the new d.i.y.
Ok, we're here. In our houses, just about ready to murder our nearest and dearest. But what can we learn from this crisis, and how do we keep positive?
We're...on the run from a killer virus. This is not a Hollywood thriller starring Ice T, Coco and a plane full of snakes.
Lets Get Real
I'm not going to lie. Because we all know the real facts here, and the truth is, they ain't good. We're on lockdown. On the run from a killer virus, and this is not, I repeat not, the plot of some Hollywood thriller starring Ice T, Coco, and a plane full of snakes. Its our lives. Our real, actual, complicated, non-glossy, non-Hollywood lives. One that involves trying to juggle working, with home schooling, and trying not to kill your husband of 10 years for forgetting to put on the dishwasher.
Lets put a known racist on the Inquiry Panel for that!
Lockdown & Loaded
Suddenly, I'm faced with the very real fact, that my work is drying up. That all my plans for the future, aren't simply on hold, but might be on lockdown forever. And this, was supposed to be the good year! The year that we all moved on from the nightmare that was 2019, when in actual fact, the election of a right wing, Boris-Johnson-led-Tory-government, now seems like a pleasant, golden-edged dream. I mean obviously, they've screwed it all up - but his smug fat face was ever so slightly less offensive when he was blathering on about Brexit and Getting Things Done, than it is now, ashen faced and spouting daily death rates in hospitals and care homes whilst telling us we need to Wrestle The Mugging Virus To The Ground - not that he's actually done any of that, but don't get me started on Johnson's ICU holiday/ paternity leave debacle - never has a man done so little, when faced with so much. And no I don't feel sorry for him because he almost died. I feel sorry for the actual, people who died; many of whom were disproportionately BAME, but hey, lets put a known racist on the Inquiry Panel for that!
How do we change, how do we live, how do we adapt, to a world where we aren't allowed to be with each other?
2022 Isn't Around The Corner
The thing is, life as we know it, has changed. Is, changing. And we've been told to adapt to a new normal. And 5.5 weeks in, that fact isn't getting any easier to take. I want to believe that a vaccination, or a miracle treatment, is somehow round the corner, but the likelihood is, that corner is somewhere around 2022. How do we change, how do we live, how do we adapt, to a world where we aren't allowed to be with each other?
A New Kind Of DIY
What I'm learning is, a new kind of do-it-yourself. Which includes the millions of home DIY projects that I should have done several years ago - but also includes stuff like Genuinely Doing Things For Yourself. Like so many people I know, I outsource my life to other people. Things like educating my kids, picking them up from school, making their dinner, giving them a bath - cleaning my house, cutting my hair, plucking my eyebrows, doing my nails, hemming my jeans. The list goes on and on, and its kind of ridiculous. Because the more I look at this list, the more I realise there are so many things, I could and should, be doing myself.
There are so many things, I could and should, be doing myself.
Teachers, Should All Be Millionaires
You know what, I'm a crap teacher, and now we're all doing it, we know for a fact, teachers should be paid at least a million pounds a year. I'm not claiming I should be trusted with my children's academic needs - but last week, I taught Small to read. I sat with him, while he wrote (against every fibre of his being's desire) a sentence. And the sense of satisfaction that gave me, was intense. I felt involved. I understood my kid, and what he could do and not do, and why, and how I could help him, in a way I don't think I ever have before. And then there's Big. Who I realise at 9, knows more about English and Maths than I will probably ever know in my lifetime. And who I made watch Hocus Pocus with Bette Middler, and remarked she was obviously dressed to imitate Queen Elizabeth I. What?? How did I not realise this before?
I don't enjoy cleaning toilets (it's a horror in a house of 3 boys who don't lift the toilet seat) but when we clean the house together as a family every other Saturday, I'm teaching my kids the value of hard work.
Because I Can, Can, Can
Maybe I'm just a crap parent. And the rest of you smugoids are sat with your kids every day, so terribly aware of what they can and can't do, attuned to their needs and ready to provide. But I think for most of us, we hope for the best. We get involved when we have to, but we just let them navigate and learn, the way we did, through trial and error, mostly alone. And in a weird way, I'm enjoying doing things by myself again, not least because its saving me some much needed money from my ever dwindling pocket - but also, because its reminding me, I can. I don't enjoy cleaning toilets (it's a horror in a house of 3 boys who don't lift the toilet seat) but when we clean the house together, as a family, every other Saturday, I'm teaching my kids the value of hard work. They're neater and tidier as a result, they think about consequences, they consider their actions. So on second thoughts, maybe I'm not so bad at this teaching stuff, after all.
The new normal, is learning to do things for ourselves again.
The New Normal
The point is, I can pluck my own eyebrows. And I've realised I still do. When a neighbour commented I was looking 'a bit glamorous' for a walk in the woods the other day, I realised, I dress for myself, not because I'm seeing anyone, or not seeing anyone, I do it for me. Because I like it, because I believe, my opinion counts. And thats a good thing. Knowing you do stuff for yourself, not because society tells you its what other people expect. And its fine if you don't want to pluck your eyebrows, or brush your hair, or wear anything other than tracksuit bottoms. You do, you. But whatever we do, right now, we have do it for ourselves. And maybe thats teaching us as much about ourselves and who we are, as Google Classroom, is apparently teaching my kids. The new normal, is learning to do things for ourselves again.
And that, ain't bad.