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Life on Lock Down – Perspective from Adam Smale

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I’ll preface this by saying that I know I’m lucky. I know that there are people in a far worse position than myself and my family. I’m lucky enough to still have a job full time, being able to work from home, and for that I am incredibly grateful. That said, even people like myself are encountering some challenges during this unusual period.

I live in Church Hill with my partner and daughter For the most part we’re getting on OK. As I mentioned above, I’m able to work from home, which has helped pass the days a little, but equally I’m getting to the point where I’ll be glad when I can get back to the office, just for a bit of normality.

Our biggest challenges really revolve around my daughter and my partner’s job. My daughter, 4, is autistic and finding a balance between a “good day’s work” and keeping her occupied all day can be a struggle. Whilst I spend as much time with her as I can, I can’t help but think that it isn’t enough. Leaving her to her own devices, as I’m sure many of you will understand, is risky as she really doesn’t grasp the concept of danger, but when you’re expected to be on a conference call every morning, there really isn’t much of a choice. She’s getting far too much screen time at the moment, too. Indeed, I’d back myself to recite verbatim various episodes of Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol and Hey Duggee!

Before all of this started, she was in a position where she attended both a mainstream and specialist nursery, and her development, particularly in speech and language, was coming on leaps and bounds. Obviously, she is currently not attending either. My fear is that, when she starts school in September, she won’t be anywhere near ready. Both myself and my partner (who I’ll come on to shortly) really do try our best, playing little games and setting her various challenges, but we’re still learning about autism ourselves. There’s no substitute for trained professionals, especially at such a vital stage of her development.

My partner works in social care, caring for elderly and/or vulnerable people in their own homes. Whilst she enjoys her job, it is currently a very stressful time. Understandably, she’s concerned that she may well not only contract COVID-19, but pass it on to one of her customers or to myself or our daughter. I am also concerned by this potential issue, but like everyone else in the care industry, NHS and thousands of other key workers up and down the country, she’s getting up each morning and putting herself out there to keep the country going, and for that I am incredibly proud of her.

It isn’t all doom and gloom, though, and the lockdown has thrown up some positives too. I’m spending a lot more time with my family than I did previously. I’ve always been out of the house early, and home reasonably late, so during the week I’d be lucky to get an hour with my daughter before bed time. Now I’m with her every day, and get to see her development rather than hearing second hand accounts. As a family, we’re spending more time together outdoors, too. Whether that’s in our modest back garden, or making use of an open space near home, we’re finding that we’re getting at least a bit of time outside every day, which we never could before.

I can’t finish this without mentioning the family cat, the incredibly loving but equally annoying family cat. He’s wonderfully patient with the little one, as she’s got a bit of an obsession with him at the moment and can get a little bit too enthusiastic when stroking him, but he takes it all in his stride. He doesn’t get a moment’s peace, if he’s not got the little one bugging him, he’s got the neighbour’s kitten. They seem to have formed something of a friendship, but as young cats tend to do, there’s a lot of play-fighting goes on, so whether in or out, poor Jimmi rarely gets time to himself! He’s now well known to my work colleagues, too. My keyboard has, on more than one occasion, become a cat bed, and he’s made the odd guest appearance on video calls as well.

I think overall, we’re coping with this lockdown quite well. Will we be glad when it’s all over? Of course, but it absolutely must stay in place until the country is in a position to see this virus off.

Stay safe, Redditch.

Adam Smale

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