Archives for the month of: June, 2020

Hi,

More upbeat this week as a couple of you- you know who you are (and thank you for caring) were worried about my doom-laden approach last week. I think I just judged it wrong- maybe not everyone knows the world as we know it is beginning to end… (just joking).

Maybe I just meant to say something new is beginning. At the start of this all, in all the mix of emotions that everyone had, there was a wonderful new positivity. No cars, no planes, everyone appreciating outside, everyone joining together to help out. I thought it was amazing and it helped get me through the first few weeks and beyond the Easter holidays (that and a whole raft of online courses I did for school). It felt like it was a chance for everyone to stop, rethink and then restart just slightly differently.

So has it lasted? How do we know? Sometime early on I started thinking about what I wanted to keep from the strange world we were living in in lockdown. One of them was walking in the woods more- my son and I still do this, another was more online learning. I had always intended to do some, but 1) never knew where to look, 2)couldn’t find the time -the lockdown provided me with the answers to both of them. At the moment I am doing a  free course on basic accounting and bookkeeping to see if it is worth pursuing as a second income (actually its quite dull at the moment). It has been great to learn something new, even if most of it might not be much use in the long run.

Other things have lasted as well, one of them really good. For the past year or so I have periodically mentioned to my constantly tired husband that he should consider working from home regularly. His commute is 90- 120 mins each way, everyday. On the last day of schools being open and before lockdown proper he came home with a huge monitor and successfully worked at home for the 10 weeks of lockdown. And it was fine, we didn’t argue, the children didn’t annoy him too much, he got work done. He is now back in the office two days a week, but still at home 3 days (hopefully this will continue after the children go back). It is a good thing. He is here for tea when the most important conversations of the day happen, he is not tired, he has his weekends free to do other things than just catch up with the jobs he hasn’t done (Lawnmowing, bin emptying) and the children see him as part of their everyday lives- which for a while he wasn’t very much.

For the children I am not sure what they would like to last from this. Maybe my daughter likes being left alone in her room to do work at her own pace. I don’t think my son is enjoying his school’s approach to home learning as much as he was- there are only 2 weeks left for him. His school has already informed parents of possible plans for September, that in the worst case have him only at school every other week, and seem to still have asychnrous asynchrous  independent learning in the afternoon. Maybe this is the way they should go anyway, I think he has benefitted from more free time – and from being home earlier. I think both my children have benefitted from this bizarre term, my daughter has learnt to manage her time and managing her stress levels (mainly by getting work done so she is not worried about it). However, a huge however, it has gone on long enough!!! I can not wait until September and finding out what the next normal is.

Fingers crossed that the new normal is good.

 

 

 

 

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And if this is the end of days and life as we know it is there actually anything we can do about it? I think its probably just a bad week. Obviously it is a bad week, 3 people dead in a random stabbing in Reading. I wonder when I read this back in years to come if I will even remember the circumstances, I hope I do but don’t really know what else to type about it. I don’t think I will feel less safe in Reading when we finally go back into the town, I am not sure we are any less safe in Reading then we were when we went in before. There is a sadness that people can die like that but beyond that we don’t feel the impact unless we knew them.  Hmm, written more than I meant to.

So the end of days is here- isn’t it- aren’t we all aware of this that -this is the beginning of the end of the world. I am not about to go and stand on the street with a sandwich board but surely someone should mention it…. or maybe it’s just me.

To be honest this is probably due to lack of sleep. It was so hot last night; I spent most of it lying awake thinking too much. Mainly thinking about lost time and lost opportunity and how come September I was going to have to get up at 6 am again and go through the first weeks of tears and tiredness with my son as he goes back to school (I hope this will be very much like having a second baby- the first 6 weeks are horrendous but at least you know they will get better). I am feeling a bit down today, not enough sleep and worries left over from last night (mainly about the poor quality learning my children have been doing and if I should be doing more for them- I am not entirely sure what I can do). At the moment my son is on a break, laughing out loud at a youtube video about Minecraft- much more animated then when he’s staring at a screen for lessons. I worry about him being left behind his peers due to my lack of involvement in his lessons and learning, but another part of me thinks this is a valuable way for him to take responsibility for his own learning and help him be built into A Good Man- as that is the Reading Way- lets see if he stops watching his video without me having to remind him. **he didn’t**

My daughter gave a session on resilience to her Brownie Unit yesterday- and is now officially a Peer Educator for Berkshire Guiding- she constantly amazes me as she is braver than I have been.

So if this is the beginning of the end of the world does it really matter? Would I do anything differently, maybe, maybe not. I would like to see the sea before we all die. Can we do anything about it- sadly I think not, not really. Just carry on as before, trying to do the right thing and trying to keep our little corner of Reading safe, healthy and a little bit more eco than it was before.

At least it’s sunny.

I am beginning to appreciate the beauty of the blog, or of keeping a diary. I have just flicked back through previous posts- both published and unpublished and found myself remembering things about lockdown that I had previously forgotten. I think, much like having a new baby, we easily forget the worst bits, the days of worry and stress and sadness. Looking back at some of the entries I haven’t published yet where I was wallowing in fear and sorrow at the shutting of schools, and the days when I felt scared to go out, or guilty for going out. I forgot all that. Sadly I also beginning to forget the sense of community spirit that (briefly) arose, when everyone seemed to want to help, when a huge amount of people signed up to the government volunteer programme- a task that seemed to be superseded by local Facebook groups, the clapping for the NHS, the trying to still celebrate VE day. It seems to be dying already here, but I suppose it is nice to know that there is a community spirit in all of us, waiting to be called upon.

So back to the title, the return to normal. On the face of it I am back to normal, 3 days a week going to my place of work, a primary school. Of those 3 days one of them is spent cleaning- although I am not sure this is the correct word, spraying everything with anti-bac would be a better description- a classroom and toilet. The other two are spent as a teaching assistant to a group of up to 11 Year 6 students. We have done this for one week, it worked well. The children are pleased to be back, and relieved, I think, that actually social distancing isn’t too hard (it’s harder for the teaching staff as we are now limited to only 3 people in the staff room at one time).  The hardest thing at the moment seems to be them remembering not to share things, their plastic trays are filling up with the pens and pencils they have had to borrow from the school supply.

These 11 children, myself and the teacher are now in a bubble. When we are in school they are not allowed to mix with other children. The playground, field and woods have been divided up so that each bubble has its own space, clearly marked out with cones and tape. Friends in different bubbles can sit one metre either side of the boundary  and talk to each other. Each bubble is in for two days, this meant we could split 42 children into 4 groups (2 attend Monday/Tuesday, 2 attend Thursday/Friday). Wednesday is deep cleaning with anti-bac day. Deep cleaning and anti-bac do not go together in my head. Children have to bring in their own pencil case and stay sat in their seats, they wash their hands as often as possible. Books are marked with stuck in post-it notes- apparently virus stays on paper for a long time and unions were worried about teachers picking it up from books. We have provided them with a white board and pen and a plastic drawer to keep it all in. The Year 1s are also back, a few less of them came in than the Year 6s. All our nursery and reception children have been offered two days to come back, as we take children from the term after they are 3 that is quite a lot of children.

It seems fine, I assume iff  the R number drops then some of the bubble rules will change. The Y6s were allowed back in to help them get secondary ready, I suppose this rigid adherence to rules will help them. It is a start to return to normal, so it is good.

My husband has also started the return to normal, he is going to the office twice a week, on the days when I am not at work. This means the other three days he has to deal with the stresses and joys of home-schooling, which actually for my two is fairly straightforward. For my children, normal seems a long way off, they have now established their own routines- the main part of this seems to be calling friends dead on 3.30 when their school day finishes. I am just going to check what the oldest one is doing right now… (she also has a daily routine of a walk after lunch and being in her room at all other possible times). …. and she was planning a session on resilience that wants to deliver via zoom to her Brownie pack. I am very proud of my children 🙂

I have gone into lots of detail in this, because I know, even  if no-one else does, I will read it again and I want to try and catch a bit of how I feel.

The other thing I have to put down about the first week back is how I, as TA, had nothing to do in the classroom. I am usually sat with a small group, very un-social distanced. So I joined in with their work- here is my lock-down emotions poem- another way to remember how we all felt in these strange times.

Lockdown Emotions

Tired is the colour of rain clouds that gather on the edge of a blue -sky day.

It is the sticky feel of uncooked dough, muddled with walking through treacle.

I catch it waiting for me from the edge of unwatched programmes on the TV.

Tired is me thinking this is all too much.

 

Irritation is itchy, a indigo shiver that runs across my skin.

It is like eating sherbet that fizzes forever, causing tickles on my tongue.

It is dozing on a sunny day as the clouds cover the sun.

Irritation is becoming a house-wife again.

 

Sorrow is blue, a deep, fathomless blue shot with sparkles of teardrops.

It is the taste of sweets long eaten and never found again, the remembrance of yesterday.

It is the gradual creep of water from a leaky pipe, spreading under everything.

Sorrow is realising the schooling and experiences my children have lost.

 

Belonging is rainbows taped to windows, it is hopscotches drawn on the street.

It is a warm, vast hug, a soft squishy bubble engulfing me.

It is a litter of sleeping kittens. Individual muddles but an entwined heap of soft.

Belonging is all of us sewing, donating, helping, clapping.

 

Joy is gold, it is silver, it is bronze.

It is eating sweet nectar after drinking bitter cocoa.

It is sleeping in a sunbeam on a cold winter’s day.

Joy is us, altogether, all safe, all happy.

 

Hmm well..

Until next time.