We both woke up yesterday in a much calmer state. I wouldn’t say so much “Netfilx and Chill” as flat and resigned. The COVID-19 global pandemic isn’t disappearing overnight, and I feel like the general household consensus was that we had to turn down the emotional energy and stress – or just burn out. Well, apart from Mary who has been happily charging around full of all types of energy and a seeming endlessly full battery.
We both had work to do so we divided up the day. Somewhat clumsily – with interruptions for lunch and a quick jail-break mid-afternoon.
We were hoping our “back garden” (the narrow yard of city garden, Barcelona’s answer to allotments I suppose) would be open. That could just be our green refuge and fresh air haven throughout the 2-week quarantine.
Mary led the way, careening off on her Peppa Pig scooter. We turned around the corner and saw with dismay the giant padlock on the never-normally closed gate. The quarantine just suddenly felt very real.
From stoic resignation to depression, we washed down the new reality with a bottle of wine and went to bed rather the worse for wear.
I was woken up by being thwacked on the head by my own shoe. “MAMA”. I had a pounding headache and Mary was already charging towards the kitchen shouting “NUM NUMS”. It was going to be a long day.
I am now sitting at our kitchen table, after a surprisingly easy day. After the chaotic and unproductive first day, we know did militant shifts. There has been a lot of advice circulating among parent friends of the important of keeping a routine during these strange confined days. Also, because otherwise we would both lose our jobs and sanity.
I took the first shift, and we had a great time! Poor Mary is young enough to find everything a game, and trotted around after me gamely while I cleaned the flat. She got quite into it, and insisted on giving the outside of the washing machine a good sweep with her mini broom, and we had a wonderfully time consuming (now the longer any activity takes the better, we need to fill the days!) game of “Pin the washing out”. She was fascinated by the little wooden clothes pegs and that filled nearly half an hour, bingo!
Mid-morning, I decided to use up my jailbreak of the day. We needed to take out a huge bag of rubbish, also I thought I should get some adult cough syrup just in case we got IT.
As soon as we left the flat we were pounced on by two policemen. “Donde vas Senor(it)a?” (Where are you going Mam?). I stuttered out that I needed to buy food and they asked me why I was taking Mary. “No puedes dejarla en casa?” (Can’t you leave her at home?). I said “No” (a white lie, I couldn’t really as James was working), and they reluctantly waved me on.
We got to the pharmacy and successfully bought some adult cough syrup and paracetamol (sorry anyone reading this in England) served through a sheet of glass plastic. One woman joined me at the till and nearly leapt a metre distance when she spotted Mary.
I suppose I can understand the whole children thing. They are tiny time bombs ticking away potentially full of the coronavirus while displaying no symptoms.
This is the reason we have decided, with heavy hearts, not to go back to the UK. While I think after 5 days at home with no symptoms, we are all probably fine, it would just be a bit irresponsible to then travel through multiple airports in confined metal tube with hundreds of people with a potentially silently infected toddler. She is like a little coronavirus sponge we would wipe through the airport and then wipe all over whoever we stayed with in England or Ireland.
The latter part of the day has been suffocatingly claustrophobic and also reassuringly easy.
At the end of the day this is just what we have to do to contain a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus. By doing our bit and staying at home, and not being that link in the chain gallivanting around outside undoing everyone else’s misery at home.
Also, there has been a torrent of support on social media. As anyone reading this will know, coronavirus memes, funny videos and uplifting articles coming from all around the globe.
I keep reminding myself too, that it could be SO much worse. Forget about the fact that this is jsust temporary isolation at home, where we spend all our time anyway. Life hasn’t really even changed that much. We havnet’ been called up to fight for our country. There is water in our taps and food in our cupboards (for now!). We are relatively healthy and completely safe. There are millions of people around the world who would probably love to be in our situation right now.
Women (and men) in abusive relationships are now locked in with their violent partner.
Couples in the throes of a horrible divorce are now stuck together for weeks, maybe months.
Flatmates who have just moved in for the first time and realize they absolutely hate living together, are now in each other’s pockets.
Families with insomniac babies who can only be calmed down through a drive in the car or a walk in the stroller are now confined to one space.
Parents of toddlers are trying to put out a million tiny fires all day (fingers hovering towards plug sockets, glasses of orange juice tipped over laptops, 2,500 unsuitable objects fished out of mouths every day.
In the fleeting five minutes respite we cast a glance at the articles being circulated on “How to Cope in Quarantine”. “Why not use the time to start a home business, or write a book?”. We wipe playdoh off our foreheads and go back into the fro.
It could be worse. It will be worse if we don’t squash the ants in our pants and flood the streets high fiving strangers.
It is going to be a tough few weeks but in the grand scheme of things, we are lucky to be alive and in a first-world city where the shops are still relatively full.
I am going to stop my whining. I don’t quite have enough free time to write a
Pulitzer prize winning novel or do an evening course in Business Management,
but I can certainly try rattle out some light-hearted anecdotes in the evenings.
I will keep you posted!