It is as if Zeus himself has unleashed a thunderbolt upon us. I creak out of bed and realise that as well as the sun gloriously shining, today is (for now) the final day of lockdown home schooling.
I say that with leaden caveat. Scottish parents have been informed for almost a year by our Dear Leader that we are the scum of the earth and spend far too long chinwagging at the school gates, mercilessly breathing germs upon one another; ultimately killing our grannies.
On the day immediately prior to Christmas break (which has persisted ever since) Cerberus’ class was dismissed along with one other entire year group due to the need to self-isolate. I laughed at the time, noting the idiocy of this manoeuvre, given all the children in his school are at the lowest end of the Covid-19 risk spectrum. Yet I have grim forebodings in relation to that now and for an indefinite period going forward.
With classrooms of twenty children or thereabouts, and prolific testing capacity, it stands to reason that even with schools being open the kids will be lucky if they attend for up to 50% of any given year.
It’s unsustainable, and I await with keen self-interest to see who baulks first. Will it be the teachers, furiously rewriting schedules and lessons from face to face via online and back again? Will parents revolt, tying themselves to school gates demanding an education for their sprogs? Perhaps we will all just capitulate and spend the rest of our lives in fear of the text message telling us not to bother sending the kids to school for another ten days.
I like to think that eventually all those behaving as wet blankets will wake from their torpor and decide enough is enough. We might even elect politicians who want us to work and pay taxes.
On this, our last (for now) day of home schooling, we clock in with teacher Mrs E and rattle through math. Nothing else holds interest for Cerberus at the moment. What he lacks in social skills he makes up for in numeracy. I am beginning to have faith if he doesn’t spend his life arranging Dewey numbers in a library he might be a software or app wizard.
Other than the use of them, I know bugger all about computers, but I have it on good authority there is still a lot of money to be made. You need only look at the half-wits presiding in Silicon Valley like modern day Pharaohs, with their devoted slaves churning out kitten stories, day after day, to realise ethics, brains or principles matter little. We live in the era of baseless success.
At least Edison and Darwin retained capacity for thinking as they revolutionised our world. The heroes of today require little capacity for thought. We are less well off for it. Others however, like my son, and perhaps yours, may benefit from such a void. If he emerges a computer genius, he can play ping-pong with the rest of them at Google, whilst the cash flows on in from us mugs.
Medusa has had a raw deal since Noel. As the youngest she is more amenable to negative influences, but as a general good-egg is starved of attention. Her greatest failing is her complete capacity to entertain herself. For hours she can forage for food, arrange toys, watch Frozen, even send herself to sleep. Far too often this innate ability to survive without interference has led to her being ignored.
Her brother Cerberus has since birth demanded attention every waking minute of the day. As an elfin human specimen he screamed relentlessly and slept for no more than two consecutive hours, as if on repeat, day and night. As a toddler he refused to sleep in a separate bed. And now as a young biped he has the capacity to cause an aneurysm in anyone spending more than two hours in his company.
It’s not that I don’t love him; far from it. There’s something about your own offspring that even, I suspect, as you were crippled by a colossal heart attack caused by the strain they’ve applied to your aorta, you’d still be terrifically sad at the thought of never seeing them again.
The old adage about absence making one fond must have been evidence-based. There is nothing which demonstrates it more than these last two months of enforced ‘family time’.
In spring and summer 2020 we were in a similar situation. Mrs M and I took turns each month for which of us would sleep in the spare room and therefore be undisturbed by Cerberus’ nightly 3am awakening and ensuing disruption.
We obviously didn’t do separation often enough as we we have child number three scheduled to arrive by Easter. Lesson learned.
For now, however, home school is closed. I tell myself I and we will be more proactive in facilitating future interactive learning for Cerberus and Medusa, but who am I kidding. Like everyone else we are just managing to stay afloat. We’ve been long in the water but are yet to freeze to death. That may come if this goes on.