Back to school during the Covid-19 pandemic – a letter to Leo

Back to school during the Covid-19 pandemic – a letter to Leo

Dear Leo,

You did it! Your first day of year 3, your first day in juniors and, most unbelievably, your first day back in school after six months off. Yes, that’s right..six months. Not six weeks, six MONTHS!

Yesterday was like Christmas Eve, you were so excited, asking me all day if it was nearly bedtime as you couldn’t wait for today to arrive. I am so proud of you. I thought you might have been anxious about going back to school after so long at home, I was worried you might get upset at the school gates and not want to go in. I had no reason to worry – you smashed it!

You were up bright and early this morning, there were none of the usual grumbles over breakfast and instead of protesting, when I asked you to change into your uniform, you did it with an enthusiasm usually reserved for when I say you can play on Mario or get a biscuit out of the biscuit tin. There was a bit of a blip to our otherwise organised morning when I discovered your drop off time was twenty minutes earlier than I thought but we still all made it out of the house on time.

Standing in the socially distanced queue along the pavement outside school you were excited. Chatting away to me like it was just another day, not phased at all that you were heading into the same school building you’ve always known, only now you would have lots of new rules to learn and follow. Year 3 were called to go in and I saw your face drop, I felt your hand grip mine more tightly than before and for the first time I heard you say, “I’m a bit nervous”. We hugged, I told you it would all be fine and I walked you – probably closer than I should have – up to the gate so you could find your line. Another quick hug and off you went, off to start your year 3 adventure, finally about to be reunited with all your friends you have missed so much since the schools closed in March.

Me and Alex missed you so much today Leo. I’ve felt so lost! I won’t pretend that I haven’t been desperate for this day. It has been really difficult looking after you, Alex and Tilly over lockdown. You know I love you to infinity and beyond but parenting you all during this pandemic has been challenging. I hope looking back on this time you can remember all the fun we’ve had: picnics in the garden, watching films and eating popcorn at 10am, rejoicing when the playgrounds reopened and running around on the beach once we were allowed to venture further from home again.

I hope you forget about the more difficult times: the times I’ve shouted a bit too much because I was so stressed, the times I’ve cried through sheer exhaustion, the times we’ve had arguments and you’ve cried and screamed and we’ve not been very happy at all. I hope you forget those times but understand why they happened too. Whilst lockdown had lots of positives – I loved not having to rush you around everywhere and just enjoying your company – there were some negatives too. Mummy’s and Daddy’s are supeheroes (of course we are!) but even Batman likes to chill out in solitude in the Bat Cave, doesn’t he? It’s been hard not having anytime for myself, I need peace and quiet sometimes to recharge. As you like to point out often, I am outnumbered by you kids massively when Daddy is at work! So that’s why I have been a bit more shouty than usual, I hope you can forgive me. This is also why I was excited for you to go back to school, you could see your friends again and get back to your education and I could have some much needed time to decompress after a full on six months, and be a better mummy again because of it.

But today when I got home with the two little ones and you weren’t here, I felt so sad. I hadn’t expected it at all. I thought I would feel a weight lifted off my shoulders but instead there was a different weight, the heaviness of the silences that filled the house without you in it. You know what Alex is like, he’s a boy of few words and was happy to just play by himself for the first few hours. I tried  to get involved with his games but he may as well have swatted me away like you would a fly. He didn’t want to play with me, he only wanted you. Tilly decided to nap for hours and hours today and that only made your absence more noticeable. Honestly Leo, I knew I would miss you but I wasn’t prepared for just how much.

So when it was time to pick you up we, of course, left early. I stood in the awkwardly distanced crowd outside the gate, Alex was eagerly looking around for you and Tilly munched on some crisps (I can’t be sure but I think she was excited to see you too). Then you appeared! You were smiling, happy and running towards me with your arms wide open and as you crashed into me I felt whole for the first time all day. Alex jumped down from his buggy board and pushed me out of the way, desperate to get his hug too. “I missed you so much Eo”, he said as he wrapped his arms perhaps a bit too tightly around your neck.

There we all were, the four of us back together again after a day where time managed to feel like it was standing still and flying by simultaneously. Shockingly, you told me aaall about your day on our walk home. I was privy to information I never got to hear prior to lockdown. You told me who you sat by, what you did at playtime, what work you did, what topics you have coming up and you even spoke animatedly about all the things you will be doing for Christmas (it’s too soon for that chat, by the way).

You’ve been a dream since you got home, playing happily, not arguing over snacks and you even waited patiently for Daddy to get home before you had your screen time. I’m under no illusion that this will all last. Once the novelty wears off I am sure you will go back to grunting at me when I ask how your day has been, refusing to reveal any information , keeping your stories held close to your chest like cards in a poker match. As the term goes on and the frequent early starts and busy days start to catch up with you, I am sure there will be more after school tantrums and arguments with your brother. I hope this won’t happen as often as it did before, but I don’t expect this unpleasant part of our weekdays to have completely vanished either. For now though, I am going to soak up all your joy, listen intently as you spill all the details of your day to me and savour all those giant hugs you give me when I pick you up at home time.

What about the virus? You might be wondering. Well, obviously I am worried for you but I am confident you are in safe hands. School have got all their covid guidelines in place and I know that keeping all you children safe is their main priority. If I need to keep you home because of an outbreak then I will, I won’t complain as I know it will be the best thing to do. You’re a good boy, you remember to cough into your elbow, you’re a hand washing expert now and I know you will have no problem doing as the teachers ask.

It’s weird, we’ve waited so long for this day Leo and now it’s over! You’ve made Mummy and Daddy so proud. It’s made this transition into the ‘new normal’ so much easier for us knowing how much you have wanted to be back in the classroom with all your friends.

I hope you’re ready to do it all again tomorrow!

Love you Leo,

Mummy xxx

 

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5 Comments

  1. September 7, 2020 / 8:09 am

    Oh I love this! So honest. I think we’ve all been a bit more shouty and less tolerant at times.

    But saying goodbye to them over the last few days is so so hard x

  2. September 7, 2020 / 11:02 am

    It is so crazy to think that our children had 6 months off school! Certainly something never to be forgotten. My son went in to year 4 on Thursday and my daughters are year 8 and 10 of high school. I hope Leo enjoys school.

  3. September 7, 2020 / 4:57 pm

    aw it was so strange when my eldest went back too! So flipping quiet.We missed her and also were glad she was back with her mates. Hope Leo continues to enjoy it!

  4. September 7, 2020 / 8:51 pm

    I know I’ve shouted a lot more lately. Erin is so happy to be starting school and seeing her friends again now though

  5. Melanie williams
    September 9, 2020 / 9:21 pm

    I can only begin to imagine how hard this has been. The worry what to do not to to do and just trying to make sure that your child is safe xxx