Roz the Wild Robot and Hiccup Haddock the Dragon Trainer flashed up in my Facebook memories this morning. Hiccup was in a triumphant fighting pose, a brilliant jet of cellophane fire in one hand. Roz stood with a slightly awkward angle in his silver-sprayed robot body and silver head.
They were standing at our front door, just about to head off to school. Book Week 2019.
I instructed Roz’s classmates to assist him in the parade around the soccer pitch. He lacked peripheral vision and his metallic newspaper stocking-filled arms dangled by his side. With his real arms tucked neatly away under his cardboard torso, and his cut-out eyes just the right size to express the kindness of the Wild Robot, he was at risk of over-balancing and couldn’t see too far in front. It was a terrific home-made costume. The classmates were happy to help. Hiccup was having some trouble keeping the fire in place, but some small adjustments to the sticky-tape and instructions not to wave it too vigorously at the fantasy dragons, and he was good to go. Oh jubilant, delightful creations and occasions.
Book Week costumes can go and get rooted this year.
The Parents of Lockdown united in their solace that Lockdown 6.extension meant the cancellation of Book Week. Until the teachers announced that we would all be doing it anyway. For the kids. Lockdown cannot stop us and BOOK WEEK SHALL PREVAIL! With the same enthusiasm that, for the kids, we would all participate in SCIENCE WEEK EXPERIMENTS! AT HOME! Get out your bicarbonate of soda, citric acid, cornflour, stain-everything-in-sight food dye, and have FUN, KIDS!
The Parents of Lockdown have Oobleck for brains and our every Ugg Boot-stride is weighed down by oil congealing to milky fats. How many of us could rally the gusto required for messy kitchen table science experiments? Not this week.
Sorry Teachers of Lockdown. We love your spirit and need your spirit so please don’t stop. We know it’s not all shits and giggles for the teachers. Forgive us though as we shake our fists to the wind and decree instead HOME LEARNING SHALL DESTROY US ALL!
We marked 200 days and one of the roughest weeks of the whole darn lot. Will the Kids of Lockdown be alright?
My seven-year-old sobbed through his home learning of clocks. ‘Why do I even need to learn to tell the time?’ It’s a fair point, right now. The clock ticked past two hundred days and it feels like an eternity of living in a timeless void. He went on, ‘I just want to finish these clocks and go home.’
‘I WANT TO GO HOME,’ he yelled.
It’s a bed-class-room we’re sitting in. A bad-class-room. A bad-ass-room. A total ass-room. And it no longer has the recognisable cadence of home.
We lament the ability to go out, to go anywhere, the movies, the zoo, the gallery, a party. Beneath all that my son is pining for the warmth of simply coming home. We mourn the family gathering reunited at the dinner table, sharing stories at the end of a long day out from our separate paths, ‘Who did you play with today? What did you learn? Tell me how you skinned your knee. You must be very brave. Do you have any homework tonight? I’d love to see you on the monkey bars soon.’
Home yearning through the home learning. Homesick in our own homes.
In this tough week, we are the lucky ones to have a safe home. We weep for the children of Afghanistan, we acknowledge our fortunes, we ask what we can do, we find ways for small acts of charity.
And through the waves of sameness and mounting heaviness, we wrap up the ass-room days with rewards of Locktails, shake a Quarantini, stir a Neg-Rona, chug down a Locksucking Cowboy. Lip, Sip, Lock. But please not on the streets. That was an unfortunate lapse in staying the course and only made it worse.
Bilbo Baggins trudged off to school in 2017. He had a head of thick curly hair, pointy ears, green breeches, a smart waistcoat, plastic pipe, and bits of fur stuck on his leathery thongs. During the parade around the soccer pitch, the hairy feet kept coming unstuck, a small blight on what was otherwise a tremendous costume. I ran-ducked across the pitch, weaving between the parading kids, collecting the hair and chasing his feet to reattach the pieces. As every truly good, modern, helicopter mother would do.
The kids are getting COVID and some of them are really sick. We weep along with Katy Gallagher, for her worry, and the worry that it could soon be all of ours. The vexing is physical now as much as it has always been mental. Must go to the park but please don’t go to the park. Don’t catch COVID. We do our best to protect them but only a vaccine can protect them yet we don’t have any nor do we have any guidelines on giving them one.
Put on a mask, kids. It’s time.
Lorde breathed a new, wistful harmony this week, cause we’re all broken and sad.
Where are the dreams that we had? I just hope the sun will show us the path.
The Parents of Lockdown are unfeeling and don’t give a flying fuck and care so bloody much it’s anaesthetising, and we stop and we keep going. We are grateful to be safely locked in our walls and confused those walls are leaking familiar homely comforts. We are so tired. Old parents running out of time miss hugs with big children. Young parents crave playful, worry-free time with smaller children.
Will the Kids of Lockdown actually be alright? I hope so.
I long to be that over-zealous mother again scouring op-shops and sewing and crafting and ducking and lurching to reattach Hobbit hair to thongs on a soccer pitch or cellophane flames to a cardboard torch, osmosing the gush of endorphins from creating something wonderful and joyous. Instead, I’m the cracked mother who side-steps past online classrooms in pyjamas hoping the teacher doesn’t see the worn hole in the bum and drawing fleeting gratification from how many Twitter likes I get from mindless tweeting about said hole in bum.
Let’s go easy on Book Week costumes, hey? Or ditching them right off is ok too. Efficiency with minimal labour is vital. Keeping our homes safe, and homely, is everything. The Science Week and Book Week cycle will come around again and we might be feeling better by then.
My ten-year old wrote a poem for home learning, inside our walls. He won’t be dressing up for Book Week. But he did create something beautiful.
The back door
Jasmine’s sweet scent has arrived.
It’s chilly though, the Winter wind still blows.
I see the dog kennel empty,
where is she?
There she is, sleeping in the sun,
waiting for Spring.
Spring is tapping at my back door.
Hold on, Parents of Lockdown. Let’s hope the sun will eventually show us the path, and we feel like we’ve arrived back home.