And so as the schools closed their doors yesterday and shops, pubs, gyms and restaurants are counting up their final day’s takings… we find ourselves stumbling into a new normal. Falling, tripping, diving into the unknown. Because what is going to happen next? Where will isolation take us, if not to loneliness, fear and a future so bleak we can’t see how any light will ever flicker again. We’re at a fork in the road. We have a choice now. We can either do this, do it well, and do it once. Or we can stumble, flounder and do it again, again, again. The messages have been clear all along and now I know it’s more important than ever to get it together. Be together. Think as a collective. Because if we don’t, we’re truly alone.
I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know any better than anyone else. I’m waking early, with too many thoughts flying around in my head. Too much to do and suddenly too much time to do it in. Where are the deadlines, the routines we must follow and the order that defines our lives? If this is the new normal, then I have to work hard to make it normal.
For now, we’re spending lots of time outdoors. We’re lucky enough to have a garden, and access to lots of wide open spaces, woodland and streams on our doorstep. We don’t need to see anyone else when we venture outside, and we know to keep our distance if we do. The odd dog walker here and there, but mostly we’ve got this space to ourselves for now. We’re journalling. We’re drawing. We’re reading. For now, the home learning packs can wait. Our new normal is no school, and that is going to take some getting used to.
So to my children I want to make a promise. That this new normal will become normal. There will be boredom, there will be frustration. There will be sadness and joy, excitement and tedium. There will be time to play and time to work. I will focus my energy on making sure you get to carry on your childhood.
To Eva, your GCSEs are around the corner and how lucky we are that you haven’t missed your chance as so many have this year. You will get your chance to have your shirt signed and say goodbye and sit those exams. You will.
To Luka, year 6 awaits you and I will get you ready for your final year in primary school. Keep reading, keep drawing, keep going.
To Bella, oh how you’ve flourished this year. I’ll make sure those wings continue to open so that you can learn to fly. Keep dancing, keep reading, keep dreaming.
And to Elsie. Your first year in school has been terminated so abruptly and I’m acutely aware that you won’t get the same start in education as the others. I know that being left handed means you struggle to write and you find it frustrating, but you’ve been making such great progress. For now, my sadness at the missed firsts has to be put aside. We’ll recreate a sport’s day at home. We’ll dig out old summer dresses to wear with socks. We’ll put on our own class assembly, school trips and all the other things you were looking forward to claiming for yourself at last. I will help you to read, write, count and develop the same love of learning that your siblings have. Keep smiling, keep singing, keep being you.
This is our new normal and we may be stumbling, falling and weeping- but we’re taking it on none-the-less.