With lockdown in place since March, our travels and adventures have been drastically cut short. I’m busy writing about past adventures, as there’s so much to catch up on. But this time has been equally adventure filled, just in a very different way.
Like many other people, February half term was filled with adventures. We live for our half terms and holidays and lists of ‘To do’s’ are made well in advance. Half term was spent mostly in the beautiful city of Edinburgh – part of William’s birthday present. But we also had time to go to our beloved Hampton Court Palace, a shopping trip and a day in London. We boarded a crowded train to Edinburgh – full of hundreds of happy people travelling the country – chatting, laughing, walking up and down the carriages.
We befriended a little girl and her mum and sat chatting, sharing a colouring book and pencils. We stood in crowded train stations waiting for announcements for our next train. In Edinburgh, we sat in busy restaurants, playing UNO, writing stories and laughing. We visited Mary Kings Close, and sat shoulder to shoulder with people from all over the world, hearing ghost stories from the past in darkened rooms by candlelight.
Little did we know that in exactly one months’ time, on Monday March 23rd, our world would shrink to lockdown.
From the moment, William was born, we have been exploring. When I’m not working, there is rarely a full day spent at home. We are somewhere, for at least part of it. We have what we call – ‘Mummy William Adventures’ and he has always said that we are adventurers, exploring the world together.
But overnight, his world shrank to the size of our house and garden. As an avid historian, and writer I wanted to document this time. It was to be an event that will be studied for years to come. Every day I’ve done a collage of the days activities and I wanted to document, Williams experiences as a child during this time through photos and videos. Thinking about my own experiences of personal diaries and photos when I’m doing research, I am always so grateful for anyone that had the foresight to record every day life for my to find over a century later. We are just normal people, trying to get through this time as best we can, in a world which has not been known to any of us before.
In a world where he was so used to looking forward to holiday explorations, weekend adventure days and days out, play dates with his friends and seeing family. Suddenly, this was all snatched from him in a blink of an eye. One day we could explore, the next we couldn’t and none of us knew how long this would last. None of us still know how long this will last and for how long our lives will be affected for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
Children can be very resilient to change, it can also affect them in so many ways – positive and negative.
We had so much planned for this year. The Easter holidays were already booked full of adventures – a week in Devon, day trips to Hampton Court, Arundel Castle, Amberley Museum, West Wittering, a theatre trip to London, a weekend on the Isle of Wight with friends….then there was a week in the Isle of Wight for May half term and then we had a week planned in Jersey and Guernsey, and our usual time down in Cornwall in the summer months. William had been telling people about our trips for months. He was so excited. And it has all gone in the blink of an eye. Its hard enough as an adult to miss these things, when you’ve been looking forward to them but perhaps harder for a child.
He’s been very philosophical about lockdown – or this ‘whole damn thing’ – as he calls it. There’s been good days and bad days – days where he disappears into his imagination to create the most amazing stories, drawings and characters. There have been days where he talks non stop for 5 hours creating new countries, incredible worlds and takes photographs of everything he sees. Days when he’s been sad and angry, and asking hundreds of questions about COVID-19. Days where he’s been furious that he can’t go to the beach, and days when he’s spent hours in the paddling pool happily covering us in water, throwing his head back with tears of laughter running down his face.
But despite the tears, I have been amazed at how strong and resilient he can be. He has made fortresses out of blankets and chairs, he’s invented Quidditch tournaments, re-enacted famous Battles in minute detail, painted and drawn so many pictures, practised the piano and his singing for an hour at a time, poured over books, read stories, made lego, completed puzzles that have been gathering dust, made clay models, designed cards and bookmarks, written poetry, photographed wildlife, dug and planted his own patch on the allotment, learnt about growing food and plants, he’s set up the most detailed Playmobil scenes I’ve ever seen across the whole house with different rooms forming different islands or empires – with such minute detail that it’s almost film like quality.
He’s been learning to use my digital camera, he’s learnt to ride his bike without stabilisers, he’s made percussion instruments to play outside for the Thursday night clap, he’s become a demon at swing ball, he writes plays, he’s developed a passion for cooking, makes up songs, can name a lot of plants in our garden now as well as doing home schooling with all the fun projects his school have set him (Apart from maths!). He has done his tap and musical theatre lessons via zoom and chatted to his friends on Facetime. He asks questions about the world endlessly and is always searching for new ideas, he sits patiently watching wildlife to get a good photograph, he has new ideas all the time, he’s worked towards challenge badges with Pawprint Badges and he’s played cricket and football in the park behind our house. He walked 50 miles in May and we’re working towards more in June for the Race At Your Pace badges.
We’ve had the chance to watch a family of foxes in our garden grow up and play every day, and spend time just sitting with squirrels and baby geese, watching wild rabbits play and enjoy wildlife just come and sit with us. He’s found feathers and insects, searched for names of new flowers in books, created a lockdown scrapbook and written poetry.
We’re also very fortunate to have an allotment, which has been a great place to escape too and felt like a real change of scenery on weeks where we had been in the house the whole week. He’s learnt about growing vegetables and realised how much effort is needed to grow your own food. He’s found frogs and toads, rare caterpillars, butterflies and seen a blackbirds nest full of eggs.
Our house has been transformed into WW1 trenches, a Chicken farm from Fantastic Mr Fox, The Battle of Hastings, secret tunnels, Hogwarts and medieval castles. We’ve slept in a different camp in almost every room in the house – our house is a total mess, but I don’t actually care because he is happy and we are happy.
Now we can get in the car and drive for a walk, it has opened up his world a little more and he’s very happy to now be able to ride his bike around Bushy Park and run along the river at Runnymede. We’ve started to explore walks we never knew and last weekend was started to walk along the Pilgrims Way and it felt so good to be a bit more free and be able to run through fields and see space again.
Emotions have been amplified…enormously…probably for all of us. This is a greater thing that the majority of us have ever lived through and none of us expected it. But the human spirit is strong, and we will find a way to get through – survival instincts kick in. It feels a lot longer than 3 months, it feels like a year and I am sure in Williams head, it feels like forever, as everything does as a child.
It has been wonderful spending time together, and let’s face it we are probably unlikely to have the time together again. By the time he goes back to school in September, he will have been away from school for nearly 6 months. He has missed his friends, but I have no doubt that during that time, he will have learnt so much and grown so much as a person and one day he will tell his grandchildren about what life was like in lockdown as a 6 year old.