My daughter goes back to daycare tomorrow.
It's the end of eight weeks for our bubble.
Eight weeks when she didn't see another face. Eight weeks without going to the playground, having play dates, going to a cafe for a fluffy, joining me for a supermarket trip, going to her beloved swimming pool or hiking up her favourite hill.
At only 3, her life suddenly grinded to a complete halt. Her world shrank to the size of our home and the people in it.
In this seemingly apocalyptic world that for eight weeks stood hauntingly still, she filled our days with beautiful chaos.
We baked, we did kids yoga, we had movie nights. We set up camp in the living room and roasted marshmallows over the wood burner. We picked different flowers and leaves, admired their colours and shapes. We went for walks in nearby streets spotting bears on windows, we collected pinecones. We found different types of mushrooms, read her favourite books ad infinitum. We played Lego and had bubble baths with every toy that can handle the water. She rode her scooter around and around the backyard. We stargazed and looked for the moon on the clearest nights. Nothing monumentally interesting, nothing worthy of Pinterest, just allowing for the slow passage of time to let us to finally be free again.
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It feels like we did so much and nothing at all. But then again, that's parenting isn't it? Pandemic or no pandemic.
I always think of that quote from Seinfeld about loving "the garbage time". There's been plenty of that lately.
Seinfeld said: "I'm a believer in the ordinary and the mundane. These guys that talk about 'quality time' — I always find that a little sad when they say, 'We have quality time.' I don't want quality time. I want the garbage time. That's what I like. You just see them in their room reading a comic book and you get to kind of watch that for a minute, or [having] a bowl of Cheerios at 11 o'clock at night when they're not even supposed to be up. The garbage, that's what I love."
Between getting work done and just overall trying to survive a pandemic, there hasn't been a lot of textbook "quality time".
But maybe it's time to redefine "quality" anyway.
For so long, we confused "busyness" with "quality time" as if just doing something was definitely better than doing nothing.
Lockdown in our bubble was full of ordinary, average moments. Wonderful average moments that we will treasure for a long time as we slowly return to the rush of the grind, with pick ups and drop offs and lunchboxes and dreaded "things to do".
We will never be able to truthfully say that we would do other things "if only we had more time" because we did have more time and we did not do them. So maybe these imaginary things that make up that idyllic "quality time" aren't really that important after all.
There's a lot to be gained from the time sitting next to her as she watches her 16th episode of Paw Patrol for the day while I try to get work done. I see her, from the corner of my eye, clutching her Paw Patrol teddy and think to myself "this, too, is what I'll remember". The time when we weren't rushing anywhere, when we were just ... being.
Those times when I am sitting close enough that I can keep an eye on her but far enough away that she can't tell I'm there so she keeps playing on her own and making up entire worlds with her Lego animals and pieces (which I'll no doubt have to tidy up later).
Negotiating with her to brush her teeth this evening, then getting through the long-drawn task of getting her to go to sleep. Absolutely wonderfully rubbish time.
Tomorrow, as I drop her off to daycare, under strict new guidelines, our bubble truly bursts and she'll get to see her friends again.
My daughter, my absolute hero of lockdown, took it all in her stride. Her world shrunk to a small bubble, with no warning or understanding of what truly was going on, and she just carried on.
As for me, in this "unprecedented" time, I've truly learnt to value "boring time" with her. There's a lot to be said for doing nothing. For slowing down, for just being.
As our worlds begin to fill up again, may we keep the value of stillness we gained from this time we all stood still.