Staying Home With A Multitude of Calendars

Child using rainbow stamps to cover a sheet of paper

There are three calendars in my children's bedroom. Three. I feel like this would be an excessive amount in a normal year - in 2021, it's either woefully misguided or joyfully optimistic, I really can't decide.

There is the painted tree my five year old decorated with buttons at the school she's desperate to return to.

There are the purple and green handprints my three year old did on her first day at the nursery she's really missing.

There is the (apparently) obligatory Frozen II merchandise, on which we have marked their friends' and cousins' and grandparents' birthdays. Learning my lesson from last year, there is no mention of starts or ends of terms.

They get their pink and purple gel pens every evening, after (reluctantly) brushing their teeth, and they score off the days. One tick on the five year old's calendar, one tick on the three year old's, two ticks and a tiny illustration squeezed into the space on the shared one. They love seeing the year disappear.

I think we all know how that feels.

Today would have been the first day back at school. Luckily, in Scotland, we were told before Christmas that they wouldn't be returning on schedule. I've had time to mentally prepare myself and to perfectly phrase the news I gave my kids.

I fully agree with keeping the schools closed (for what it's worth). 

But. There's always a but at the moment. But.

One of the things I appreciated during the first lockdown was that neither of my kids had started school yet. Nobody had to do online learning. No time had to be structured for lessons. They could simply watch TV and play.

This time, I have a five year old who needs to chant phonics tunes at my laptop and a three year old who wants to crush play dough into the keyboard. Neither of them can understand why the screen doesn't respond to their touch.

This is not something that I'm looking forward to. It's not something I expect to do well. I would like to enjoy it, but I'm more likely to be enduring it, one patchy day at a time. And I say that as someone in the fortunate position of not trying to get any work done (earning some money's on hold).

My five year old loves school. She's revelling in all the learning - things I could teach her at home, but clearly hadn't been doing because my interest in adjacent consonants is limited. 

And she loves being around other kids.

She's missing her friends. Both children are. Every member of our household is.

So, like everyone else, I want an end date. I want to know when the grandparents will be vaccinated and when the teachers will be vaccinated and when I will be vaccinated. I want to know when schools and nurseries will go back. I want to know when I can get in a friend's car and drive... anywhere. I want to see my family. I want to hug. I want to be more than a mile from my home. I want to share cake on a friend's sofa. I want to know when this will all be done.

Perhaps when we know when that will be, three calendars in a room won't be enough. We should fill our walls with pages of plans and mark every new term with gold stars.

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P.S. There's no logic to the photo at the top of this post. It's just a picture from the past week. Here's another one (it's the day we ran out of butter):

Chocolate spread, mashed banana and star sprinkles on toast