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    Level Two Love


    This will be my last post for the COVID-19 diary I’ve been keeping over lockdown, and I’m looking forward to resuming my usual blogging ways.

    New Zealand rejoiced as we moved to Level Two on Thursday. We are that much closer to ‘normality’.

    We surprise our parents with a quick visit to Whanganui, arriving unannounced in the evening.

    There are many, many hugs. The grandparents have been totally desperate to hug Miss E and Master D; lockdown has been hard for them. My MiL has found it particularly hard as she is on her own. Physical touch is her love language and the lack of hugs got her down as the weeks went on. Fortunately she was able to break her bubble in Level Three and hang out with her bestie, but friend-hugs aren’t quite the same as the enthusiastic, leaping-into-arms hugs she got from Miss E and Master D. You are much less likely to crack a rib from a friend-hug.

    Full body-slam-grandkid hugs are back!
    Oma gets put to work on the swing

    We stay with friends who have lots of space for us. They have children of a similar age to ours, and they are thrilled to have friends to play with again. Because their location is not somewhere they can walk safely around the neighbourhood, their children haven’t left their property the entire time over lockdown – although they are on a lifestyle block with tons of room to play.

    Because our friends + family would be more than 10, we are unable to celebrate all together. We have to spend the day staggering our time so that everyone gets an equal share of our time. Master D demands to know why we can’t stay for ‘twelve nights’. He is enjoying being back with his friend Z.

    But we have online church to get back to, school to get ready for, a new job to prepare for, and we must head back to Wellington.

    The trip does us all good. The change of scene is needed, the hugs are wonderful, the conversations are welcome. We come back with our tanks filled.

    The children are nervous about starting school. Parents are discouraged from coming on the the school grounds, and those who do must download a tracing app. The children have to line up on marked crosses and sanitise their hands before entering the classroom. They are told not to ‘freak out’ if they accidentally touch someone, but to go and wash their hands.

    My children come home talking about avoiding ‘moist breaths’ over their classmates. I can’t get out of them how their day was or what they talked about in class. But I do know the school was prioritising play and re-establishing connections, and I imagine COVID stories will feature for quite some time. Master D, in the meantime, comes home with serious bags under his eyes, and is already asking when he can have a day off!

    I have found my new job to be very energising – and definitely got the job thanks to my writing and blogging skills. The hours are flexible, and easily worked around the needs of my family, so I am very grateful to have it!

    Most people have no idea how difficult it is to find part-time work that is actually family-friendly. I’m serious, go check your local job search website. The majority of part-time jobs expect workers to be available to come in 24/7 (often on a casual basis), and almost always include weekend work.

    It may sound strange to you, but I’ve been saddened to read over and over again reports of workers being able to ‘reconnect’ with their children over lockdown, or for the opportunity to ‘slow down’ from the busyness of normal life. I am not bagging working parents at all(!), but surely the pandemic has highlighted how much the way in which we work and do business has to change? To stop treating workers like they don’t have family, or other commitments in their lives? Getting any work/life balance is impossible for most people – one of those things always loses out. When it takes a pandemic for workers to be able to spend quality time with their families then something is terribly wrong.

    While Level Two has reunited me with my loved ones, I am nervous of what is to come over the next few months. The recession, the job losses, the hardships. Life is not going to be ‘the same’. Nor should it be, but it is my prayer that good things will eventually emerge from this worldwide mess.

  • Uncategorized

    Welcome to Level Two!

    Will restrictions ease soon?

    We have a good morning of school work. Avoiding the daily Zoom call is working, and Master D has a much better attitude towards school. Today is Te Reo, specifically looking at colours and numbers. Rev G whips out the guitar for several rousing renditions of ‘Ma is White’, and we sing Anika Moa’s ‘Tahi, Rua, Toru, Wha’ at the top of our lungs.

    After a couple of rough days last week, it feels like we have got our groove back.

    We study the seasons and the months of the year – again, I have another song (about the months of the year) in my repertoire. Master D is over all the writing, so I set him the task of writing August, his birth month, which he does with great gusto, and reminding me of the things he would like to get for his birthday.

    I am excited for the government’s announcement at 4pm, hoping they will announce we can move into Level Two. I am so keen, I make dinner early so I don’t have to miss any of the news!

    Rev G and I sit holding hands. Seldom have we felt like we were watching historic moments, but these last few weeks have certainly felt that way.

    I worry that this time will be romanticised in the future, a bit like the Blitz. An elderly friend who was a teenager during the Blitz said it was terrifying and scarred her for life. There was no help, no support, she said there was no choice but to ‘keep calm and carry on’, but it came at a cost to mental health.

    I wonder if we will be fed a narrative of ‘that wonderful time when we were made to stay home and watch TV and play with our children’. Some people have had a marvellous time, but I hope the huge inequalities the pandemic has highlighted are not forgotten.

    A friend works at a Decile 1 school, and said the school has many families who haven’t engaged with the school AT ALL since Term 2 began, and many families who were given devices don’t know how to use them. The digital divide is real. Many seniors have also been left out, unable to navigate online shopping or video calls.

    Another friend is a single mum of three children under seven. This has been the hardest, most exhausting time of her life. All of her support systems and people were gone for a whole month.

    The only people I know who’ve had a great time are young and child-free. I don’t begrudge them, but I hope stories of the lonely, the people who have lost jobs and businesses, and the grieving are not drowned out by those who were living their ‘best life’ under lockdown.

    Jacinda takes the podium and announces that we will indeed move to Level Two on Thursday.

    Thank God.

    School will go back on May 18th (just in time for my new job!), we can travel regionally again, cafes and restaurants and malls can open up again.

    We are a bit shocked to hear that churches are not allowed to open yet. In fact, social gatherings of any kind are limited to 10. Bars are also lumped into this category. I can understand why. Churches, bars, funerals, weddings, concerts etc have been major vectors of COVID-19 transmission.

    Church is a place where people from all walks of life gather to worship, and to have fellowship. There are always vulnerable people in our midst. We sit together, sing together, hug, mingle over morning tea, lay hands on each other in prayer, take communion together. It may be a few more weeks before we can gather normally again.

    I look forward to school returning, both so I can get a break(!), but so the children can reconnect with their classmates and friends once more. Lockdown has been tough on my two extroverts.

    I’m looking forward to seeing my family, to hanging out with friends. Going to the museum; walking where ever I choose.

    And no one hoarding toilet paper.