Uninspired but mandatory COVID-19 post

When the pandemic hit and lockdown became a reality in Luxembourg (16 March 2020), I felt like I should document it so we could remember all the details of what happened when we look back on it years from now. But I put myself on survival mode for those months and did not make the additional effort of writing posts about all the awful/wonderful things.
Confinement ended, slowly, school started again in split classes and halfdays, and then went back to full classes in halfdays before the end of the year. You both got great results, as usual, and despite the unbalance caused by the pandemic.

Now, it’s not clear that things will go back to normal; not to the normal we had before, that is. September is fast approaching and Luxembourg has been placed on many countries’ blacklists due to our “second wave” and its spike in cases and deaths. If Luxembourg remains hard-hit by the virus, will the Ministry reopen schools normally? Will halfdays remain the rule?

There’s too much to unpack in one post and I’m not honestly up to the task, but here are some disorganised thoughts on how we experienced the lockdown:

– Chéri very much enjoyed remote working and took full advantage of the additional time to garden with you, especially Elsa. We’ve never grown and harvested this many things: tomatoes, green beans, strawberries, raspberries, chard, sunflowers, kale, coriander, mint, basil, pumpkins, green pepper, red and black currants, an avocado plant, our fruit trees full of quetches, reine claudes, mirabelles, red prunes, our apricot tree, and let’s see what the apples look like later this year. This has, of course, been documented in pictures!

– We got to spend so much time together as a family.I cooked almost every day so we could have nice lunches and a lot of them were eaten on our terrace thanks to the nice weather. Not much evidence remains of this but I hope you’ll have good memories of it. We followed up each meal with a nice round of darts, which was really fun!!

– I also took out my sewing machine and turned a bunch of old clothes into homemade masks. I was very proud but none of you loved them, for different reasons.

– Nina perfected her trampoline moves and helped Elsa learn to do back salto, back handspring (flic-flac) and all sorts of cool stuff! I’ve taken picutres and filmed you doing crazy gymnastics on the trampoline, so we will not forget this part for sure.

– Schoolwork was not too hard for Nina because she has already learned to structure herself and can work more independently; the downside being that we give her a lot of room and… it doesn’t always work out. Some things were forgotten, some things were left until the last minute; the usual!

– Elsa had a harder time concentrating and working idependently because, at 8 years old, some structure is still missing, some things haven’t been learned yet about how best to use our time and how to motivate ourselves. A lot of time was invested into getting the homework organised, done, sent, corrected, studied… and, in the end, you made the effort and were back at school with no problems or delays.

– You both did a great job of keeping up with music theory homework despite the fact that Chéri and I could not really help you much. A big thanks to Nina for helping Elsa when needed!

– Our family is as privileged as I can imagine one can be without being rich. Our house is so big and full of essential technology, that we all had our comfortable, individual workspaces set up in no time. Chéri took the upstairs office beside our bedroom, Nina in her room, Elsa in hers, and I took the guest room in the basement. There was no shortage of iPads, laptops, printers, etc. We bought you homepods to listen to music while you worked (that was a bit of a battle for me, since you would put it on all the time and lose concentration). You had desks and chairs, and I loved to see you working there. And when work was on pause and it was time for a break? You had a huge yard to play in, a trampoline, a slackline, veggies to plant and take care of…

– Weekly shopping was very stressful for me because I had this feeling of impending doom and it was uncomfortable to have to keep pushing thoughts out of my head so I could focus on groceries. Wearing a homemade mask and dishwashing gloves, I pushed my cart looking at my grocery list, trying to feel as normal as possible. Chéri would be waiting in the car to disinfect my hands when I was done and drive me home. The groceries were left in the basement for as long as possible just in case they had been handled by someone with COVID-19.

– Despite our privilege, Elsa cried at least once a week for the first month because she missed her best friend, Lisa, so much. They FaceTimed a few times but it’s not the same. Nina didn’t cry in front of us but she was clearly unhappy not being able to see her friends from class. You both missed going to school, which I find reassuring, but made it hard for you during the lockdown months. Elsa had some Microsoft Teams sessions with teachers and classmates, Nina had a couple of Google Meets with hers (and totally missed one French lesson due to lack of organisation…).

– We celebrated Elsa’s 9th birthday with lasagna and “cheesecake” layer mugs. It was sweet and you were very happy because your birthday was exactly your first day back to school. Here’s to being able to have a birthday party with friends next time!

– Abuelo had been sick for 3 weeks (with the flu!) before the lockdown hit, so we hadn’t been able to see him on weekends as usual for even longer! We did Skype lunches and dinners with him and DongDong, in Thionville, and Flocolima, in Berlin. It was great to talk more often with everyone but it didn’t replace the physical contact, so we were super happy when lockdown ended and Flocolima were able to visit us from Berlin for a week in June! Abuelo and DongDong were able to come as well, and the size of our house suddenly made sense for a bit.

– When the border to France opened up we took a weekend trip to Dijon and were able to see Chéri’s family again. We met your new little cousin, Tiago.

– When school started again you were both nervous but you were also excited and happy to see your friends again! The rules about no hugging, no contact, masks, etc. were not great for what you needed: you wanted hugs and kisses and closeness. The return was nonetheless wonderful for you because halfgroups meant more calm. When classes were joined again for the last weeks, it was a bit more chaotic but you were ok with that.

– Elsa hasn’t stopped asking “why us?” as in: why does this have to happen during my lifetime? You certainly didn’t do anything to unleash the virus. Scientists and experts are warning that, unless humans stop using animals as they do now, we will have more and more of these episodes.

– Nina feels cheated out of her first year of Lycée (and independence), and of her last months with her new best friend, Léa, who moved to Switzerland at the end of the school year. I can only agree with you both: adult humans are to blame for this; you’re just suffering the consequences.

So, after all this, summer vacation arrived and… you deserved a nice holiday at the beach and the pool, so we took you to Sérignan; same camping as last year. We had great, sunny, warm weather and you took full advantage of the pool, the beach, and the ice cream; despite having to wear masks indoors in public.

Before the beach, you had an intense week of soccer camp, which you rocked because you’re incredibly strong and driven.

You’re both now in Berlin with Abuelo and Flocolima for 11 days. Yesterday you went to the beach and I think you had fun based on how happy you seemed on FaceTime later. Abuelo seemed tired from all the activities so I hope you’re behaving well with him!

I miss you, I love you, always.

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