24 March 2020: Lockdown Day -2

It’s Day 64 of self-isolation.

More accurately, it’s Tuesday. We’ve started staying home last Tuesday. I still left the house on Wednesday, which was also our domestic lady and gardener’s last day until who-knows-when. So, technically, it’s been a week of self-isolation, Day 6 of no social contact, and Day -2 of government enforced isolation.

The not-seeing-other-people part is actually not too bad. I don’t have to put on make-up or shoes. Nor bra. The staying-away-from-town part isn’t bad either. I have a full extra three hours every day, which I would’ve otherwise spent taxiing my kids around.

It’s the kids. 

Don’t judge me, I love them dearly. It’s just different having them at home ALL THE TIME. Of course the same happens during school holidays, but this is different. There’s a sort-of buzz in the air that seems to increase their energy levels and reduce their tolerance towards each other. Or maybe that buzz is just the ringing in my ears from the constant surround-sound. I’ve been spoiled to have a quiet house for many morning hours every school day. I never realised that this is a balancing-peace, which increases my strength to deal with the more noisy hours of the day when the rest of the family is home. Do all kids shout when they talk to each other, or did I somehow misparent in that department? Do they do that in the classroom as well? (Mental note to ask the teachers if my kids are the loudest in class. And how she deals with that.)

Yesterday I promised the kids a trip to the beach if they can play the quiet game very well, while I get some admin done. But then I finally managed to catch up on the 30-odd corona-related Whatsapps my mom sends me daily and saw that all beaches are already closed. That’ll teach me to read my mom’s messages first thing in the morning.

To make matters worse, our internet has been off for a few days. The first few days were my fault, because I assumed Telkom is just being Telkom, so I waited for it to magically come on again. Turns out that the guy at the office didn’t pay the bill, so our account has been suspended. (In his defence, we’ve been in credit for such a long time, due to issues on Telkom’s side, and he just didn’t keep track of when the credit ran out.) The devil on my left shoulder whispered it’s because I have “a guy at the office” taking care of these things. She might have a point there. The angel on my right shoulder reassured me that I needn’t be so hard on myself – we still have DSTV.

So, this morning, I decided that instead of getting the kids to help me clean the house, I’ll reward myself and rather allow them to watch DSTV. They couldn’t believe their luck and were dead still and all contained in a 2 m² space, while I had the house to myself. (Ok, to be more honest, the ‘dead still’ came only after I had to raise my voice a little too loud about just having to all watch the same channel, or nothing.)

I am alone (well, at least in this room).

I walk into the kitchen. Expecting not much. Just enjoying the peace. Just going to do a quick wipedown of the counters, stare out the window for a few seconds, maybe see if someone left something in the prep bowl, do some rearranging in the fridge…

There’s a blood stain on the floor. No-one screamed this morning, so it’s not human. This is nothing new. My cat is a gift that keeps on giving. Sometimes the gifts are alive, sometimes dead, sometimes half. He rarely eats it all. So, I know very well to start looking for the source of the stain on the kitchen floor. I find the dead mouse next to the bin. Luckily it’s small. I pick it up by the tail and can’t help but to do an awkward tiptoe-dance. I feel ripples run up and down my spine. (Why, I don’t even know, as I’m not scared of live mice.) I must’ve let out a yelp, because the kids come running. Not even DSTV can keep them gripped anymore.

I let the mouse slip and instinctively kick it away. The middle child immediately catches on, joins in the fun game, and kicks the mouse under the stove. He doesn’t understand why I’m upset about that. The big one can’t stop laughing at the shenanigans, and the little one screams “me too” repetitively as loud as he can.

Ok, so now the floor really needs to be mopped. I knew that might have to happen today.

The floor in front of the guest loo has been sticky for days, so it’s been at the top of the to-do list. However, I broomed so well yesterday, that I thought I might be able to move this task up a day or two.

I sigh. Here goes.

There are a variety of mops to choose from. A handy Verimark one allows you to squeeze out the water without touching the mop. Another (probably also Verimark, I’m a sucker like that) is completely flat and can reach under the furniture, but won’t hold any water. Two others – one with only half its hair. Another without a handle. One that seems intact, but well used. My cleaner prefers the old-school one with the gross hair, that always smells. After the last few days of cleaning the house, my trust in my cleaner’s abilities grew substantially. I reach for the gross mop.

It takes three buckets of clean water to rinse it properly, before I can begin. Only after I threw the buckets down the drain, I realised that I’ll be the one cleaning the way-too-small grey water tank on the other side of the wash room wall, as there’s not Gift coming in tomorrow. Should’ve chucked the buckets out on the lawn.

The mop still smells mucky. I decide to make a plan and find some vanilla essential oil. I stop myself just in time and consider the possibility of making the water and floor oily. But now I’m set on vanilla. I go get the vanilla room spray from the guest bathroom. It takes at least five minutes to try and screw off the spritzer, so I can pour the liquid into the mop bucket. I end up having to cut open the spray bottle. I get a strange sense of satisfaction when I completely mangle the bottle that caused me so much frustration. I empty the bottle into the mop bucket. It smells wonderful. I wipe the spills over my pants (and a little on my hair). At least I’ll smell like clean floor all day.

I drag the bucket down the hallway. (Mental note to buy a bucket with wheels.) I’m going to start on the opposite side of the house and work my way towards the kitchen, ending in the washroom. I take the mop out of the bucket. It’s heavier than I thought. It splashes on the floor. It’s wetter than it should be. I don’t want to touch the mop (at least not so soon in the exercise), so I just spread the water out over the floor. I realise that it’s probably not a good idea to wet-mop wooden floors with such wide grooves. The dust in the grooves causes little streams of mud. I wonder if my vacuum cleaner can suck liquid. I decide that it won’t be as obvious once it dries.

I fetch an old towel, dry the floor, and then wrap the mop in the towel. I give up. This floor didn’t really need mopping. I return to the kitchen. The blood stains are still there, but they’re now dry and less visible. I rub at it with my big toe. It seems to come off quite easily. I wrap the wet towel around my foot, hop on the other, and scrub the floor only where it needs be to cleaned. I’m impressed with my athletic abilities.

So much for mopping today. When it’s due again, I’ll make it a fun activity and give each child a towel to skate on the floors. I take the bucket and mop outside. We have flies. Of course. Gift isn’t here to pick up the dog’s poop. I turn around and shrug.

At least I smell nice.