I saw a text post on Instagram a little while back from writer/actress/LA it girl Erin Foster: ‘Not to brag, but what a time to be childless’, followed with the cheeky caption, ‘Sorry I couldn’t answer, I just woke up.’
As a sleep-deprived parent in a pandemic, I can see the appeal of being completely and utterly alone during the coronavirus crisis. I’m juggling working from home life while also keeping a family of four from disappearing into the sinkhole of laundry, water glasses and biscuit crumbs.
Quarantine without offspring would surely be a more relaxed form of isolation. Imagine! No early starts, no home schooling, no bickering over board games, no lame rules around ‘the family iPad’, no pretending to be cool with your pre-teen daughter dancing in a crop top on TikTok.
Apparently, there are adults who are bored right now. Bored! I see you, people in face masks who don’t have to hide in the toilet to check Instagram. Spare a brief, tender thought for us beleaguered parents who aren’t able to binge Hacks in one go. We had to space it out over several evenings like animals.
So, while my demanding darlings are occupied with their visually and texturally exciting snack plates (bloody frittata, again), I’d like to write them a note.
To my children, who I adore: Your bedtime is getting later and later. We’ve given you Disney+ and majority ownership of the lounge room. We’re making you mini pizzas for breakfast and organising FaceTime playdates and getting those ‘maybe for Christmas’ LEGO sets delivered now. We no longer give two s—s about you drinking fruit juice. So please. Please. Stay in bed until 7am.
To my children, who I love: I’m sorry you’ve heard the strain and worry in my voice lately. For you, my doted-upon little sprites, this is a small but terrifying shift. I’m sorry I only skimmed that article about ‘ways to talk to your kids about COVID’ and yelled at you for touching the escalator handrail at Westfield. I’m sorry I somehow forgot to tell you that more people will be wearing face masks in public and that will seem scary and confusing. I’m sorry you heard me on the phone begging your grandfather to stop going to the supermarket. I really don’t know how all this will affect you, but I hope you’re gaining something valuable about kindness and empathy.
To my children, who I like most of the time: Yes, I briefly thought this would be a chance for you to start an all-consuming creative project, which is why I threw those corporate buzzwords at you. Innovate! Agitate the landscape! Disrupt the discourse! I admit that was weird and in truth, I’m actually cool with whatever you want to do, as long as it’s not watching blue-haired paedos play Fortnite. I’ll even help and/or give you some money.
To my children, who are intensely, unavoidably, inescapably here with me: I haven’t had all the right answers to soothe you through this, but I promise my ‘trying my best’ instincts for you have never wavered. I love you and I will do anything to keep you safe. I understand now how lucky we are to be in this together. It’s nice lying on the floor, surrounded by the messy evidence of our happy life, seeing things from your point of view.
But no, you still can’t have your own YouTube channel.