16 July 2020: Lockdown Day 112

I have mixed feelings.

By next Monday all three my boys are back at school. I have mixed feelings about that. Not so much about their risk of covid exposure or getting up when it’s still dark outside or the tiring afternoon school runs. (So many things we were comfortably protected from during the last four months of lockdown.) 

I just feel somewhat unsure whether my main emotion should be selfish bliss (to finally have the house to myself again), relief on their behalf (about being educated by a real teacher again), slight embarrassment (about my kids’ covid-resulted decrease in social skills), or familiar guilt (about not fully utilising this home bound period to really spend that quality time with them, which I’ve always longed for). Probably guilt. It’s always guilt when you’re a mom.

When lockdown started, I was secretly enthusiastic about my overdue plans to play with the kids for hours.

My mind’s eye saw lazy afternoons of colouring in, enjoying late night hide-&-seek giggles, discovering bugs in the garden, sharing relaxing back rubs and foot massages…

The reality was much different. Much. 

Instead, I’ve spent the first few weeks of lockdown cleaning, cooking, feeding, cleaning, feeding, feeding, feeding. And spent the last few weeks recovering from the shock – in safe retreat, in front of my laptop, catching up on the admin items I’ve been shifting from one New Year’s resolution list to the next.

The quality family time stayed on the list, but never actually made it to the top.

Looking back over the lockdown period now, I realise that as much as I long to speed our lives back to the main track again, so much do I also long to pull the brakes. I would’ve liked more time. I know that fate offered me possibly the best opportunity ever at “extra time”, but I kept getting sidetracked. It’s all very confusing. Instead of doing things with my kids, I constantly felt the need to “get things done” instead. The opportunity to create fond memories of our lockdown time together was dangling right in front of me. Yet I always seemed to rather opt for sitting down and eating the chocolate brownies, instead of reaching for that carrot.

Needless to say that I’m a little disappointed (but just a little bit) that my kids are now all returning to school.

So, thank goodness for load shedding.

As the lights went off, my bulb came on. Maybe lockdown didn’t set the board for game time with the kids, but load shedding sure does. I round them up.

We start with Twister. It requires that they listen to instructions about left / right hands and feet – placing them on coloured circles. All my kids very well know their lefts from rights, and their rights from wrongs, but apparently not when in awkward positions in such close proximity to one another. The middle one’s elbow is poking the eldest in the back – just because he can blame it on the game. The little one wants to put his foot on the red circle. I didn’t call red. Also, his brother’s hand is already on that circle. The little one’s bum is too close for comfort to the middle one’s face. The eldest is on all fours. The little one cannot resist the temptation, abandons the game, and jumps on his back. In an ideal world, this would turn into a playful wrestling game between loving siblings. In my real world, it turns into fits of screaming about personal space and doing things on purpose. I call it quits.

The middle one wants to play giant Jenga next. The little one wants to build the tower up to his nose. The first two rounds are remarkably peaceful. The eldest one gets upset about everyone else’s choice of block to remove, because they’re not applying enough strategic thinking. The little one is upset about it taking too long to be his turn. As a result, I lose my turns and am designated to hold the tower steady. I try to explain that the aim of the game is to build as high as possible without the tower falling over – and my holding it is actually cheating. They don’t hear a thing I’m saying. It requires some mom-practiced sneakiness to slightly move a few blocks to stabilise the construction while they are focused on rapidly building the tower higher. This building mission is epic. We reach chin height. I slowly remove my hands to marvel at the creation. The youngest can’t contain himself and impulsively kicks it to the ground. It was a split second before it would’ve tumbled down anyway. Everyone is shattered. I buy peace by offering to pick up the blocks on my own and allowing the eldest to not play anymore.

We change to a game for younger kids, where we draw cards and build sandwiches. It takes great memory skills and swift hands to manipulate the game in such a way that they each win equal amounts of rounds. Despite my best efforts to keep them both winning, the middle child’s golden heart is aching about my lack of points. To make things more difficult, the little one gets overly excited and grabs the cards he needs to win from my pile, because “sharing is caring”. While they argue, I forge their hands to win a round. The middle one is suspicious. He is also happy for me. He is also clearly disappointed that his good luck ran out. The little one declares that we’re actually a team and that he won with me. He starts singing a victory song on repeat. The middle one’s happiness-for-me turns to annoyance. He stomps off to the loo – to probably never return.

I’ve lost two players and am stuck with only the little one. So much for family game time. He wants to play giant pickup sticks. He takes a few stabs at the cat with his “tiny sword”. He insists on sorting the sticks according to colours before we can start. I sigh at the moment of peace – an educational opportunity, plus time to finish my cold coffee. (Now, THIS is winning for me.) We finally get to start the game. I explain the goal. One would expect that his tiny fingers would offer an advantage. Yet, the entire pile moves with every stick he touches. I subtly refer to the rules of the game again. He picks up the cat and puts him on top of the pile. I guess that’s the abrupt end to another game. I don’t have the energy to reprimand him for his lack of sportsmanship.

We go jump on the trampoline instead.

Suddenly they’re all interested in joining again. It actually rarely happens that I jump with the kids. Although it’s a large trampoline, they just can’t seem to keep to their allocated corners, and (like playing) they literally want to be on top of me here too. The eldest can’t resist to double-bounce the middle one. He lands halfway off the trampoline – on the soft padding. Yet, the screams indicate agony. I remove myself from the chaos and go sit on the swing.

They all want to swing. There are only two swings. I convince the little one to push me instead. The middle one is too big for my lap, but needs to get on it. The little one starts shaking the swing, instead of pushing it. The middle one tells him that “jealously makes you nasty and nastiness makes you fat”. The little one is upset, because he doesn’t want to be fat. I get off the swing. The little one immediately gets on before the middle one takes my spot and insists on being pushed – while he is standing. I gently push him with my foot. He wants to go higher. I tell him to sit down first. He insists that he is holding on tight. I push a little higher. He wants to go much higher. I ask him to sit down or I’ll stop pushing. He bends down. I tell him it doesn’t count as sitting. He insists that it does. I tell him to push himself if he doesn’t want to listen. I love it how one can use moments like these as teaching moments, as well as a ticket out.

I open the sand pit and invite everyone in. The middle one is excited. He loves building. The little one doesn’t want to get sand in his shoes. He doesn’t want to take his shoes off either. The eldest is too mature to play in sand. The youngest decides that he will take his shoes off if he can build a real dam with real water. The power comes back on. I offer to go fetch some water for the dam and disappear to go make coffee.

I watch the kettle intently, in order for it to take as long as possible to boil. I need to buy some alone time. I move my gaze to the kids in the distance. They seem to finally enjoy themselves – all three of them. For some reason, when I’m not there to direct the play or to catalyse their competition for my attention, they get along very well. 

Maybe it’s not game time with mom they really need after all. 

It’s just load shedding.

11 July 2020: Lockdown Day 107

It’s been over a hundred days.

Opposite of the saying “too little, too late”, our corona lockdown was “too much, too soon” – and now everyone seems to be “over it”.

We’ve passed Day 100, earned the badge and the pat on the back for being compliant citizens, and now everyone is desperate to experience some form of “normal” life again.

Ironically, with the rapid increase in covid cases, we stand at the start of what should actually be hard lockdown, but (at least mentally) our isolation has ended.

I am also slowly emerging from my cocoon. Maybe not as gracefully, but definitely with a butterfly effect. There are so many extra daily self-checks. Is it colder outside today or do I have a fever? Do I have my phone, car keys AND mask? Can I manage to run in for just bread and milk this time, and would holding my breath at the cash register be worth it? Did I remember to put on a bra?

Makeup feels heavy, groomed hair feels tight, shoes feel small. I had someone at my house the other day whose eyes kept wandering to the bed socks I was still wearing by late afternoon. I wanted to explain that they’re very suitable for today’s weather, but then didn’t even bother. That’s my big lockdown lesson-to-self:  life’s about more. My family is healthy. My footwear doesn’t matter. (And if you ever feel judged into a corner, you can just cough loudly.)

My eldest son returned to school this week. The other two still enjoy June holidays. Don’t think they need a holiday after being home for more than three months already, but I sure do deserve it. That means one out of my three children is experiencing some sense of normality. At this point 33% feels like a pass mark.

Well, not quite normality as we remember it. My son’s disappointment almost spilled from his eyes when he returned home after his first school day. No verbal picture painting could prepare him for not being allowed to get close to the friends he last saw at the start of the year. His ears were mask-bruised and his hands were sanitizer-dried. His backpack was too heavy (they have to keep all their books at hand due to no sharing allowed). His mood was also too heavy (it’s “unfair” that some of his friends are continuing with home schooling). I had no choice but to lighten the situation with a long hug and extra screen time. So much for our school-is-starting-resolutions. Seems like the tv is staying on for the rest of 2020.

I also didn’t quite grasp the effect of having school mornings again.

I overplanned, set three alarms, and double checked my phone in the middle of the night to ensure it didn’t magically power off. It took two cups of coffee and twice as long as usual to fill the lunch box. His blazer mysteriously shrunk overnight and stains appeared on his tie when he was about to get into the car. I had to eat four crunchies to silence the butterflies in my stomach when my husband finally left to drop him off.

So many new things ahead. My youngest son turned four. He outgrew the toddler phase too fast. He also outgrew the “why phase” and we’ve entered the “because I don’t like to” phase. I’ll miss his angle wings.

He now knows the answers to all questions. He also disagrees with all my answers to his questions. His previous innocent curiosity made way for a new smugness at my reactions to his actions.

An example of a recent event:  

We just parked at home. I really have to run to the loo. It’s already a matter of possibly not running, but rather hopping there cross-legged. He wants to undo the carseat himself. I ignore the protest and just unclick it. He clicks it back in – insisting that he is big. I know this power struggle might take a while. I’m choosing my battle. I make a dramatic excuse for forgetting that he is now four and beg him to just hurry. He wants to know why. I tell him I need to wee. Now.

His facial expression literally turns from annoyance (about my lack of respect for his “new age number” and ability to do everything himself) to amusement (about my uncomfortable situation and the obvious control he suddenly experiences).

He quickly unbuckles (I’m impressed for a second), swings one leg over the seat, spends a moment admiring the handle he just discovered on the ceiling above the door frame, hangs from it with both hands, looks me dead in the eye and tells me to just go on the grass. He shows no intention of getting out.

I talk slowly. I explain that I cannot go on the grass. I really want to go on the loo. I am in a hurry. He will stay in the car, if he doesn’t get out immediately. I will not come when he calls. I need to go. Now.

He talks back slowly, forming every word perfectly. (I should remember modelling speech like this.) He is stuck on the first part of what I said. He wants to know WHY I cannot go on the grass. Seriously? Where did my parenting fail? He should’ve picked this up by now – he rarely lets me go to the loo alone. I offer the quickest possible anatomy lesson and include some science basics, like the difficulty to direct liquid at an angle without a pipe or spout.

He wants to know why I am a mom and not a boy then. (I obviously lied to myself about the why-ing phase being over.) I tell him, now a little less patiently, it’s because my parents just made me this way – I couldn’t choose. He reflects. He is upset about not having had a choice at birth either. I remind him to hurry. He wanted to choose. I ask him if he wants to go back in time and choose to be a girl. He is appalled by the insult. I made my point. He is satisfied and willing to get out of the car now. All this talk about the matter escalated my problem. I leave him at the car and run. He is shocked and yells: “But I got out in a hurry like you asked!”

During lockdown, my eldest son taught me new recipes via his TikTok interests. My middle son taught me everything about Minecraft via his constant quizzing. My youngest son taught me to breathe deeply, sit down, and take time to answer with patience.

Lockdown also offered me time to sort out the house (again). I got rid of the junk. I temporarily stored away all the lidless plastic containers, in case their lids appear again (together with the single socks). I threw away puzzles with missing pieces, cars without wheels, broken pencils, hideous artwork. Some of the “accidentally trashed” artwork got retrieved by the kids and I had to promise to treasure it forever to proof my innocence and appreciation.

I passed on the clothes I’ll still fit in later, the art supplies my boys will still fall in love with, the old bedding we’ll still use one day for camping. I finally finished the memory boxes for my kids, finally figured out the gadgets I bought the years before, finally unsubscribed from the spam mails that frustrate me every morning.

I’ve cleaned, sorted, filed, repaired, and decluttered. I reward myself with the delusion that now, once everything is in its place, it’ll be easy to keep it this way. I fall for it every time. The reality is that this process will have to be repeated (sooner than what I’m comfortable with). Life is all about repeats. And living causes chaos, not the number of things you own or the number of members in the household. It’s living. It’s having a household. And lockdown taught me to appreciate that.

Lockdown also taught me to appreciate having no loadshedding on the schedule, more than having a busy social schedule. Lockdown taught me to appreciate having healthy children, more than tidy children. It taught me to appreciate getting up before everyone else, because it’s not the torture I previously experienced it to be – it’s the best shot at alone time. Lockdown taught me to start appreciating packing school lunch boxes and driving around for hours between extra murals, more than wishing life could be calmer.

I appreciate my preference for good coffee over good wine. (Some people were in quite a panic back then.) I appreciate not being a smoker. (Some people still panic.) I appreciate generally preferring online shopping anyway. I appreciate the privilege of being able to social distance in comfort. I appreciate looking forward to play dates, beach days, and hugging friends. (For some people lockdown doesn’t impact on any of these.) And I appreciate my cleaner (for obvious reasons).

So, with businesses open and kids returning to school, it pretty much feels like lockdown “ended”. Although the health protocols and social distancing and financial burdens will most likely escalate, it feels like, emotionally, we’re “over it”. We came out stronger and wiser – with butterfly wings.

It’s a brave new world.


4 June 2020: Lockdown Day 70

The world wants to return to normal.

Some want to debunk the covid threat. Some want to demask the uncompromised. Some are making peace with inevitably contracting the virus. Some are preparing stockup for the coming wave. Some are grateful that we can fully shop again. Some are grateful to go back to work again. Some are grateful that there’s still a job to go back to. Some are just grateful that we can finally drink again. For some (even those that were caught in the rat race pre-covid and needed this calmer time), the novelty of staying home is now wearing off. For some (even those with good children) that novelty has worn off weeks ago. Because, while some are focused on the UIF payouts that haven’t happened yet, and the cigarettes that we can’t buy yet, and the beaches we can’t access yet, some moms are still faced with the schools that haven’t opened yet. And, until then, our world has not returned to normal. In a different life, this wouldn’t have been all that bad. I actually considered teaching as a profession in my early twenties (which was just the other day). I also seriously considered home schooling – but that was way before I actually had kids and knew what this would entail. (I now downright snigger at my prekid intentions around exemplary entertainment, structure, and discipline.) Homeschooling isn’t tough, because I am a bad teacher. I tick most of the boxes. It would just have been smoother sailing if I had a different crew on board. My students aren’t exactly cooperative eager-beavers. They’re more like drunken pirates. And I am a captain with a wooden leg and one eye. And the boat is small. And the storm is big. And while one child wants to have a sword fight with my wooden leg, the other tries to make the parrot walk the plank. That’s the picture.  
I take my hat off to the teachers of my two younger ones.
Teachers either have some skills I cannot fathom, or some passion I cannot mimic, or a threat-bribe system I’m not aware of. I realise that I shouldn’t take it personally. I am teaching three boys, in three vastly different phases of development – around one dining room table. And I suspect that female students are more gifted at sitting still and paying attention. It’s at times like these that I know I wasn’t wrong to continue trying for a girl. It’s also at times like these that I know I was right to stop trying by child number three. But I find peace in Zoom calls. Because it’s proof that I might be in this boat alone, but we’re all in the same storm. Other kids aren’t exactly model students either. My three-year old misses his teacher. He is a new generation kid, so he Whatsapp-video calls. Now, on a good day, my mobile internet connection isn’t great at home, which means that he has to stand quite still, in one room, for the conversation to flow fluently. He is a pacer. I bend down to his level and form a human shield, to try and restrict the movement of his body, as well as the rapid movement of the phone – all while not being allowed to touch the device. When I’m in his way, he grandly swipes me away (with the hand holding the phone). This results in his teacher mostly viewing our ceiling or part of his chin. As for conversation, his long stories are conducted in toddler English (with Afrikaans grammar), about completely irrelevant events or last night’s dreams – mostly interrupted by himself to tell her that she sounds funny (because of the video lag). Yet, she laughs and comments (surprisingly appropriately). They hang up as old friends and my child’s emotional tank is full again. My seven-year old has Zoom calls, which include reading and math sessions with his teacher and a small group of classmates. This is highly entertaining. Such a video class session requires at least ten minutes of warmup, because either someone didn’t receive the link on time, someone’s audio is accidentally muted, there’s a screen on a wrong setting, someone forgot to bring their book, the laptop’s battery is almost flat, the background siblings need to be relocated to another room, or someone needs to go to the toilet first. This is on a day with good internet connection on all sides. Our usual challenge is to find a location in the house where we’ll be undisturbed for half an hour, hoping there won’t be any incoming calls while using the phone, where I can contain my child in one spot without much room for him to melt into a lying down position, with good light, and not too much clutter in the background for everyone to see. When there is no video lag, plus silent cooperation from all, and if the teacher manages to get her message across, the first graders either answer out of turn or can’t resist the urge to share their knowledge and indicate the answers with their fingers and dramatic facial expressions, as if it’s a game of charades. My middle child is usually still in pyjamas. This would’ve been quite acceptable under the current weather circumstances, but then he dramatically yawns throughout the session, as if he either just woke up or the class is boring him to death. I end these quickly with sharp elbow nudges in his ribs, taking care not to jolt the phone I’m holding up for him – hard enough to make my point, but not too much for him to cry out and reveal my presence next to him. The reading session is interrupted by one child walking around with his device. He denies it. I quickly lean in for a comparison to make myself feel better, in the hope that their house is as messy as ours. (It’s not.) Another child disappeared from the screen, but we can still hear him talking to himself from under the desk he was sitting at. One is pulling faces at his self-image on the screen – seemingly oblivious that we now all smile at him, instead of listening to the teacher. Another tilted the screen up and we see up his nose. One wants to tell us something out of context and runs off to fetch his interest, ignoring the teacher’s patient attempt to direct him back to class. My usual chatterbox lost his tongue and zooms out instead of in. The teacher asks him to read a sentence and he whisper-spells the words, while looking at me for reassurance, although he knows the letters perfectly well when the spotlight is off. During maths, my child exaggerate-sighs before answering his sums, as if his teacher is completely ridiculous to ask him such simple questions. She gets the point and shifts up a gear. He now copies her question twice in his best animated voice to buy himself time to work out the answer. It’s his friend’s turn and he utilises this break to slump half his face into his bundled up pyajama top – a position which can neither be comfortable, nor make a good impression. I poke my index finger under his bum to subtly nudge him back to a sitting position. We end the call and I start a private session on respect and body language. As I said – highly entertaining.  We move back to the communal school table. While on the Zoom call, the eldest child drew pictures over his math page. He starts explaining that they can be rubbed out, but I’m on a roll to make a point about respect and crumple up the page. The little one coloured half of his weather chart, on which we should indicate each day’s weather – and we’re still only at the start of the month. I don’t have the energy to redraw the chart, so I don’t crumple up his page. I get a lecture from my eldest about fairness. The middle one feels that, after his short Zoom session, he should be done with school for the day. I reluctantly announce a break and send them to go jump on the trampoline. The eldest one “double bounces” the little one. He starts wailing. I am a master at judging pain levels based on the tone of cry, so I just switch on the kettle to drown out the noise. The middle one runs inside and very excitedly trumpets that his brother needs punishment for hurting the little one. A heavy debate breaks out between the older two about appropriate action. I sip my coffee. The little one sneaks away to go watch tv. I declare end of break, because they are not showing appreciation. Everyone returns to the table sulking. I look at my crew. Our ship is sinking. We decide to have an early lunch instead. This homeschooling thing is tough. Sometimes we’re on top of the boat – sunning on the deck. Sometimes we’re swimming amongst the sharks. Sometimes it’s a little rocky and some of us get seasick. Sometimes the weather is good and we fully enjoy the ride. Although we seem to be getting our sea legs now, I must admit that finding land soon would be great…

31 May 2020: Lockdown Day 66

It feels like the day before my birthday.

Way back when birthdays were still something to get excited about… Tomorrow is Monday and we’re being set free. Well, almost. After 11 weeks of staying within the boundaries of our property, we’ll be grateful, even if the leash is short. Level 3 will be less like prison and more like house arrest – with an ankle monitor. With this new found freedom, I foresee some awkward social encounters. My husband has been going to the office for only two weeks now. I have been to the minimarket down the road only once (and had a few doctor visits last week), so we’re still newbies at this. I’ll have to hone my people reading skills. If we meet in town, do we hug or do we remote high-five? Now that we’ll be allowed to act and think for ourselves again, who is in the avoid-infection-at-all-cost camp and who herds with the contract-the-virus-and-get-it-over-and-done-with crowd? Who’s sitting on the fence? Will be difficult to tell behind those masks. As much as we appreciate being allowed out to almost all shops now, actually, we just want to go to the beach. Please. And I’ll trade the next few years’ school holidays, if the schools can just open for all the grades. Pretty please. It’s testing being a mom-teacher. For three kids. In three different grades. (Which testing-of-patience is just amongst other things.) We’re catching up on some school work, because I was “off sick” with a vibration in my head most of this week. The kids know better than to moan about it being weekend. We’ve established quite early in lockdown that days of the week don’t count anymore. If screen time is now allowed during the week, school work is allowed over weekends. Mission of the day is to get the middle one to make his “s”, “9” and “7” the right way around. He is sharpening his pencil, again. He has reduced three new pencils to thumb size ones since lockdown. I confiscate the sharpener. He pokes holes in the already tiny eraser with his flame sharp pencil-sword. I confiscate the eraser. The little one grabs it and erases everything he has done thus far. The middle one scolds him before I could and grabs his eraser back. The little one cries, because his brother is grabbing and that it’s “unfair”. I scold the little one for using the forbidden word, scold the middle one for scolding his brother, break the eraser in half, and give each one a piece. The little one is upset, because the eraser is now too small. The middle one jumps up to fetch his cat. The older one scolds him for never giving the cat a break. The little one chirps a nonsensical comment, which contains the word “poop”. The middle child is upset, because I’m not telling the little one off for saying “poop” – and asks if he can play tv-games now. (This is not even because we’re trying to have school on a weekend day. This is a typical school day for us, every day.) I fetch the wooden spoon. It lives on top of the extractor fan. It’s the largest one in the house, on which I drew a sad face with a permanent marker. Although it never (ok, very, very seldom) gets used, it still serves its intimidation purpose. Not today. I’m not on top of my game. They’re calling my bluff. This is what happens when you let slip for even just one day. I warn to not give them a star today. The little one immediately sits up straight. The middle one returns to the table with his cat on his lap. The eldest one isn’t as easily threatened anymore. Plus, he arrived upset. He completed his work for the week, but has to take one for the team. I pretend not to notice the obvious signals of disapproval. (But he now doesn’t dare say it’s unfair.) I politely ask him if it’s his tummy rumbling when I can’t ignore the groans any longer. He seizes the opportunity and gets up to make a sandwich. The other two are also starving. I want to point out that we just had breakfast, but just sigh loudly instead. The eldest one, against his nature, offers to make sandwiches for everyone, just to get out of school work. The little one wants to work with the glue. I give him pieces of paper to stick down. The middle child’s work needs to be rubbed out, because he’s done half the letters the wrong way around, and some on the wrong line. I turn my back to put the cat outside. The little one spreads glue all over his brother’s pencils. I move their chairs further apart and stipulate imaginary border lines, which shall not be crossed. The middle one needs the eraser, which is in his brother’s territory. This means he can’t erase his work and he “quits”. He dramatically gets up to go to the loo. He fetches his cat from outside on the way there. The little one is suddenly dying of thirst and gets up to fetch water. The eldest is still making sandwiches. I go fetch the middle one from the loo, from where he is ignoring my calls. The toilet is filled all the way to the top with toilet paper. I start a lecture on the allowed number of squares per poo. The middle one denies that he is at fault. I call the little one. He casually explains that he rolled down two rolls to get to the binoculars inside. I hold my breath, close one eye, and start removing the paper from the toilet. The middle one starts quizzing me from the doorway. I need to guess which letter of the alphabet will win in a battle. No matter how creative I am, none of my answers are correct. He is just way out of the box. The little one catches on. He pipes up with more battleground questions. I have to guess who will win – a potato or a centipede. And a spoon or two socks. And our retired, half blind cat or two bowls of Weetbix. I get most of the toilet paper out, flush the loo, the water rises to the top. I sigh loudly. I rush everyone back to the school table. The sandwiches are there, but the eldest is gone. Of course, he suddenly realised his hair needs washing. We switch over to reading. The middle one spells out every word beautifully, but not at all what’s written on the page. He is blatantly guessing. The little one echoes him. I tell him to just go play on my phone, so I can pay attention to the middle one’s reading. The middle one almost falls off his chair at the unfairness of it all. The vibration in my head turns into a small thunderstorm.  I call it a day. I had the vibration checked out last Friday, when I considered that it might be a blood pressure issue. I got booked for an MRI immediately and spent hours at the hospital. Ends up being nothing as sinister as the neurologist suspected, but it was an eye opener. (The vibration is still there, but I’ve made peace with it – that it’s just nerves. And probably the members of the household working on them. Except my husband, of course. He’d never work on my nerves. He is awesome. See, Etienne – told you I’ll write something about you today. Wink-wink.) Moved from the confinement of my home (for the first time in over two months) to the confinement of the MRI machine, gave me so much to think about. Mostly whether they could see up my hospital gown, if I shaved properly, if anyone would notice the hairs on my big toes, how long before I’d go insane listening to the deafening beeps… During those hours, I wondered about the fears of the many people who were in there before me, expecting bad news. And what I would do in such a case… (Not that I was scared of my vibration turning into an emotional explosion, but I played out all the movie-like scenarios of imaginary people to pass the time.) I also did loads of mental checks – are my admin and filing in order, are all my bills paid, are my cupboards neat and tidy. I realised that none of those things would matter if one suddenly hears the time is short.
None of the material things we work so hard for and spend so much time on, would matter.
If my time is suddenly cut short, I would want to sell everything I worked so hard at accumulating for my children – and travel the world with my family. I would stop their schooling and just be with them. I would make daily videos of our time together. I would be fun mum. And, as much as I thought that lockdown is totally curing that pre-lockdown guilt feeling of not spending enough time with my kids, I actually haven’t had enough of this yet. I’m going to treasure our forced time together, maybe sometimes bite my lip to help with the endurance, but wear my ankle monitor proudly – before our time is cut short.