Entertaining a little human during lockdown is my new job. I work from home as a copywriter, and I’m also a part time SEN key worker at a local school, so I’m a bit busy with that. But nothing fills my days more than my nutty little toddler and his many daily discoveries. It’s been an opportunity to see the world through his eyes. I had to ask myself, what would I want to do if I was stuck mostly indoors with just my parents for company? Probably kick and scream to be fair (which might explain a few pre-bed meltdowns of late – him, not me). But, aside from that, I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to learn how to be a child again.
Our little boy has and always will be our rainbow in these dark times. He came into our lives as a rainbow baby and thankfully he still shines bright. But, how to fill the days for an overactive almost two-year-old? Well, at first I was furiously googling ‘toddler ideas’ for play. Most of these required an arsenal of art and craft supplies – all of which are now either sold out or overpriced on Amazon (other non tax evading suppliers are available) – so that was out. I’ve managed to lose any finger-paints we did have in our seriously under ‘Marie Kondo-ed’ home (she would pass out if she saw our book shelves). So, what about the recycling box? Hang on, doesn’t everything have Covid on it now? Oh man. Most of that has gone in the outside blue bin then.
So what does that leave us with? Nature. It’s our biggest playground after all. And I have to say, this has been the saving grace in a truly horrible situation. Our son has never played more in our garden or the outdoors as much as he does now. He is old enough to have a sense of something not being right. He can clearly tell that he’s not allowed to go and see all his favourite people as usual. If we ever do get in the car now, he instantly asks “Naani’s house? Daadi’s house?” itching to see one of his grandmothers. It breaks our heart to disappoint him. But, the light at the end of the tunnel is the giant fields/wood that we luckily have at the end of our road, where we try to take him as much as the weather permits. Once he’s out, he’s unstoppable. He would play there all day if we let him. And I realised I’d been slightly holding him back from exploring until now. It’s always such an effort as a parent to take kids outdoors – innumerable changes of clothes, endless shoe options, ask which outfit won’t get destroyed and which one can handle a thick layer of mud/curious brown stains on it forever more – but my goodness, I need to get over myself because I finally see that this is where he belongs.
The lockdown has brought nothing but tragedy and limitations to so many. I am keenly aware at just how fortunate we are to have a roof over our heads. To have food in our stomachs and somewhere to self-isolate if we really needed to. So many have not been afforded that option and that’s just not acceptable. And so, as I look at my incredibly messy home, at my mud-caked toddler, and I say a silent prayer of thanks. Thanks for what we do have rather than what we don’t.
This too shall pass. Of course, it will never be the same again, and to be honest it shouldn’t. Too many lives have been lost to let us just keep calm and carry on. We didn’t know what we had till it was put on hold. But, thankfully all is not yet gone. So, for now, as simple as it is – I’ll strap on my son’s waterproofs and get him out in the back yard. It keeps us going each day. Then, hopefully one day soon he will be out there with the rest of our families. Altogether, once more.
We unleashed this little man on the outdoors, and somehow, I don’t think he’s ever going to look back.