Do you ever get the feeling that ‘the man upstairs’ is having a jolly good laugh at you? Or that, instead of sailing through the day’s challenges with consummate skill, you have somehow managed to chalk up another ‘epic fail’ in this thing that we refer to as the ‘rich tapestry of life’?
Like so many people, I often go to bed feeling that I haven’t handled things as well as I would have liked, promising fervently to myself that I will do better tomorrow. Guilt (it would seem) is a privilege reserved for over-stretched parents struggling (and inevitably failing) to be something to everyone. However, New Year’s Eve 2019 sticks out in my memory as being one of those rare occasions when things had gone surprisingly well…
The day itself had passed without incident (i.e. the boys had managed to refrain from maiming each other) and the evening was one of high spirits, optimism, and good cheer. Ok, Ok, I might have been tucked up in bed with a cocoa chaser shortly before 11.30pm – but let’s be honest; none of us are as young as we were…
You get the gist though – 2020 was meant to be a fantastic year all round.
But even before Covid-19 reared its ugly head, I had a feeling that this was not going to be a chart topper of a year.
2020 began with a dismal January (aren’t they always?!) and as February crawled reluctantly into view, I was struck by a deep sense of foreboding. The boys were seemingly hell-bent upon vying for my attention at all costs (sibling rivalry being very much alive and well, chez Hall); there was an inspection looming at work; and my examining work was on the verge of going paperless – a truly terrifying prospect for a self-professed technophobe like me!
With characteristic tenacity (and one or two bouts of slightly unhinged ranting) I managed to gradually bend the boys to my will. The inspection came and went relatively painlessly – with resounding endorsements that we were, in fact, doing a good job. The new examining software arrived and, after two fairly gruelling days of CPD, I dared to believe that I was, in fact, not as incompetent as I had first thought. Whoop, whoop!
Cue half term (and some much-needed R & R) followed by a period of normality and the opportunity to test out these newfound technological ‘skills’ of mine. Surely, things were set fair…
But ‘Covid’ had other ideas…
The prospect of teaching without an inspection,
A rare opportunity for private reflection.
Letting the children evolve and develop,
Allowing them time for their dreams to envelop
Their daily pursuit of excitement and fun,
Had sprung back to life; it had finally begun.
But then came the briefings from Boris and friends
“This virus from China is showing no end.
We need you to distance, stay home and save lives”,
Cue the mad rush for basic supplies…
“Schools need to close, you should all work from home,
But keyworkers have our permission to roam”.
Never before had parents felt so tested,
“Teachers have it easy”, they’d previously protested
But now they could see just how much was involved,
Two hours in, and a fading resolve
To get little Charlotte to practise her sums,
Whilst Joshua argued and twiddled his thumbs.
Bike rides and baking all came to the fore,
Countless disruptions on Zoom, Skype and more,
Exams were now cancelled, bright futures on hold,
Jobs were to suffer; the virus grew bold.
No time for trialling the examining app,
Face to face teaching now (sadly) ‘a wrap’.
But amidst all the sadness, restrictions, and fear,
Some positive elements began to appear.
Parents took time to reflect and respond
To children who needed them, craving that bond.
Neighbours enquired of each other more freely,
A much nicer world (if we’re honest) really.
Pollution diminished, our skies morphing blue,
Roads less congested; used by so few.
A sense of community slowly reviving,
Stories of encouragement, patients surviving
This silent enemy, the source of such fear,
Let’s pray we can vanquish it early next year.