As parents we normally – within reason – have the power to make our own rules. We tell our children where they can play and who they can play with. We set the menu for dinner and tell them when they can have ice cream. We have rules. But we also have flexibility. We can adapt those rules to the time and circumstances we are in.
As the last week has progressed, those rules have become less about what we as parents want for our children and the kind of parents we want to be, and more about doing what is right. For our families, for the country, and ultimately for the world.
Our parenting decisions have been governed by the news filtering in and by the daily press conferences by Borris Johnson.
For us a lot has changed. But for children their whole world feels as though it has.
As parents we are suddenly thinking about rationing favourite foods, changing how and where we play and telling them that school work is part of home life.
Our eldest adapted well from day one, but the youngest was struggling – you see in not wanting to scare him we weren’t giving him a full picture. He felt as though suddenly we were taking away everything he loves for no reason.
He was frustrated and angry.
We realised things needed to change.
So we have started explaining more. We talk about the Germs in the air being dangerous and how right now the man on the TV has said we need to play indoors and in our back gardens. We talk about keeping everyone safe, and how once the Germs are gone it will be safe to go outside and play again. We talk about what we will do for his birthday in two weeks time, now the party he was so excited about has been postponed, and how we will have the best party ever once the Germs have gone away.
You see, for our Lion, who so often finds the world challenging, we did not want to make people the ones that were scary.
We did not want to talk about staying two metres away, when he is only just starting to engage a little more. For us this needed to be an external force. Something that can’t be helped, but something that will go away.
Because one day when we get control of this virus, we will go into the world again.
One day we will watch as our children have the freedom to play with friends. One day we will drive in our cars to the beach and splash in the sea. One day our classrooms will again be filled with laughter.
And when that happens I want my boy to relish it. Not to be afraid. I want him to know that it is over, and that people are the ones who bring us joy, not something to stay away from.
We need to get through this and to keep him safe.