It was the best of weeks, it was the worst of weeks, all on account of covid19.
Best in the sense that I didn’t have to leave the house because I have been working from home the whole time, mostly in my pyjamas; I didn’t have to do the 5 am wake up and the routine that follows with the premature closure of school; I got to spend more time with my child; and I somewhat mastered the ability to filter out the many, many scare mongers on social media.
It was the worst, having to effectively, sometimes grudgingly, take on the roles of mom, teacher, cleaning lady, cook, waitress, nurse, psychologist, motivational speaker, playmate, home movie date, journalist, among others, all at the same time, within an approximately 14-hour waking period, with no clear end in sight; ironically, having to spend every waking hour with my child; and, ironically again, the fact that I haven’t left the house since last Sunday.
It is exhausting and frustrating, even for someone who is referred to by said 11-year-old child as an “older version” of Wonder Woman.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s announcement on Wednesday that the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam was postponed until possibly May certainly did not help. For although I had promised my son and myself that I would not allow this exam to take control of our emotions and, by extension, our lives, as we drew closer to the April 2 finish line I’m ashamed to admit I found myself feeding our stress level with gourmet meals. I just wanted it to be over, and a postponement, understandably a necessary precaution in the midst of a pandemic, deflated me. Older-Version Wonder Woman had a moment of weakness and it was glaring.
Fortunately for me, showing weakness is not something I have ever been ashamed of because I have always been able to acknowledge my humanness, older version super hero qualities aside. My 11-year-old recognised it for what it was and sprang into action.
“Mom, that just means I have more time to prepare,” he tried to lighten the moment. I appreciated his effort even though I knew by the next hour our usual battle would resume – JJ and the PS4 vs Older-Version Wonder Woman and the SEA past papers sent by his teacher. I knew who was going to win, but the actual battle on a daily basis, which will now extend into more than a month, always has been and will continue to be draining.
Despite my moment of deflation, though, I commend the prime minister for taking a stand as a leader and implementing measures, as unpopular as some of them may be, to prevent a rapid spread of the coronavirus that would undoubtedly cripple the healthcare system if the number of people needing treatment at the same time becomes overwhelming. A scenario that if extrapolated, can never end well. Just look at what happened in Italy.
For in as much as I would prefer my son’s qualified teacher, Marlon Kowlessar to be the one championing the fight in face to face classroom sessions in the lead up to the exam, adhering to the social distancing rules, which may very well be the saving grace of the health and safety of the people of TT, is of much more importance. I thank Sir for offering an alternative in evening online sessions, which I believe will soon be the new normal in TT.
In as much as I would like to satisfy my craving for a beach, river, family, community lime; go see a movie; go shopping; visit friends; or take a much-needed vacation; staying at home unless it is absolutely necessary for me, or anyone, to go out makes all the sense in the world right now.
And I encourage people to follow the World Health Organisation’s guidelines in trying to curb the virus:
• ↓Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.
• ↓If soap and water is not readily available use alcohol-based hand rubs and sprays.
• ↓Maintain social distancing of at least 1 metre (3 feet) between yourself and others, especially people who are sneezing and coughing.
• ↓Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• ↓Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
• ↓Stay home unless it is absolutely necessary for you to go out.
• ↓If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, call the hotline numbers provided by your local authorities.
• ↓Stay informed on the latest developments about covid 19 from reputable websites.
• ↓Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from the virus.
Just as important, though, is to accept the situation for what it is and find ways to make it as comfortable, enjoyable and as productive as possible.
Currently, I’m working on finding a way to pay the principal, teacher, cleaning lady, social worker and counsellor, cafeteria staff and school nurse on a journalist’s salary. That and trying to keep the student out of the staff room and the staff bathroom.