On our daily walk today I noticed that as soon as the children encountered another person coming in the opposite direction they automatically moved to one side and made space for the other walkers to pass. I realised I no longer had to ask them to remember to leave space or to explain social distancing in terms they can understand again. Throughout the walk, they didn’t need to be reminded once. Lockdown, social distancing, hand washing has become the new normal and avoiding people was just what you did.
They no longer ask to go to the skate park, the beach, trampolining or gymnastics and attending the local Brownies group online via video conferencing has also become the new normal. The Brownies have learnt to wait their turn and no longer talk all over each other in a cacophony of chatter.
This didn’t just apply to the children. Going out only once a day for a walk was just now everyday life. Dropping food off to my parents and waving through the window was normal and booking my Ocado shop three weeks in advance to secure my slot was normal. It didn’t just apply to our daily routine but all aspect of our lives. Our social worker team has found inventive ways to continue supporting us at Nexus but also the local authority has been dragged out of the 20th century. The children’s court case has been concluded, we still have meetings with school and LAC reviews via Zoom, a video conferencing app.
Having these meetings in my bedroom (it’s the only place to get away from the noise) is also the new norm and I’ve had to think about what’s in my backdrop as I didn’t want to become a meme on social media with something funny in the background!
Hubby has changed his whole working life and going to work now means closing the office door and being unavailable to the children. It took a while for them to understand but this too is the new normal.
Like everyone else on social media, we’ve stopped sharing tips on how to entertain the kids or how to complete six hours of schoolwork without tears and there are less and less pictures of daily achievements of baking skills. As a nation we worked through our To Do list that we no longer have an excuse to put off, we put shelves up and we dug the garden alongside writing the next great novel. As it happens I have completed two courses online that I’ve been meaning to do, to increase my knowledge of ADHD and autism.
But what happens when the new normal goes back to the old normal? Will there even be an old normal again? Psychologists, politicians, health professionals and environmentalist amongst others tell us that things will never be quite the same again. The children I care for have already been through so much trauma and change – I worry about them coping with yet another transition in their life.
We’ve had 3 birthdays since lockdown began. The first one, our 10-year-old keenly felt the loss of the party and school friends but as lockdown marched on, the progressive birthday parties with cake, balloons and presents at home and friends singing greetings via Zoom also began to feel normal.
Our holiday in the Summer has officially been cancelled but the children seem to have taken this in their stride. Our youngest says “naughty coronavirus’ when we can’t do something she wants to do. I’m looking forward to when my children will once again run up to family and hug them without turning around and checking it’s ok.
As regards to boredom, staying at home and not seeing family, yes these things are beginning to sting but we are so lucky not to have been touched by the dark side of the virus. When we go back to normal, whatever it looks like, we will be able to hug our family and celebrate significant events together which I’m conscious won’t be everybody’s normal.