A huge thank you to all the Lockdown Heroes

This is by no means an exhaustive list and I will (unintentionally) miss off people, but I wanted to share my experience of Lockdown (so far) and thank all the Lockdown Heroes who have helped me and my family.

The NHS

It’s an obvious place to begin, given the circumstances. We have always had a positive experience of the NHS, even if waiting times are long and services woefully understaffed. But they have reached new heights of awesomeness. Calling 111 a second time (the first to discuss suspected COVID), the responder was concerned by my breathing during the phone call. Within half an hour an ambulance arrived, and two paramedics checked on me. My first thought was gratitude and relief, as the unexpected call out had heightened my anxiety to silly levels. My second thought was concern that their PPE would frighten my son. Yes, he was anxious, but not because of the PPE. Honestly, I have better protection when decorating than they had for tackling a potentially deadly virus. The sight of those two lovely souls in cheap masks and disposable aprons hammered home how much our key workers are at risk. Thankfully, my (suspected) case was mild and hospitalisation was unnecessary. But that will not always be the case when they respond to a call.

I am indebted to all the NHS staff who place themselves in danger to help us. Thank you.

School

I follow several teachers on Twitter and have watched with interest their new takes on ‘home schooling’. I have seen them dedicate hours to preparing new resources. They have taken the time to reassure students and their families. My sister, an assistant head in an independent school, has taken a significant pay cut and almost doubled her weekly workload, to ensure that pupils are provided for and that there is a viable, functioning school to return to afterwards.

Little Chick’s school have been incredible. Having collaborated with several local schools, they have kept provision going for children of key workers and those that need it. Little Chick was offered hours, but we declined them. However, now that I have (probably) had Coronavirus (and the health risks are lessened) and he has been off school for eight weeks (due to various issues before Lockdown) we feel that he needs that interaction. He is a sociable wee fella and he misses his friends. The phone calls from teachers have buoyed us, the headteacher has contacted us regularly, including with video assemblies and messages. We have sent his beloved TA photo postcards to show her what we have done and to stay connected. She has responded with videos of stories, hilarious tales that make him giggle that little laugh that only Mrs F can elicit.

School is a funny place for Little Chick. It can cause ridiculous levels of anxiety and dysregulation. But, especially with the tailored provision the school have put in place for him, he is starting to see it as a safe place. And a fun place. And he misses it. And, boy, so do I!

Thank you to all the school staff who are finding new ways to engage and reassure children, to be virtual safe spaces until we can all commune safely.

Key workers

Having been ill, with a school-aged child, it is no surprise that the NHS and schools start the list. Often other key workers are overlooked. Wrongly. Even in this section, I will miss some. And I am sorry for that. For the oversight now, but mostly for doing so in the past. Taking for granted the people and services that keep our lives ticking along nicely. The unsung heroes who keep us happy, safe, and well. Particularly, I am grateful for our postie, an affable chap who always has a smile, whatever the weather. He has helped keep us connected with others, delivering letters, packets, and parcels, which bring us joy, good news, and even gifts.

Our local delivery service has been depleted, but you would never know it from their commitment and attitude. Thank you.

Food is a sensitive topic in our house. Although scarcity of food has never been an issue, control over food is something we must watch. With limited and irregular supplies, the past few weeks have been tough for Little Chick. The unpredictability of meals has been trickier than we imagined. He has also sought comfort in food, something he has not done for over a year. Maintaining and improving the supply and delivery of food to our home has been vital to all of us since Lockdown. The delivery people have been greeted with beaming smiles and requests for Babybel.

Everyone in the food chain has kept us well fed and lessened the stress. Thank you.

Other key workers have made life more manageable for us too. Even our post adoption support social worker has kept things ticking along, checking on us and chasing our adoption support fund application, as well as fielding our calls and emails.

A massive thank you to all the key workers who are keeping the country going at great risk to themselves.

Our neighbour

We moved to this area ten years ago, knowing no one. A work colleague lived close by and became a friend. When we moved home (a mere mile up the road) we became neighbours. And it was one of the best things that has ever happened to us.

Our neighbour is a legend. She is one of those fascinating people who knows something about everything and always knows the person who knows more or can help you out. She is also the embodiment of kindness. She makes you feel good about yourself just by being around her. We cherish our time with her (and her partner). She was a guest at our wedding, one of only a handful of non-family members, and was our referee when adopting. We love her. She has always been a reliable person to call on but never more so than during Lockdown.

She has shopped for us, dropped off surprises (from a safe distance), baked birthday cakes so occasions are marked, brought flowers to cheer me up, texted to check how we are and if we need anything.

She has been a constant before and during Lockdown. What more could we ask for in a friend and neighbour? Thank you.

Our family

We have stayed well connected with family, sending regular messages, cards, and photos. We have used FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype, with mixed success. But nothing beats giving someone a hug, looking them in the eye, and saying hello. I love you. I missed you.

Little Chick has found it especially difficult. Having not seen other family members for over three months, this is the longest he has gone without physical contact. He is not a fan of video or phone calls and runs away when asked to greet a grandparent. But they haven’t taken it personally and have sent videos that he can watch when he wants. Videos of pets, videos of cousins playing in the garden, videos with songs, videos with stories. Videos sent with love. They have given him some control in a time where everything must feel completely out of his control.

For this precious and thoughtful gift, I am extraordinarily grateful. Thank you.

Adoption UK

Since we became members a few years ago, I have always been impressed with the work that Adoption UK does. We joined to gain support and help influence regional and national policy. We sought connection with others who ‘get it’.

During Lockdown, their support has reached another level. Having introduced webinars by specialist guest speakers there is even more knowledge readily available to be shared. Hopefully, these new technological opportunities will continue post-Lockdown. Equally, I have found the online community welcoming and reassuring, a sense of connection, but I am looking forward to meeting up in real life.

More than ever, I am thankful for my fellow adopters, for my tribe.

Friends

I sometimes worry that I don’t have many friends, certainly not as many as I should, but Lockdown has reminded me that it is quality over quantity that matters. The few friends I have fulfil different but essential needs – I have the friend that makes me laugh every day, the friend that will offer sage advice (or a Pinterest link at a pinch), the friend who ‘gets’ our family and understands the dynamics between us all. Over Lockdown I’ve reconnected with old friends and I’ve forged forward in new friendships.

Whether we have known each other for years or weeks I am grateful for them all. Thank you.

My wife

I genuinely would not be here writing this today if it weren’t for her. Even though I’ve sometimes questioned her level of dedication and care (sorry, please blame the illness), she has kept me afloat. She has kept me mentally and physically well. We have spent more time together than normal, including small pockets of quality time, which we needed to reconnect. On a side note, I’m also grateful for her therapist, who has helped us both, not least because she has echoed many of my concerns and suggestions, though with considerably more gravitas and far less passive aggression.

The Other Mrs Reed Warbler – Thank you!

Our children

My head and body are tired, so very tired. But my heart is bursting with pride. Pride at how well our children have done. All the children. All the small souls who have had their worlds turned upside down with no warning, no tangible explanation, and no end in sight.

Little Chick has astonished me, yet again. Yes, he has found life tricky and some days have been so catastrophically bad that we have simply vowed never to speak of them again. But some days have been glorious, rich with magical moments that seemed impossible just a few months ago. Overall, we have treated this period like nesting, that time immediately after introductions when adoptive families are encouraged to spend time together and apart from the wider community, to nurture and deepen attachments. It hasn’t always been easy, but we are certainly feeling the therapeutic benefits. Little Chick is like a new boy. Rather, he is like the little boy we knew before the anxiety, fear, and dysregulation of school sent him into a tailspin. We loved him no matter what but now we are seeing all those characteristics we loved and missed: his smile, his laughter, his ability to make us laugh, his earnestness, his kindness, his sense of adventure, his dancing, his curiosity. Most of all, we have seen how different our life is with regular, quality sleep. It has been truly transformative, for all of us.

To all our children, who are facing new obstacles daily but keep on trying, thank you.

I am truly grateful to everyone who has carried me this far through the COVID pandemic: You are all Lockdown Heroes. Thank you!