Diary of a busy practitioner, juggling work and family somewhere in England

To Deceptively Angelic Looking Child Number 1,

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that you’ve had 10 weeks of schooling in 10 months. I’m sorry that when I do have time I spend most of it with your sister, who simply can’t do her schoolwork without my help. For each lesson we have to watch a short video from her teacher, then access a worksheet from the learning platform, take a screenshot of it on my phone because I can’t work out another way to print it, print it and then read it to her to enable her to complete it. We then have to take a photo of it and upload it back to the platform. You can do this yourself, she can’t.

I’m sorry that I shouted so loudly at you on Wednesday, but to be fair you were brandishing a curtain pole, threatening to hit your sister with it, right behind me when I was trying to draft a settlement agreement.

I’m sorry that I just ignored one of your closest friends when I walked the dog because he had grown so much and I didn’t recognise him. I’m sorry that you were so wound up by the time you spoke to another close friend on Zoom that you were grumpy with them and they might not want to speak to you next time. I’m sorry that the only time you saw me smile on Thursday was when you crept downstairs and saw me chatting to my own friends on Zoom.

I’m sorry that your curriculum is so blooming random. That you had to spend a whole week learning about magnets and poetry when I could think of ten things off the top of my head that will be of more use to you like first aid, and budgeting, and public speaking, and making bechamel sauce, and law (yes, really). I’m sorry that I keep ignoring all the more interesting additional resources people keep sending me – from the zoo and something called Hoglets and even Bez from the Happy Mondays (which I am sure would be right up your crazy sister’s street) – but I don’t have time, not when you are taking so long to knuckle down to the work that has actually been set for you.

I’m sorry that you are so wound up that you can’t sit still to do the more interesting of your pieces of work, and that you were so restless you made about 30 attempts to draw a horseshoe-shaped magnet for your poster about magnets, and that I only realised how tormented you must have been after you had gone to bed and I found the bits of paper screwed up all over the house.

I’m sorry that I can’t get into Animal Crossing. I just have no interest in building another house to keep tidy.

I’m sorry that I had to work when it was snowing and that it had turned to rain by the time I had finished.

I’m sorry that we might have to shave your head to get rid of the tangles at the end of all this.

I’m sorry that it is taking you two hours after bedtime to wind down enough to go to sleep, when your sister’s asleep within the first few bars of the Imperial March.

I’m sorry that every time you hear me speak to anyone outside the house there is – 10 months on – still only one topic of conversation. I think Grandad could talk about The Coronavirus all day if we let him, and if I don’t keep telling Gran to stop going to Waitrose three times a week then who will?

I’m sorry that I keep telling you that you are lucky: that we don’t work in hospitals or supermarkets or anywhere else that places us at a higher risk, that we aren’t clinically vulnerable, that I work part time, that we have been able to keep up our mortgage payments, that we have crisps in the cupboard, that you both have a tablet and books coming out of your ears. That we have Netflix. You are eight, and have no concept of the importance of these things. You are just annoyed that the crisps are the healthy baked ones. It is OK that this is all you care about, because you are eight.

People have often said (behind my back, but I’m sure of it) that I shouldn’t have taken this job if I wanted a family. My darling, I wouldn’t have taken this job if I had known what would happen. But no one knew. They won’t want to furlough me because I’m too profitable, and I hope that one day you will be really proud. Really proud that I am good at my job. Really proud that Mum and Dad worked together to muddle through each day and would still be speaking to each other at the end of it. Really proud that your mum was a bit of a sixth-form maths whizz, and despite losing many brain cells in the intervening twenty years, can at least help you with your long multiplication. And really proud of yourself, and your ridiculous sister, because however tough you are finding it, you will get through it, and in a matter of months there will be sun, and vaccines, and lots of laughter, maybe a holiday, and proper crisps at Gran’s.

*Some facts and identities have been altered in the above article

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