Day 44: Counting the days

Wednesday, 29th April

The days are going by strangely fast. We are all eager for the lockdown to end. The children want to see their friends again. Reclaim their little lives back. My 8-year old son in particular declares on a daily basis that he is « bored » – to which I reply « It is good to be bored ». But he’s not that interested by the activities I propose: what he wants is to play video games or call his friends on the phone. I take him out on his bike and he meets them on the square for a ride. I chat with the mothers: they, too, are ready for this to end.

My daughter is diligently calling her grandmother every day for an hour’s virtual class. This kind of distance learning works really well for her – she enjoys it and learns fast. Her grandma is a former teacher, and a very good and patient one. On Monday, I tried doing an English writing class with my kids and they were uncooperative (it is school holidays here at the moment) – it was frustrating and difficult to stay calm. I went to my room to isolate for a while. We are all growing restless and impatient.

Frustration

I would love to be able to make the most of this « enforced » time together, to chill with the kids and be super-creative. Sometimes it works, but other times there is restlessness and frustration at being forced to stay indoors with no freedom to pursue our normal routine, activities and interests – going to work or school, scouts, swimming, cinema, or just out for a drink with friends… Not to mention the growing tension between the two adults in the house, with our own issues, compounded by the enforced confinement.

The importance of being kind

I have a wonderful English friend who lives half the year in St Raphael in southern France with her husband. She is one of these incredibly kind people, who always makes you feel good about yourself. She wrote a piece about the importance of kindness, every day, to the people you love and to those who share your life. Of making the lives of those you are closest to calm in these challenging times – she is so right, and yet it is one of the hardest things to do.

De-confinement: the plan

Now, it’s like we are all waiting. Yesterday, prime minister Edouard Philippe outlined his gradual, regional deconfinement plan. It was later adopted. He is a very serious man who exposes his ideas clearly and without frills. He started out by stating that up until the last minute the government could reconsider if the conditions were not right. He called on the French people to remain cautious.

I know where he’s coming from: when I go out with the kids in our neighbourhood every afternoon, we are far from alone. The square this evening was busy with parents and kids. People are finding it hard to stick to the rules as the date approaches, and yet this is when we should be most vigilant if we don’t want to jeopardise all the efforts of the past seven weeks. Kids, especially, find it hard to keep a distance from their friends.

Hopefully, if things go as planned, my kids will be going back to school on May 12th. But it will not be an obligation and it will be up to each family to decide. Class sizes will be reduced to around half-size. It is not yet clear how they will achieve this – we will be informed closer to the date. My children are very keen to go back to school and especially to see their friends again.

I am keen to be able to leave my house without a form and to go to the countryside for a big walk. For the swimming, I’ll have to wait a while. The prime minister explained that de-confinement will occur in three-week stages, that we will be asked to stay within our regions in the beginning (within a 100 km radius) and that no beaches will be re-opened until early June. Il va falloir prendre notre mal en patience!

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