How ‘not’ to relax lockdown

How is your bubble? Have you been living in harmonious, familial bliss for ten weeks? Has it been a period of growth and self-reflection? Are you cocooned in your covid-bound chrysalis waiting to emerge a kinder, more thoughtful individual?

Having taken a lot of life for granted, I will most certainly be far more gracious and grateful as I burst from the confines of Coronavirus. But this week I’ve learned that some just aren’t ready for their gradual release back in to society – or at the very least aren’t prepared to let mummy out of their sight.

As of Monday 1st June 2020, lockdown was further eased, allowing groups of 6 people to meet, whilst of course adhering to social distancing regulations. On the Saturday prior to this, I made the decision to capitalise on the guidelines that allowed me to meet with my best friend, just the two of us, in a field, on picnic blankets, two metres apart. Here a can of worms was truly opened…

To put the worms in context, Harry has always been really fairly good at being separated from the maternal bosom! From fifteen months old, he has attended nursery for one day a week. Other than a few wobbly weeks, he mostly waved me a cheery goodbye and ushered me out the door so he could raise hell with his buddies. I’ve been lucky that he’s always happily gone to other people, even adopting himself a secondary family in the village for if he gets fed up with Chris and I!

To say I was excited to catch up was an understatement. I’d not seen Emma for four months. I was confident that a few hours out of the house, a few hours of adult conversation, a few hours of no demands on me would pass by without a hitch and restore a little bit of me.

Emma pulled up outside the house and I almost had those flutters of first date. This was it. One on one time with someone whose pants I didn’t have to wash. A conversation with someone who didn’t want to bemoan their lack of golf. Close proximity to another human that didn’t involve a nappy change.

Aunty Emma is Harry’s girl crush. He utterly adores her and giggles resound every time they spend time together. That’s why I thought it only proper that he get to say hello to her and show off his mad scooting skills. As she unpacked her picnic blanket from the car, Harry unleashed some crazy scooter tricks, monitored by Daddy and to rapturous appreciation from his lady love.

As he scooted up the hill to give a greater gradient, I suggested we make our escape. With a whimsical wave, we tottered off round the corner, two metres apart, and headed for the field and sweet freedom!

For a glorious hour, we caught up on our non-eventful, non-exotic and non-dramatic lives. It was joyous to not be negotiating the fifteenth snack of the day or asking “what do you want for dinner” like some kind of automaton. The sun was beating down. However inappropriate just off a public footpath, the bikinis were out and in that moment lockdown seemed far from our lives.

And then I checked my phone, which had been on silent.

The accompanying message read, “I want mummy. Starting to run out of gas.

The blissful bubble of liberty burst with aplomb. Any mum will know, you can’t relax when you know your offspring are melting down. It gets you, right in your core. But what did he want me to do? Sprint back home to relieve him? Sing sweet lullabies down the landline?

Christopher has form for making calls when things are not going well on dad duty. Conversely, even with the toughest of tantrums I just get through it. Which is lucky for him. Especially now the golf courses are open once more and he gets to escape to the range two evenings and play two rounds at the weekend. Don’t you worry – I’m banking all of this and will reap the reward at some point in the future.

To his credit, all he wanted was advice about what else to try – Harry was inconsolable and any chances of him napping for his standard two hours had been blown out of the water much to Christopher’s dismay. My suggestions: ice cream, tickles, water spraying, TV and… TV. At no point did I suggest FaceTime but that was the course of action that was taken.

All this time, Emma was patiently waiting it out, waiting for the death knell on our afternoon of adulting. From our vantage point at the top of the hill, overlooking the tranquil village below, rang out the guttural tones of a Facetiming Wrigglet, wailing “come back Mummmmmyyyyyyy!” No, go on Harry, wrench on those heart strings just a little harder – you haven’t quite pulled them from my chest cavity there.

To be fair, I don’t think it was my absence that had caused the hour and a half of distress. I think it was more a case of severe FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). It seems toddlers are not immune to the virulent strain of social ostracising normally faced by adults in relations to missed nights out.

I was not prepared to cut short our picnic, particularly as I’d not yet cracked open my ‘gin in a tin.’ My suggestion was to drive round to the bottom of the hill with the banshee child and walk up to join us; this suggestion was duly followed. I tried to squeeze in twenty minutes of child-free chatter and get myself back to that sense of escapism but its like when the lights come on at the end of the club night. You know it’s all over. Time to go home.

As ever, the force of fun that is Aunty Emma came in to full effect as little man joined us with a slightly withered Daddy in tow. She spent the next twenty minutes racing him up and down the hill to his utter delight. Yes – he was the centre of all attention, the apple of our collective eyes once again. We all gave a collective sob as he tried to give her a massive cuddle and once again cursed COVID19 for barring contact and breaking up a toddler’s first love.

Picnic packed up, we all traipsed back down the hill towards home. Plan was for Daddy to drive the mini dictator home and for us to ‘race’ them back. By the time we had meandered our way homeward, he was out for the count on the sofa. I said a fond farewell to my freedom and a socially distanced goodbye to my lovely friend and then snuggled in with him. He woke crying out for me. It served to reinforce how much isolation has impacted on his little life.

Reflecting back on the situation, I really could’ve handled it better. As snakey as it sounds, sneaking off would have been a less brutal method. He could have had a more gradual realisation that mummy was not there, that may well have got him through to nap time. A discussion about the fact mummy was going to meet Aunty Emma, whilst Harry had lots of fun with Daddy would’ve been a gentler approach. But we live and learn. Any future time out for me will have to be managed with more sensitivity for sure.

I am convinced that the most effective strategy in the future will be to tell Harry that “mummy is going to play golf.” That night, as he wouldn’t let me out of his sight or his grasp, Daddy left. He went off to the the golf course for some glorious solo time.

Not an eye was blinked nor a tear shed.

There may have been a little internal fist bump that I am clearly the favourite again though!

Are there any issues you are aware of that are coming from lockdown? Have you had any problems with separation anxiety and how did you deal with them? Is there anything you are nervous about when lockdown is further lifted? Drop me a comment!

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