“To start with, lockdown was fun. My wife and I have three girls aged 9, 8 and 16 months, who need regular feeding, cleaning and tearing away from the TV or each other. We made a timetable, got supplies in, got dressed even, but as the weeks went by, our good intentions went out the window and clothes became optional.
“As for work? Let’s call it interesting. My littlest one knows that when Daddy is talking into his computer there are people to wave at. I’m sure it was endearing for my colleagues the first time, maybe even the second, but after the fourth time it gets thin.
“Then there are my two older girls. They’re either silent (worrying in itself), shouting ‘She’s hitting me!’ (not an appropriate Zoom background), or wanting to watch people do the things they should be doing in real life on YouTube for hours. We’ve kept them entertained with Duolingo, a learn a language education app who I work for, The Inbestigators and Dogcraft (google it)… and with work from school. But what they really need now are their friends.
“They need to run around and do what children do. Can you remember how long school holidays used to feel when you were little? For my little ones it’s been like that but times by ten. For my 8-year-old, six months is 1/16 of her entire life.
“We’ve bumped into classmates on our walks but there is that weird stand-off as once inseparable BFFs shy away, not knowing how to interact or social distance. My 16-month-old saw another toddler and she didn’t know what to do. I want them chasing one another, playing, even losing their cardigans again. Yes, we will have to deal with bubbles, staggered start times and all kinds of disruption, but they’ll be learning again (maths has changed a lot since I was at school, and I only found out what a homophone was this year!)
“For me, selfishly, I will love being alone again; not having to gamble if the afternoon nap will last through my next meeting. But I also know I will really miss them not being here. As much as I might roll my eyes at how empty the fridge is, I did have my own voice-activated biscuit delivery system. If I was down, I could just pick one of them up and spin them around. It won’t be the same and I will truly miss that, but they need to be back at school, learning, and being children again. And boringly, but importantly, we all should be able to get more work done, and occasionally catch-up on my TV.”
Colin Watkins is the UK Country Manager for language learning app Duolingo
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