Image: A middle way in Badock’s Wood, Corsham, 2020. Photograph by Sheona Beaumont
(For those with children going back to school after 6 months at home)
Maybe it’s not a time for writing. Maybe the coalescing of junctioned thoughts gives too much structure to the wisps of ideas. They haven’t been written for so long anyway. The traipsing catalogue of lockdown lent a plan of Things To Get Done around the kids. A slowly circling pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, where each half-blinded attempt lends to ridicule and futility their hope. The beautifully crafted timetable for home-schooling lasted a week. The game-playing on tablets assumed an inverse proportion. Chores became battlegrounds around a finite number of marbles. Material stuff continually moved around the house. The dog got stressed. You want to know what lockdown was like? PARENTS COULDN’T NAIL ANYTHING. The short-circuit in all and every circumstance to a child’s immediate desire: their hunger, their tiredness, the shouting each other up and down, their right to self, their pure entitlement. The hijacking thereby of any prolonged moment of concentration, reflection, consideration – no chance to stare at the world because the world is beyond the shores of your island and doesn’t hear your shouting. The relationship bridge to your partner has weathered some storms, but this time, the stasis necessary for the kids’ laws of motion has translated into brittleness. Being in the business of denied thought, denied conversation, denied chancing your arm, and everything stifles and stalls. Our job has been silence, silenced to each other because you can’t pay attention to the kids if you’re talking.
Maybe it is a time for writing. Maybe the considered attempt to join up memories fills out the picture of lives lived. The photos were taken throughout anyway. The traipsing catalogue of lockdown lent a plan of Things to Enjoy Doing with the kids. A whirlwind cacophony of race-you-to-the-moon-and-back, where the abandon of play lends to ridicule and futility their hope. The timetable included Joe Wicks giving us Fancy Dress Friday for carpet-room workouts. The sunshine assumed a glorious proportion of fields, treehouses, rivers, cow parsley, frogs, Easter gardens and radishes. Chores became shared. Material stuff didn’t matter and we spent less. The dog got loved. You want to know what lockdown was like? PARENTS COULD EXPERIENCE EVERYTHING. The short-circuit in all and every circumstance to a child’s perspective of now: their excitement, their openness, their commitment, their pure youth. The liberation thereby into receiving everything as a gift rather than an interruption – a chance to stare at the immediate, colourful presence of the world right in front of you. The relationship bridge to your partner has weathered some storms, and this time, the stasis necessary for the kids’ laws of motion has translated into deeper equality. Being in the business of shared responsibility, shared loves, shared creativity, and everything expands and inspires. Our job has been steadiness, steadiness to each other because you can’t pay attention to the kids if you’re trying to get one up on your life.