Hot House

No news is bad news

Claudia Savage-Gore is trapped in remote learning hell with an incontinent pooch

This article is taken from the March 2021 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering three issue for just £5.

Like everyone, I have literally no news. Other than how much I’m using the exploding brain emoji and the time I shouted during a remote Kumon lesson, when I was very much not on mute, “For fuck’s sake Minnie, it’s Hector’s Zoom, get the fuck off the fucking iPad NOW or the puppy is CANCELLED!”

His entire class must have heard, including his deeply irritating teacher who pointed out that I was audible. Mortifyingly, my first thought was that everyone will realise we only have one working iPad.

Which parents, with two kids at private schools, are both key workers? Only the psycho dual banker couples

I mean, last time schools closed there was at least an element of apocalyptic drama. This time was just like a recurring bad dream. Also, unlike in 2020 when we pulled the key worker card (Will’s job involves oil, meaning that he is somehow “a critical worker”) and kept all three kids in school, this time it only worked with Lyra’s head teacher.

Infuriatingly, Hector and Minnie’s schools were barring any child without two key worker parents. Something about the South African strain. I mean, come on! Which parents, with two kids at private schools, are both key workers? Only the psycho dual banker couples.

So everyone else has been marooned in remote learning hell, Whatsapping each other links to interviews with child psychotherapists recommending “sensory water bowls” for anxious six-year-olds. Whatever the fuck a sensory water bowl is. I probably need one.

Meanwhile Lyra has been making a massive hoo-ha every day about having to go to school. Incidentally, who are these children who apparently “miss school”? Pure wishful thinking on parents’ part.

Hector couldn’t be happier to be educated via a screen, and never to have to leave the house or interact with another child. Surely the more likely outcome of school closures is a generation of agoraphobics?

Anyway, Lyra has been attending school as the child of a frontline hero (lol) on the proviso that we order and perform regular private at-home Covid tests on her. Apparently this is not unusual, particularly in overpriced nurseries. Cue a weekly Sunday night gagging session, and a not insignificant amount of cash spent on said swabs.

This is the head teacher’s way of keeping as many families’ fees coming in as possible. Surely they could do these bloody tests at school? Or at least supply us with them.

Needs must, though. Lyra’s only got a year until her 11-plus interviews, and with the atmosphere at home not exactly edifying we need all the help we can get.

Among it all I’ve somehow agreed to a puppy

On the plus side, since childcare has been technically legal this year I’ve outsourced all of Minnie and Hector’s home schooling to tutors, nannies, and other parents. I say parents, I mean mothers, obviously: the insane class rep ones, who keep inexplicably creating more Zoom meetings for their progeny. Even with back-up, managing the Zoom diary has been like a second, menial job.

Among it all I’ve somehow agreed to a puppy, which is not only bound to be a massive ball-ache but is also apparently a lockdown cliché. And not even a lockdown 2021 cliche, a 2020 one. We practised by dog-sitting my friend Pandora’s cockapoo Kanye and I came close to kicking him within 24 hours (dog shit on Soho Home rug).

Will was traumatised by my reaction and didn’t understand how destabilising it was for me to have it confirmed that I am a person who doesn’t actually like animals. Also, surely the salient fact was that I didn’t kick Kanye? Right? Someone get me a sensory water bowl.

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