Natalie Billing-Reeves, Liverpool-based children's author, takes us through another episode of life under lockdown with her two young children, and how her approach to parenting has had to change.
What a curious bubble we live in! As my priorities shift and ground rules stretch thin, I choose my battles more carefully. I've built a fairly efficient distraction filter and set the sensitivity way down low. I switch it on the moment my eyes perceive light.
It's bliss, in the main, but I didn't say it was foolproof. I haven't figured out how to be selective with it yet, though. So, I'm afraid, for now, at least, it's a blanket family muting.
Activities float about in a lazy sort of way. I snatch some and bat the others away, but the air is alive with swarms of biting ideas, thoughts, and worries that will not leave me be.
And so, kettles do appear in fridges, sitting proudly next to purses and earrings, and sometimes the odd teabag can be found floating on a cappuccino. People walk into rooms and have absolutely no idea how they got there or what they're there for. I find sanctuary where I can, in a toilet or a broom closet. As long as I've done my share of the home-schooling duties, the guilt doesn't bite quite as hard. Then, the sight of an iPad in my children's hands doesn't jolt so much. It seems my greatest enemy has become my bestest friend.
But, no matter how you dress it up, some things in life just don't go together. Pineapple on pizzas. Iced tea. Grapes in salads. I'm not having any of it!
And the biggest one of all, kids vs. work. Oh, jeez... oil and water are a better fit.
As soon as my laptop appears, the kid's attention monitoring device sounds. It has detected a flux in the force. Mummy's attention is not flowing their way. Torpedoes blaze, disguised as fairly innocuous questions. You know the ones. The type that inquires about the size of the universe and how many sugar grains are inside fourteen candy flosses. Hugely important agendas that have never needed or warranted discussion until this point.
A barrage of fire, weathering and eroding, until I'm a nub of a person. Diminished and discombobulated. A line of questioning the KGB would be proud of. When they tire of that tactic, they move to the arguing phase. They dreadful injustices of sibling life. The heinous acts of sabotage and selfishness they commit against each other's teddies. The hideous injuries they've incurred in the garden. Those life and death scratches that only a gay coloured plaster can fix.