Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Covid-19 Diaries - Lockdown Day 52 - a fear of going outside

It's been ten days since Spain's children were first allowed out of their homes.   

"Do you want to go outside?" We ask our toddler every afternoon.

"No," she says.

"We could go to the beach! Don't you want to go to the beach?"


"We could go to the grassy bit and say hello to the Guau-guaus!" 

Say hello as they poop all over the grassy bit, I think. 

"No," she says, focused on her building blocks.

Once we get outside though, she is happy. She points out the colours of the cars. Blue! Blanco! Blue! If the stray cats aren't around she miaows at a tree for a while.  She loves the sea and doesn't seem to feel the cold. 

But before she steps outside the door, there is a hesitation. I'm not sure if it was there before lockdown.   

A few other Mum's in my whatsapp group have observed a fearfulness in their children about leaving the house too. Some have become clingy and want to stay in their parents' arms. I came across a piece about this side effect in the local newspaper. About how adults and children can become anxious about leaving an environment in which they've been confined in for a long time, even when it's imperfect.   

The truth is, even I have felt apprehensive about going outside. Although I expressed relief in my Liberation Day post, I wrote it before I went out that evening. 

After I published it, my husband and I crept out while Sol slept, taking the monitor with us, and leaving a neighbour in charge, just so we could walk around the block together. There was so many people along the main promenade. I felt quite overwhelmed. 49 days in lockdown and I wanted to go back home.

The next day, when the allocated exercise time arrived, I went outside by myself. 

I walked away from the main streets, choosing the quiet roads behind my house. The first thing I noticed was a wonderful smell of jasmine. As I walked, a lump grew in my throat. 

There were individual and couples out and about too. As people approached each other on the same pavement, they would step onto the road or cross to the other side to observe the recommended social distancing space. I wanted to cry so much, but the tears wouldn't come.

I told myself to slow down. After so long closely investigating every detail in our apartment block - dried up woodlice, decapitated millipedes, petals, leaves, sticks - I didn't want to suddenly return to old ways and rush past all these things. 

I stopped. I looked at the moon. I said hello to a stray cat. I observed a fleshy cactus. I wanted to cry, but I didn't know how.

Today was a special day. Today my friend and I agreed to meet on the beach below the house. Her son is Sol's best friend, who she has asked after nearly every one of these lockdown days. Worried the mum would expect Sol to wear a mask, I told her that I would be happy if they played as normal, because if they couldn't touch each other it was more stress than it was worth. She agreed.

My stomach ached with anticipation that morning. I didn't tell Sol who we were going to see until we were preparing to leave. She became so excited. 

There was no hugs or kisses, only big smiles. The smiles were mainly between us adults! After pining for her little boyfriend all through lockdown, in the end Sol was so totally absorbed building a "grande grande" sandcastle that she barely acknowledged him. Meanwhile her enthusiastic little friend went to a lot of trouble trying to find her the very best shell on the beach.

It was a really wonderful encounter. It wasn't just any old day at the beach. 

In fact. It was. And that was why it was perfect. 

For the first time in a long time, life felt normal. I realised I wasn't holding my breath and I didn't feel like crying. Instead, I felt full of hope.

Read more posts from Covid-19 Diaries:

Lockdown Day 41 - Important announcements


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