We took one small step for my toddler last week. And a giant leap towards normality.
Harry had a play date.
It was with mixed feelings that we walked the five minutes down the road to hang out with his best buddy. I was excited for him to have stimulation other than me or the television, ok, mostly the television. But I was nervous too. Not so much of the invisible enemy that is Covid but of how he and his buddy would react to each other after their enforced separation.
Pre-lockdown we were just getting to the point where a budding little friendship had been formed. The nursery staff would sigh and cover their ears as Harry and Spencer unleashed their screams and merry hell on their classroom. Having known each other from birth, thanks to our clan of five NCT babies and mummas, Fridays allowed them freedom from over-zealous face wiping and the watchful eyes of their mothers. It was here their bromance blossomed!
In the early days of lockdown we tried to foster the growing flame of their friendship but a FaceTime fell flat on its face as Harry took twenty minutes to stop sobbing after he had to say goodbye. I fear it was more the realisation that he wouldn’t get to play on Spencer’s ride-on tractor any time soon – lockdown suddenly got real.
Meeting up was a tricky decision. As a family we have had to treat Harry’s dad as vulnerable according to advice. We have avoided seeing friends where possible for the last 115 days. Seeing family has been impossible thanks to distance. We have kept any catch-ups to a minimum, following all the guidance on social distancing since regulations were eased. We have braved a couple of meetings with buggy-bound bubbas where the hands-on approach of snotty, touchy-feels toddlers was not a concern. But how long could we leave it before the lack of social interaction begins to stunt his development?
I am confident in the flexibility and resilience of little people; I believe that this strange COVID vortex we have been sucked in to will not do them lasting damage. For all of the negatives: lack of outside stimulation, lack of social interaction and complete attachment or dependence on parents – there are positives that balance this out. When else would Harry have had such an opportunity to interact with both of us? When else would he have had an hour and half of fun with daddy in the morning whilst mummy gets to clear her head on a run, or thanks to sciatica: a walk? When else would he have had such adventures within the four walls of our home and have crafted everything from castles to the Tickle monster?
With a deep breath we chose to re-enter the world of play dates, to burst our bubble if only for an hour or so.
So how did it go? I’d already written off the principle of social distancing before we even got to our friend’s garden. It wasn’t going to happen so handwashing was a stipulation on our return home.
It warmed my heart. To see the pair of them racing up and down the garden and laughing. To see them sharing. To see smiles that were a result of someone else, other than me…. They hadn’t forgotten how to be friends. They remembered how to interact. This social life business was just like riding a bike!
It allowed me for one glorious hour to forget that we are living the most unprecedented period of history. I was able to put aside my worries and isolation. I was able to chat whilst drinking a hot coffee made for me by someone else (thank you so much Rachel).
And Harry was able to just have fun – as well as a go on the much coveted ride-on tractor.
So whilst we are not yet fully integrated in to society and are still comfortable in our bubble, it’s nice to be reassured that some kind of normal is possible and not too distant a dream.
Have you begun socialising your little people again? Have you seen any changes or had any issues to surmount. Where do you lie on the comfort scale if 1 is ‘lock us away’ and 10 is ‘let’s have a pool party!’