I’M BACK!

Hello everyone! How are you all? I’ve finally cleared enough off my plate and in a good headspace to write and interact on blogland again. I’ve missed this, being able to reflect and journal my emotions, thoughts and experiences. For the last two months, I’ve been under the pump trying to survive another lockdown – our sixth – playing cheerleader to the 8-year-old daughter doing remote home learning (who is suffering from lockdown fatigue and missing friends), acting as a jester to the 4-year-old son who needs constant attention (or will break sh$t or injure himself when left to own devices), relegated to the servant and cook for all, and mustering energy at night to study. It’s been mentally and physically exhausting! I’m amazed at how people who work full time or even part time, are able to juggle studying and home life. Kudos to them! 

The upsides to lockdown are that as a family, we spend more time together playing card games (Monopoly Deal), computer games (Worms WMD), watching movies, and going for family walks. Unfortunately, there are a heap of downsides too. We haven’t seen family or friends for almost two months, considering there was only about a week between the fifth and sixth lockdowns. The kids are missing out on social interaction and educational development. Collectively, we do less exercise, do too much screen time (for school, work and leisure), and eat poorly. I’ve become a pro at avoiding other humans, and I fear that when I’m let loose in society again, I’ll probably have to work on my conversational skills and maintaining eye contact. Feels weird these days to look people in the eye.

What else have I been up to? Let’s see. There’s been comfort eating. Checking COVID rates. More eating and gaining of weight. Complaining of said weight to the only other adult in the house (who isn’t faring any better, in my opinion). That’s about it. It’s the sixth lockdown people… eating is the only pleasure I’m allowed. I’m no longer baking my own bread or plucking my eyebrows. I’ll be lucky to make it out with my sanity intact. 

Anyway, I’m hoping that by getting back to writing, maybe I stave off the madness of lockdown and the binge eating that comes with it. For those who don’t follow me on Facebook, I’ve included some of the highlights of my days. Enjoy!

Hope to be back to regular posting now that I’ve finished studies for the year.

Copyright © 2021, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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IS THIRD TIME REALLY A CHARM?

On Friday morning, I woke to whispers of a third lockdown and thought ‘Here we go again’. The State’s hotel quarantine had failed yet again, and community transmission of the dreaded mutated COVID strain had begun. There were 19 confirmed cases in the State. Newspapers started reporting that Victorians were about to be hit with a snap five-day lockdown to curb the possible undetected spread of this deadlier and more transmissible virus that was ripping through the UK.

Like the rest of Victoria, we had plans and lockdown would throw everything out of the window. We had swimming classes the next day. Lunar New Year celebrations were planned for Sunday. There was school swimming starting on the following Monday and parent teacher interviews on the Tuesday.

Messages started circulating among friends and families. Someone heard from someone who knew someone who worked somewhere who vouched that lockdown was imminent. That’s how reputable news travels these days. And where there is smoke, there’s surely to be fire, right?

By lunch time, it was confirmed. Victoria and its 6.49 million residents were going into a hard lockdown again. We would only be leaving home for four reasons; essential work, medical care and care-giving, food and exercise. We would be limited to 5 KM from our home (except for work) and exercise would be reduced to 2 hours. One person would be allowed to go food shopping, once per day. Weddings were to be postponed and all non-essential businesses to close.

While lockdown causes little damage to our financial situation, for some of our family and friends, it has the potential to significantly affect their livelihoods.

A friend of mine who owns a restaurant and already struggles with staffing and revenue, was forced to cancel all of his Valentine and Lunar New Year bookings. All the time and money he spent prepping food for the weekend crowd will probably go to waste unless delivery and takeaway orders can make up for the cancelled bookings. Another friend who owns a small business running baby sensory classes only recently reopened and now has to deal with cancellations. My brother’s friend was forced to cancel his wedding today. I don’t even want to think about how that’s going to affect them financially with unused flowers and food.

While it’s easy to suggest that a five-day lockdown is necessary and pales in comparison to the devastation of a rampant pandemic, it’s still a hard pill to swallow. Victorians are still reeling from the last hard lockdown and there are those of us who have barely had time to readjust to normal life. As much as I am thankful that Australia hasn’t experienced what other countries are currently suffering through, it must be acknowledged that lockdowns cause a different kind of devastation.

The possibility of another prolonged lockdown makes me anxious, and I’m doubtful that I’ll be able to cope with going back to my studies, doing teaching placements and homeschool two children. But let’s not go there. Positive thoughts and all.

So, with the announcement of a snap lockdown to begin on Friday night at 11:59 pm, we decided to have a Lunar New Year dinner with my parents beforehand. Was it counterintuitive to have family gatherings before a lockdown? Most definitely. Probably a bit like how people gathered in pubs for a last hurrah across England before lockdown restrictions were imposed. With 19 cases across the State, I was willing to see my extended family for an hour or so.

The eight of us gathered for a quick homecooked meal and red pockets for the children. If you don’t know what red pockets are, it’s a tradition where adults usually give children, employees and unmarried singles red pockets filled with money in hopes of receiving good luck. In return, these recipients offer well-wishes for the year.

My 4-year-old son thanked my dad by saying “I hope you get to buy lots of junk to put in your house and make you feel happy.” For my mum, he wished for a magical fountain to appear in her lounge room, spurting endless supply of his favourite apple juice. The good chap made $85 buckaroos for the night.

My 8-year-old daughter thanked me by saying “I hope you don’t get fat.” You can bet she received a paltry red pocket from me. Even with the snark, she made $95 bucks for the night.

Back in my day to get that kind of money, I had to bow in front of an uncle and aunty and spout empty platitudes before they’d give a measly $5 note. And there’d be a billion children lined up in front of a billion relatives. It was a tradition you couldn’t shirk and took FOREVER. Kids these days just rock up, stick their hand out and say whatever they want and grandparents just think they’re the wittiest little beings. If that happened back in my day… 

Anyway, we left after staying for an hour… a bit like Cinderella and the ball, in a hurry and not wanting to be caught when the clock struck midnight.

The small family gathering was what I needed to give me the strength and fortitude to see through this third lockdown. We’re already witnessing pandemonium at the supermarkets. Toilet paper is being stripped off shelves. Panic buying has started up again. You’d think going through a third lockdown that people would be calmer. After all, supermarkets are still open, and it’s only for 5 days. But maybe Victorians are lockdown wary and bracing themselves for the announcement of a longer lockdown. I know I am.

Copyright © 2021, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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JOURNEY TO MATURITY

During lockdown, we bought a Nintendo game called Animal Crossing. Have you heard of it? It’s a popular social simulation game where you play a customisable character that willingly moves to a deserted island run by a (shady-ass) raccoon named Tom Nook, the island landlord. He gives you a tent and some tools. You make ‘money’ through selling fish and bugs that you catch. Pillaging and pilfering for resources from smaller islands and trading on the turnip stock market gets you the big bucks (ahem… just a tip). You can recreate your own dream island filled with friends, fruit and money trees, a museum and a clothing store. If you don’t mind repaying exorbitant mortgage loans to Tom, you can turn your humble tent into a three storey house and hoard furniture and clothes until your heart’s content.

Anyway, I’m getting off track. The point is, the kids love this game and so do I. It’s fun, friendly and ever so addictive. Whenever my three-year-old son has a turn, he likes to take off all his character’s clothing and run around in his underwear. Whenever my seven-year-old daughter has a turn, she likes to go to the clothing store and spend all her money on unnecessary fashion.

It’s painful to sit and watch them play. I have a habit of telling them what to do. I remind them that there’s fruit to harvest and sell, weeds and fallen sticks to pick up, mortgage loans to repay, and island star ratings to consider.

My husband always says, “Let them play their game how they want.”

You see, I forget that each child is playing the game to their level of maturity. Each person is unique in their definition of success and their journey to maturity. What a three-year-old boy finds interesting is different to that of a seven-year-old girl. And the same goes for adults.

My son is a hoarder of fish and furniture. He has a room filled to the brim with fish tanks and furniture stacked randomly inside and outside of his house. My daughter has questionable taste in fashion and wallpaper. She will spend her entire savings at the clothing store. But that is their game. That is what’s important to them. That is where they are in their journey.

As an adult, I am used to running on that pesky treadmill of life (obviously not literally because sweating and I have a hate-hate relationship). I am much further along in my journey to maturation, having experienced some high and lows of this rollercoaster called a life. Sometimes I forget to have realistic expectations of my children.

I need to remind myself to give my children the freedom to grow emotionally, socially, spiritually and intellectually at a pace that meets their needs. They will have plenty of years to be burdened by the complexities of life but as a parent, I can try to shelter them as best I can. Hopefully, in a way that doesn’t turn them into precious snowflakes!

In the meantime, I’ll wait until they’re asleep to log onto Animal Crossing to harvest all those unpicked fruit, make some money and pay off their loans. Hey, I’m not addicted! Someone’s gotta do it. Well, that’s the excuse I’m sticking to.

Copyright © 2020, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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