I hope you watched this video because I’m not as eloquent, oddly handsome, and empathetic as this gentleman is. On Friday South Africa will celebrate the anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on our shores and by the Ides of March my wife and I will have gone 365 days since our decision to remove our children from school.
In 2020 we ended up in an ideal situation with both our kids’ schools opening for in-person teaching earlier and to an extent that was in line with my own beliefs. I said early on that there was no evidence of children under 12 being vectors for the virus and still believe that today.
I was also happy to pay full price on school fees because force majeure, mos. Also, we got a little rebate from the play school when TERS kicked in.
Fast forward to 2021 and now both kids are at the same school and, although there was no increase in tuition fees, there are other expenses that parents have to carry. Look, I’m grateful for the comprehensive online offering the school provides since the beginning of the academic year, but to take full advantage of it costs money.
My home internet connection, for instance, now becomes the backbone for all corporate activity, as well as a critical component for school attendance. Since both children are at the same school, but are in different grades, we need to provision for another connected device. That extra device also uses electricity, compounding the increased use which came from having everyone at home.
Who is covering these additional costs, bearing in mind that my wife had a salary cut and one of my big clients has no use for my services because their mass participation event has been cancelled for a second year.
We are still to see the full effect obliterating our children’s social life will have on the society they will inhabit. My only hope is that this disruption will curtail population growth because how can you make more humans when the circumstances under which we acquire new mates have been upended…
Coitus will find a way, I’m sure.
I have learnt the intricacies of building an efficient home WiFi network, though. But only efficient enough to sustain multiple, concurrent remote server connections and video calls – not media streaming in our bedroom.
Being a fly on the wall/elephant in the room to witness my son’s virtual first forays into formalised schooling has revealed a depth to his personality that I didn’t know existed. My daughter on the other hand has revealed that she shares even more of my character flaws than I feared, which prompts me to try and be better.
The past 365 days have also been the first year I’ve been in the same physical space as my wife every day since I first met her. I think August 2020 was the most consecutive days we’ve slept in the same bed and the records have been tumbling ever since.
Did this make our relationship stronger? In some ways. I think her doing the school commute and spending every other day at the office has done wonders for her mental health, though. Humans are social creatures, but confinement can breed contempt.
The kids have been all right because children are highly adaptable. The world will be okay too, we are hugely capable as a species and will chart a path out of this pandemic that will be better for all. We do need to open the primary schools to full attendance, though. We owe that to the next generation.
Parents can’t work and care for children at the same time.