I find it quite difficult to write during a crisis. I find that I can be quite negative especially when I feel overwhelmed, which I openly admit at times I have felt. But as lock-down is beginning to ease and things are starting to revert back to some sense of normality, I have started to enter what I like to call my reflective period, which is always a good time for me to write.
Coronacoaster: noun: The ups and downs of the pandemic. One day you’re loving your bubble, doing workouts & baking sourdough, the next you’re crying, drinking wine for breakfast & missing people who you don’t even like.
Hands up all those parents who have experienced the aptly named ‘Coronacoaster’?
I was actually quite happy to see the creation of this meme/word – it encompassed my behaviour and emotions perfectly. It made me feel a little less like a failure on those days we didn’t get dressed, or we binged Netflix, or I utilised electric babysitters just a little too much. Social media for all the great things that it does, it can also create this mirage of expectations which people try to fulfil – with great difficulty. All the vegetable growing, the home made garden bars, hot tub surges and the DIY transformations literally made me, quite frankly, sick. I even decided to paint my hall stairs and landing. I’m not going to lie, it’s really ‘up there’ with one of the most stupid decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to spruce up your abode or have a lovely garden, but I did feel like I wasn’t living my best ‘lock-down life’ by not doing all those things.
Comparing myself to others lives on social media did make me feel inadequate. It’s reminiscent of when I used to observe other blind children’s achievements online when Scarlett was first born and having an image of the things that she could and should be doing. As Scarlett grew older and it became clear that there were things she couldn’t achieve that I expected and waiting for to be met with a big wall of disappointment. I’m obviously very much at peace with this now as Scarlett has her own potential to achieve and I no longer compare her to others – but to still compare my life to ones on social media was a lesson I thought I had learnt.
As Scarlett has an EHCP she did fall under the category for a child who could continue to go to school… but as her school is a residential for complex needs children, they had to prioritise the students who live there all year round. Which means she has been off school now since March aka an eternity. I am very proud of Scarlett and astonished really at how she has responded to having her world tipped upside down. Scarlett loves school and she works on a daily basis with a full team of trained professionals with copious amounts of support and input. I felt completely useless in the sense that I could not recreate the school environment and have been worried that she would digress. It broke my heart right at the start of lock-down when she managed to find her school shoes and stood by the door chanting ‘school school’ with her little patent leather clarks on thinking that would be the key.
The school have been great in terms of contact and asking if there is anyway they could support Scarlett. It would be great if I could write here that I followed all the lesson plans, did all the occupational therapy suggestions, followed all the YouTube videos they created but I haven’t. Some days we have done absolutely nothing. I am not going to feel bad about that because she has been happy. The whole time she has just laughed and sang and bounced and played with her toys. I took her to the beach when she asked, we’ve returned to the park which she loves. Some things can’t be explained to Scarlett in the usual sense. She doesn’t have the cognitive ability to process fully what is happening as I have discussed here in my previous blog ‘What does corona virus mean to me?- Scarlett’s account’.
Scarlett has no up coming exams that she needs to work towards or an official curriculum that she needs to complete which is the opposite of Sonny really. Sonny worked really hard with his homeschooling as did I at the start. He improved in all kinds of areas and was completely compliant – he was an absolute superstar. The fact I could actually do so much for him in terms of education and so little for Scarlett was disheartening. It was really difficult to split my time between the two and as Scarlett is quite happy in her own little world just giggling away and snacking, it was quite easy for me to just plough all my time into Sonny and his school work. I reached a point where I thought Scarlett needs a bit more attention, her school environment is on a one to one basis for a reason. I took the decision to send Sonny back to school 4 weeks ago. As a family unit this was the best possible move for us to make. As time passed and all the days started to amalgamate into one, we were desperate for some kind of routine and it really did make a difference. Sonny, who has always helped Scarlett with things here and there, was starting to be tasked with much more support and assistance with Scarlett – in an organic sense. Scarlett knows she can ask Sonny for toilet and he would take her or drink and he would get it for her… his ‘young carer’ role was starting to grow and I didn’t want that to continue.
I hope that the relaxation of rules has impacted positively on your family unit. Whether you have home schooled or sent your children back, I applaud you and your personal choices for this. I hope the extra time with your loved ones has been a great blessing too. I suppose what I am trying to say is that no matter how you have spent your lock-down and the choices you have made… well done. It’s been a tricky, testing time so be kind to yourself. Don’t worry that you haven’t done the best you can or made the most of it… it really is detrimental to constantly feel that you should have done more.