Yesterday Tiny finally had her first full day at school – after lockdown, the summer holidays and then a week of
painfully slowly increasing hours. And she loved it! When I picked her up she ran to me brandishing an excellent portrait of a monster, a huge smile and… a horrible cough.
I chose to ignore it at first, but as the evening progressed, the cough got worse and my husband and I realised we couldn’t just send her to school the next day without getting her tested for Covid-19. Although it is much more likely that she has a cold, the thought of sending her in spluttering everywhere just didn’t sit right. According to the rules, her big bro Small couldn’t go in either. And neither could my husband, a secondary school teacher. We’ve obviously been thinking a lot about ‘living with Covid’, but yesterday it struck me just how very inconvenient it is! This virus has disrupted life in so many ways for the past six months, but somehow Tiny’s possible symptom felt much more annoying. A cough had thrown a spanner in the works for the whole family.
There were no tests available at all on the Government website, so my husband and Tiny went to the local pop-up testing centre to try and get a test. And after a three-hour wait they were successful. But the staff said they have a limited number of tests each day and if we hadn’t managed to get her one, it would have meant self isolation for two weeks. For a cough. (For the record we had the result in less than 24 hours, impressive!)
Suddenly I could see why the statistics on people sticking to self isolation are so poor. Many of us feel that the measure that applies to our situation is an overreaction. We have a tendency to try to talk ourselves out of it. But it’s worth thinking through the potential implications of our actions. It occurred to me that if Tiny did have Covid-19 and we had chosen to ignore the guidance, we would have exposed two classes of children to the virus. That’s 60 families in one day, plus teachers and their families. Sobering. Following the guidance suddenly felt very sensible.
Whether or not I agree with the sometimes seemingly arbitrary rules or the numbers permitted for social gatherings, the fact is that the rate of infection is increasing. It’s made me think twice about flouting the guidance when it doesn’t fit with my plans and preferences. If social distancing measures were easy, we wouldn’t be in the situation we now find ourselves in. It’s a pain in the backside, but it is a small sacrifice to make, in the grand scheme of things.
The reality is that we will all have to get used to a bit of inconvenience again. We need to get used to it, because other people’s lives depend on it. We’re not great at dealing with inconvenience in our society. We’re accustomed to getting what we want or need fairly instantly. Most actions we need to perform in life have been made super-convenient for us – from internet shopping to shouting at Alexa, we’re just not used to waiting or making accommodations any more. Maybe it will actually be positive for us to learn a bit more patience and acceptance!
So please, when you’re uncomfortable in your face mask on public transport, embrace the inconvenience. When you’ve got an important work meeting but one of the kids has a fever, embrace the inconvenience. I truly believe it will help stop this virus spreading and protect vulnerable people who are now back at work, the school gate or the supermarket. It might actually help us learn to cope better with things that mess up our plans!
Nb. Tiny’s test came back negative!