We are not immune

Well unfortunately, as I had feared, we find ourselves in lockdown again. We have had an incredibly good run here in Western Australia but we are not immune. When the news broke yesterday of our first Covid-19 community transmission case in 10 months, there was surprise and confusion. Why I am not sure. We should have all expected it. This virus is cunning and sneaky. It finds the cracks.

People raced to the shops and toilet paper sold out in minutes. Grrrrr. Seriously, we are not going to run out of things unless people behave stupidly but unfortunately some did. But again, that was to be expected.

I have had it in my head for a while now that this would happen, that it was only a matter of time. What I had failed to do was think about how I would deal with the kids. They are a year older, a year wiser and a year more seasoned to change. But still this situation may freak them out. We should tread lightly, break the news gently, gauge their response…. right? But no…. I blurt it out, blunt and to the point. Their responses were interesting and surprisingly similar (last time around they reacted quite differently).

There was wild celebration!! That is initially….

To set the scene, yesterday was the eve of their return to school for 2021. We have had a great 7 week Christmas break and probably for the first time since I have been a parent I haven’t been counting the days until they go back to school (is that bad?). We have enjoyed family time (well I am not sure if they have always enjoyed each other, but on the whole it has been good) and we have seen and done new things together. Master 13 even got his first job which he has loved and has learnt so much (about life). Miss 10 has also learnt new skills (now an ace body boarder) and stayed social. They have been loving life.

They both felt sure they would love another week of school holiday. Miss 10 was looking forward to catching up with friends at school but thought it could wait. Master 13 had felt not quite ready to go back to school anyway. Whether that was because of work or because we only recently got back from holiday, I am not sure. They were happy. They began planning for a week of Oodies and screen time.

But, alas a mere 24 hours later and Miss 10 is bored. She wants to go to school and she wants to see her friends. You see, she has worked out that this isn’t going to be a week of school holiday fun. Mum and Dad have to work and there are no exciting activities planned. It quite literally is Oodie and screen time with little break and it turns out even that gets boring and very hot (who would have thought?).

This lockdown is strict and it’s tough. It was brought in swiftly and decisively and for just one case. It might seem like over-kill, but as a health care worker I know it is the right thing. We only need to look around to see how quickly things get out of hand. We will squash this. As Mark McGowan says ‘we have done it before and we will do it again’.

We now get a taste of what life has been like for many of our family and friends overseas or interstate. The masks are on, we leave home only for essentials, health appointments, work if you can’t work from home and one hour exercise per day. It is for 5 days! That will seem like nothing to many who have endured this for months. It could go either way……….we squash it or we lockdown for longer. It is in our hands.

Is school from home on the horizon?

Only time will tell.

Good luck and be safe people.

Hospital visit 2020 style

At the best of times a hospital admission for a child is stressful and scary. When there is talk of Covid lurking in the background, it is terrifying.

My daughter and I have been on the children’s ward for three days now. A cold quickly progressed to an asthma attack and she became very unwell quickly.

When we were considering if it was time to head to emergency, the Covid questions started. Will they test me? Will they wear masks? Is there Covid in the hospital? All these thoughts and questions from a child living in a state that has virtually no cases. I can only imagine one’s anxiety in a ‘hot spot’.

To be honest, it was a bit tricky answering her because I really didn’t know what to expect. We had got to a stage however, that is was clear to me testing or no testing, mask or no mask, we needed to go.

What followed has been 3 days of medication, machines and no sleep! It is only now that I have a happy, somewhat bored child sitting up reading beside me, that I can really appreciate quite how sick she was. In the moment, you just go with it.

We needn’t of worried about a Covid test, that would have been the least of it. We had oxygen, a cannula, puffers, steroids and antibiotics to contend with. In the end it wasn’t required anyway, she had no temperature and when they listened to her chest it was unmistakably an asthma attack. I even got to listen with the stethoscope, pretty impressive noises I must say!

The poor thing took a long time to respond to treatment which we think was due to a complex picture with a chest infection brewing in the background. As with most things with children, once we turned the corner she has picked up quick (hence the boredom we are experiencing now).

As I sit here waiting for her review and am hopeful of a discharge, I can’t help but think about how Covid just complicates everything. I wonder to myself if it affected or delayed our decision to present in emergency. I don’t think it did , but I can see how it would in other places in the world and it frightens me to think people might avoid medical treatment in fear.

The doctors, nurses, wards clerks, kitchen staff, orderlies, cleaners and volunteers are all doing an amazing job in our hospitals. Every person we have come across has treated us with care and dignity and conducted themselves in the most professional manner.

Throughout the whole process I have felt completely at ease and trusting of each one of them and I believe so has my daughter (mostly!). On the whole she has let them do their job, obviously realising she needed help. There of course were a few moments of grumpy monster when she was woken for the millionth time for medications and when they had to insert the dreaded needle 😫😫

I think one of my strongest memories will be of her drug induced sleep talking that kept myself and the night nurses entertained! I must say my worst memory will be of the recliner chair I have ‘slept’ in the last three nights (first world problem I know!).

All I can say is……… please please do not avoid our hospitals in fear of this horrendous virus. Everybody working in them is doing their absolute best and I for one, am so grateful for each and every one of them. Our healthcare workers are our army in this war.

Mum B

How many cases?

My daughter and I have unwittingly developed a bit of a routine. Every evening I get home from work and say ‘Hi, how was your day? Her reply ‘Good, we did blah blah at school…..’ Then ‘how many cases?’ and I rattle off the Covid statistics that have been announced during that day. She then comments either in a positive or negative way depending on the days figures and we carry on with our evening.

Sometimes it makes me giggle to think about what we would have thought if we’d heard ourselves ask this 12 months ago. How many cases?…….. Suitcases? (wouldn’t that be lovely?)……. number of clients I did at work?……. flu?……… winter vomiting bug?……… We certainly never would have imagined where we are today and the impact it has had on our lives.

When will we need these again?

I wonder whether we should keep having this conversation because I am finding it mighty repetitive and boring. But, I know in some crazy way she finds comfort in it. Probably because more often than not, the statistics remind her how lucky we are to live where we do. It reinforces her feeling of safety. It is a new routine and we all find solace in routine.

Life as a parent is all about routine. Get up, pack school lunches, get them to school, go to work, come home, have a chat about coronavirus, cook dinner, badger them to do homework, watch TV, go the bed. Wake up and repeat.

For kids this is stability, but for parents it is beginning to feel a bit like ground hog day! There still seems little hope on the horizon in terms of exotic holidays to look forward to…… 2022?

MB

Repercussions

Today I am feeling very flat. Try as we might, navigating 2020 is a challenge. Parents world wide are struggling with the fall out of Covid 19. Whether you are still in lockdown, home schooling or to trying to adjust to the new rules ‘post virus’, things are different. There are new and unique hurdles. Boundaries and plans have changed. Direction and focus is blurred.

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me there is also a constant, nagging fear of it coming back. We have so far only had one lockdown in WA but many of our compatriots have suddenly been thrown back in all over again. The psychological impacts must be huge and varied. Parenting is a difficult job at the best of times, but this added obstacle is exhausting!

For one of our children, life has gone back to a slightly different but comfortable version of normal. For the other, 2020 has been a constant string of battles. Some of which would have happened anyway, others intensified by Covid and some a direct repercussion of weeks spent idle during lockdown.

This week our son had to tell his soccer team that because of an injury sustained in the first game post Covid, he will not be able to play for the remainder of the season. It was brutal. He felt he was letting everyone down and he felt like a failure. His plans of training camps and trips became a distant memory……

And he isn’t the only one….

There have been multiple professional AFL players injured and many discussions about whether sports seasons should start at all because of these risks. One would have thought if anyone could get away with it, it would be children……. but perhaps not, we are hearing many stories of injured teens.

To some, it might not seem like a big deal. It is only a game after all. But, for 8 years it has been his constant through winter. Train in the week, play on the weekend. Repeat. It is healthy and it is predictable. Without it, he and us feel lost.

None of us knew we would have to be thinking of new ways to live. New hobbies, new jobs, new ways to keep fit, new plans. Months after our lockdown here in WA, the stresses associated with it are still emerging and spilling into our days.

We all have a long road to recovery and the only way to survive this will be our ability to be kind to ourselves. As someone who is notoriously hard on myself this is going to be a big challenge! We have to accept things are not going to go according to plan. In fact some part of me thinks to plan anything at the moment is a futile exercise.

We have to go back to basics in life and in parenting. As long as our children are safe and healthy it is all that matters. Our furry friends have it right. For them life is simple; one day at a time with love, food, play, sleep.

They are also a great tool for taking the mind off the negativity this year has brought us. Our crazy cat gives us hours of fun and distraction and now we have a new furry nephew to take our mind off stress too! How could this gorgeous animal not make you feel better about the world?!!

Reuben

So much to learn and so much love to give. This week saw him undertake his first skateboard lesson! Pure gold!

Mum B.

It’s not over yet – parenting through Covid

I just want to ask……… who else is feeling utterly exhausted?!!!

I am not sure whether it is from school at home, working extra hard to catch up for missed time at work, or just being emotionally drained from this whole thing (or ‘all this shit’ as I have seen it referred to)?!! And, if we adults feel like this, surely the kids do too.

Returning to school has been stressful for some. There have been all sorts of little issues crop up from: ill fitting uniforms, to worries about whether they have kept up with work, to kids growing significantly and …….. changing (voices deepening and such like).

Then, there is the added fact that school looks a bit different. There are still activities they can not do and equipment they can not use. In some schools, cleaners dressed in suits are hovering. For the little kids all this must be very confronting and scary.

It is difficult to support them, we never went through anything quite like this as a child. I keep harping on about what a great job Mark McGowan is doing to keep us safe in Western Australia, because I think feeling safe is important.

Slowly but surely things are picking up but it is clear to me, some things will never be the same again. Mostly these changes will be for the better. People will hopefully maintain higher hygiene standards, perhaps cut a few things out of their life and slow down, negotiate more working from home, keep a watch out for those around them more often.

The kids might even be lucky enough to see calmer and less distracted parents. I had already begun clearing things out of my life before Covid came along, but I have a long way to go with improving my distraction levels. This pandemic has served as a timely reminder; rushing around isn’t a way to live life but merely a way to exist. Taking time to notice the details is much more fulfilling and rewarding.

This reminds me of a blog I wrote almost two years ago in New York. It was about watching some birds bath in a puddle on a hot day in Central Park. A place so full of details and life. It so sad to hear of how this amazing city has been so ravished by coronavirus.

New York birds escaping the heat

It is time to appreciate the details and be grateful for what we have and where we live.

MB

Day 16 & 17 (The end of school at home)

Day 16; I was down to one student attending ‘school at home’. Wednesday is always a difficult day with all the core subjects popping up. Tension is usually high. This was no exception. However, this time it was much easier to manage. Keeping up a constant stream of food seems to help Mr 13 concentrate and I was available to help as required, although he only needed me for Maths.

Recess involved a bit of manual labour, loading tree branches into the ute after last week’s storm. At lunch we got on the bikes and headed to the shop. We were having quite a nice day together. When we arrived home, so did the email……

Recess!

CEWA had made their decision; from Monday it is all systems go for a return to normal school. This we had expected. What we did not expect, was students were encouraged to return to school as soon as possible to settle back in, i.e. tomorrow.

But…………….. he looked like a woolly mammoth!! We were not ready.

Therefore, Day 17 has been focused not only on doing his classes online but getting him scrubbed up and ready to return. His personal development period involved a trip to the tip (to drop off all the branches) and then straight to the barber shop, where we discovered his ears again (perhaps this was why he has been having trouble hearing me…………………….).

Anyway now that it is really happening, as I suspected, I have mixed feelings. I am hanging out for a coffee date with my friends and some time to myself but I am going to miss days like yesterday and today, where we actually did get some time to connect and enjoy each other’s company. For whatever reason, we will all remember this time.

Well done parents, it looks like we made it! Let’s hope we truly are on top of this thing and we have no second wave. But, if the worst should happen, at least we all know we can do this!

Thank you to all the wonderful teachers, both at our school and in the state of WA. You guys have gone above and beyond. xx

Mum B

Day 14 & 15 School at home

Things are a changing…

Dad has been on school duty the last two days. Monday, it was the usual juggle trying to help both kids through their lessons and provide a continual supply of food. On the whole though, it was a successful day of school at home.

But, something else big happened. Miss 10 made the decision…… it is time for her to go back to school. During the course of Monday, Dad called the school to inform them of our increasing work situation and her imminent return.

The school itself and her teacher were more than happy to see Miss 10. She bounced out of bed Tuesday morning and dusted off her winter uniform. After a zoom piano lesson she was out the door, with a mountain of books and on her way to school!

She loved her day and I loved hearing her stories; from the different kids she played with, the invention of new games at recess to her teacher checking through her work. She was promoted to ‘Super student’ for her Maths extension work (no I had not helped her through this, she has just been chipping away at it over her time at home). It was lovely to see her so happy and excited.

Meanwhile, Dad was able to focus more on Mr 13 who still feels there aren’t enough of his friends at school yet to go back. Online learning is working ok for him so for now he will stay at home. Although, I think the choice will be taken out if his hands very soon.

And so, the house is getting quieter. I am not quite sure what the guard cat will think when it all goes back to normal. She has quite enjoyed the extra attention and the fire burning all day!!

Watching for intruders

Mum B

Day 12 & 13 School at home

And so ends another week of school at home. Two and a half weeks feels like two and a half months! I guess the holidays in the middle (where we couldn’t go anywhere or do anything) accentuated the feeling of time dragging.

We are now into survival mode, the final stretch of school at home. We have been through the ‘shock and excitement’ phase, then the ‘let’s do this well’ phase and now we are in the ‘let’s just get it done’ phase.

The kids are doing fine. In the majority of subjects they are up to date and doing well. There are some areas that have slipped but the school teachers, Dad, the babysitter and I are doing our best at keeping them on track…….. and that is all we can do.

It is now easier for us to see where they struggle and could perhaps use some extra support. Similarly, we can see and appreciate their strengths (and there are many). We know more about who they are as people. In many ways, they have shown far more strength and resilience through these historical times, than us adults.

Very soon, things will be back to normal and we will look back with mixed emotions. On one hand, the time at home has been a blessing. Less driving and less rushing from one thing to the next. More family time together, more creative ventures, more time to think about what is important. On the other, it has been tough. There has been nagging, frustration and a feeling of loneliness.

Miss 10 has announced she is ready to return to school. She is keen to see her friends and teacher, and for some sense of normality. It is important she feels safe and ready in herself. Given a choice Mr 13 would continue this way forever but he knows the time is near. The WA Catholic Education board are reviewing the situation on Monday so we will see what they decide.

I feel that, for us, we are ready. We are health care workers and things are ramping back up at work. We are getting tired. Given where we are in Western Australia, the risks seem minimal. This may not be the case for other families. I think it is important we do what is right for us and try not to judge what others are doing.

Today is Mother’s Day and today, more than any other year, we should feel proud. We should pat ourselves on our back. The last few months have been tough. We have been asked to add more skills to our already stretched repertoire. But we have done our absolute best, whatever that may look like.

So Mums, enjoy being spoilt because you deserve it.

Some backyard brightness and beauty on a special day

Mum B.

Day 11 School at home

There was an apprehensive feeling as we opened the blinds this morning. Overnight we had a huge storm and we were all a bit nervous about the damage we might see out the window. At first, all looked to be ok. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and got on getting ready for school.

As usual, the kids logged on and started the school day on time. Mr 13 noted the lack of kids in his class with 15 or 16 compared to near 30. This is when we realised quite how wide spread the power outages around us were. There were trees and power poles down with reports of plenty of property damage. We were very lucky.

The kids pushed on and both vied for my time to help them. One had work they were behind in and the other; something they didn’t understand. I moved between the two doing my best to help. Then they were hungry. Then they needed help. Then they were running out of time. Then tempers overflowed and everything: the late work, lack of understanding and hunger was all Mum’s fault. After a cascade of yelling and abuse I grabbed the car keys and left.

I drove to the beach to clear my head. I wondered why I found this situation so hard and why the kids felt the need to play me. I know they do not behave like this for their Dad or for their teachers! I also know these facts: I have one child who has trouble staying organised and needs a lot of whip cracking and I have one child who wants my attention as much as possible especially when someone else wants it. I know their Dad won’t pander to any of it (if they don’t do the work they suffer the consequences).

Yes, I nag……..

And nag and nag and nag. I don’t know how else to keep them on task. I know that must feel annoying for them, so why don’t they just get on with it and do the work?! Then there will be plenty of time for other stuff when it is done. It is just so frustrating to watch it all day long, this silly game we play.

After sitting and watching the waves roll in and black clouds on the horizon (and several calls and messages from home), I felt calm enough to return. I walked in to both kids calmly on their computers doing work (cue the eye roll). They are so much better without me here…….

At this point I gazed out the back window, and that was when I finally noticed something wasn’t right in the backyard. There was a small tree down across the path and the spa fence looked a bit strange. When I went out to investigate it turns out a whole pane of glass had come clean out of the frame!! How does that even happen? It was lying in one piece on the spa decking as if someone had just lifted it out and placed it gently on the ground. The gate pole was wobbly and the latch not working. So…. as it happens, we have a bit of cleaning up to do this weekend!

I just want the best for the kids, and for them to do their best. I am still trying to work out how I best facilitate that without too much pressure and too much reliance on me fixing up in the background.

Mum B

Day 9 & 10 School at home

As winter sets in in Western Australia, the kids are pretty glad not to be riding their bikes to school in the rain. Instead, they are enjoying rather lazy starts to the day, falling out of bed, getting trackies and Ugg boots on just in time to start their school day online.

Meanwhile, I have been up early the last two days with super busy clinics at work. We are playing catch up after being forced to close for a few weeks. I can’t help myself though, I always check in at lunch to see how school is going. Dad has been in charge and usually gives little details, things like ‘its super’.

When I arrive home I ask a million questions. The replies are much like when they are at normal school if I am honest. How was your day? OK. What did you do? Can’t remember. How was the teacher? Good. At least they aren’t complaining and things are feeling pretty normal!

Today there was one interesting story from Mr 13 though……

Miss 10 had finished all her work for the day and Mr 13 was logged onto his last period, English. Just as his teacher asked him to turn on his microphone and camera (so she could speak directly to him), Miss 10 burst into the room excitedly chatting. Mr 13 attempted the ‘shut up I am online’ look. She didn’t get the hint and carried on talking to him. His attempts to keep her quiet became more insistent with a hissed ‘shut up’. But things got even worse!

Still not realising, she then jumped up on the couch beside him, where she was now visible to the teacher. It was at this moment two things happened. One, she realised the teacher could see and hear her and two she realised she had no pants on! The teacher got quite a giggle!

Don’t worry she wasn’t completely indecent and fortunately almost all of the class had already signed out. It reminded me of the American TV presenter who did a whole interview from home last week with his shirt and suit jacket but no trousers. He didn’t realise the camera was low enough to see his boxers!

So parents, now is not the time to walk around the house in your birthday suit or shout obscenities, who knows who might see or hear you!!

Mum B

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