carers back in, someone to take charge of D for a few hours.
I’m not sure how it’ll go. They aren’t allowed to take children out anywhere, A doesn’t wish to go anywhere else, and D doesn’t do social distancing. At the moment, the plan is that D and his Carer will be ceded the back garden, A will bunker down as usual in the sitting room, and I shall attempt to hide somewhere so D doesn’t spend those precious hours chasing me.
We shall see.
More changes afoot; A is very excited that McDonald’s will be reopening this week. Part one of her much delayed birthday treat may finally happen. Yesterday Grannie and Granddad joined us For afternoon tea in the back garden. D showed off his climbing skills, his bouncing and his swinging. A visited at the bottom of the garden for a short while, before retreating inside to stay safe. And we three sat; Dad pulling his hair forwards to hear, me inching my chair backwards to maintain distance, but oh, the joy of just being able to sit and chat. The luxury of conversation with a shared view, not a split screen with faces staring out from each corner. Precious.
Today’s mission: to ease A out of the house and round the corner into a largely empty car park, so that she and I can clear the bus out in preparation for its service tomorrow. I think it’s fair to say we are both a little apprehensive about this. But we need to do it.
We won’t be driving anywhere (unless we get word that McDonald’s has opened up today), but it was March last time we opened that sliding door and took a look inside the bus. March the last time A went further than halfway down the front ramp. March since we last locked the front door from the outside. March the last time anyone else took responsibility for D for a few hours.
Things aren’t going back to normal for us. We won’t be going back to school or preschool any time soon. Shopping is still forbidden. People are still delivering prescriptions, collecting food, making telephone appointments. It feels increasingly surreal, increasingly dislocated from reality. I look at pictures of people on beaches, people walking through our beautiful (and very empty) town, see places begin to open up again. And our excitement is that we might manage a drive thru McDonald’s. Or we might not. This virus lurks. I can’t help but wonder if the freedoms we are now being offered are perhaps more to do with encouraging people to move on from stories about a certain political advisor.
And so we will take tiny steps. We cannot walk from our door without straying too close to other people. I cannot create a 2m forcefield around my daughter, and I cannot easily prevent my son from licking lampposts and chewing gravel and generally touching and tasting anything in his reach. Well, I can, but not whilst also letting him walk and run. So, if anywhere, a short run to McDonald’s it is. We may drive to a prettier car park to eat it.
I find now I need to manage my own anxieties as well as my daughter’s. We examine the facts. I look at the sources. I reach my conclusions. These are different to some of my friends. That’s ok; we are different people. My decisions are not a criticism of theirs; have have simply come to different conclusions about what is right for each of us at this time. Some have children back in school, some have more care, some less, a few have drawn up the ramparts and buried the key, and others have moved in with friends or family for the duration. And that’s ok. We balance risk. Covid19 is a risk, but so is isolation and exhaustion. For now, A and I are on the same page, agreeing the same limitations and freedoms. But it chafes her. And there may come a time when she wants more, needs more, and that will be a difficult time for us. But for now, she is awake early and her eyes are sparkling at the idea of leaving the house and heading just around the corner to our bus. That’ll do for today.