Carnegie Education

The trials and tribulations of 'Social Distancing'

Having lost my mother to terminal cancer in 2013 the hardest part of Covid-19 is the thought of now losing my 82 year-old father to the virus. The contemplation of what might be is so intense and the uncontrollable and sometimes erratic emotions as a result, should not be underestimated or misunderstood.
An empty terraced street, lined with parked cars.
Today, 12 weeks since lockdown, I visited my family for the first time since my son’s 12th birthday in February. It was well worth the annual leave and the hour drive down the M1. My sister, niece, dad, who is fondly referred to by all as ‘Grumpy Grandad’, my son and I managed a short walk. Well that was the intention, we became a bit lost and a four mile route swiftly became a seven mile hike! I was not in charge and can smugly say that my sister found herself, without the geography degree, simply ‘geographically embarrassed’ at times! But in reality, and despite the jibes, it simply added to the fun of an adventurous day out.

For our kids, who are both only children, the impact of lockdown has been immense. They have had no siblings to bounce off, in a positive or negative way. They are demanding of their parents, who are both full-time working mums and have conducted themselves for most of the time in a normal, emotional, underwhelmed and overwhelmed manner. With moods swinging dependant on anything irrational, incomprehensible, ungrounded and therefore completely normal! 

We have witnessed hugs, tantrums, proficiency, withdrawal, shouting, calmness, passion, anger, lack of confidence, sensibility, peer pressure and a raft of other emotions. Dependant on our individual workloads, sometimes managed well and at other times perhaps not managed so well! 

Today they found their usual sanctuary, and trust, in each other. Their camaraderie is truly amazing and strangely comforting, I feel as a parent it is something that I have yet to fully achieve with him. I found it hard to tear them apart and to commence the journey back home when our normal routine would have been a bottle of wine or two and an overnight stay.

On my way home, with a sleeping navigator, my heart went out to all of you who have struggled through this unprecedented situation and have a raft of difficult family issues to contend with, it is not easy. You are brave, diligent, hard-working, resilient, and beyond all quite simply normal, so please don’t forget that. So, while some are enjoying aspects of lockdown, others are struggling, perhaps just in different ways. It is "OK" to struggle, so remember be kind to yourselves.

For me, with a father who does not have the internet, a computer or a modern mobile phone, today has been one of the most humbling, emotional, yet absolutely enjoyable days of lockdown so far. I also have to admit I did break the lockdown rules to cut my father’s hair, if only to avoid him at 82 looking like the mad professor from ‘Back to the Future’, I did however wash my hands thoroughly afterwards!

Family are everything, lest we forget.