We invited children’s author and illustrator Jess Racklyeft to reflect on her experience of lockdown in the age of Corona virus. Jess lives in inner-city Melbourne in a postcode that has been locked down for several weeks. Here are her observations, reflections and ruminations:
As the corona coaster ride continues, we can slide from managing well to veering completely off the tracks, sometimes in the space of an hour. But today, with the sun shining, I can share some successes of life in lockdown second edition. I can try to find the bright side. Here are my personal reflections on what I have found working:
- Early primary school isn’t PhD level. Don’t stress about them not nailing Italian class! It’s made me reflect on the school pressures I inherited from a young age to get good marks consistently. My eldest is only in year two… Calm the farm! There are days we are all switched on, and there are days when Lego calls. Both are ok, and Minecraft is kind of educational, right?
- Work is a wonderful escape. I have never appreciated my employment as an illustrator as much, and those short moments of silence with my paint brushes are like a mini holiday. I also appreciate the fact I can work from home, at random hours, and that illustrating alongside some trashy tv late at night is a complete joy.
- WhatsApp texts with parent friends complaining about the state of affairs is a brilliant use of time. So are Zoom calls with margaritas and mates, as we are all on the corona coaster ride at different points and different times.
- If like me you’re lucky enough to be married to a teacher, you’ll discover that they have some handy skills you don’t. Like being able to teach your kids.
- Breathe. Slowly, and if possible, in the sun.
- Robot vacuums are excellent, even your Aldi one, even if it sometimes mauls an iPad charger.
- Backyard fires, walks by the creek (with mask), picking flowers (with mask), visiting Christmas in July houses in the evening (with mask) – these child-friendly activities remind you that things are still, in the scheme of things, very good.
- Food shopping deliveries are surprisingly handy – how did I miss this memo years ago?
- We are bloody lucky to be in Australia, with its amazing healthcare and services, hardworking frontliners, access to testing and excellent communication daily on what is going on. The covid rates are a rollercoaster of their own, but I do appreciate Dan and his team’s steady delivery of them every day.
- Try and have time with your partner, even late at night. If you’re lucky to have a good one like I do, it’s important to remember you’re a team.
- If you have to get a Covid test, the drive to get one feels like a Thelma and Louise style break to freedom. That’s a good thing, right?
- Small interactions with the neighbourhood become so much more meaningful. We placed a bunch of toy animals in masks on our fence (#spreadmagicnotgerms), and made paper flowers with chalk drawings on the pavement. Watching neighbours stop and smile (well, we imagined they were smiling under their mask), as we peeped through the window felt magically powerful.
- You do get used to it, and the scale of what floats your boat changes. Sitting in the backyard with sunshine, a happy cat, and a cup of tea is suddenly bliss.
The last pages of my book There’s Only One Dad Like You says
“There’s only one dad like you, Dad. My hero, friend and guide. You teach me about this great big world, and how to enjoy the ride.”
Our world is a lot smaller right now, but I am trying to remember to enjoy the crazy ride when we can, in whatever way works.
– Jess Racklyeft is an author and illustrator based in Melbourne. Her book “There’s Only One Dad Like You” is out now with Affirm Press and available at your local bookshop.