It’s Day 1 of my May-Hem challenge, where I’ll be blogging every day (or trying to) of the months. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts and feelings about the first third of the year.
I cannot quite believe that May has made its way around once more. In terms of Covid restrictions, we are somewhat different to this time last year, and there’s an element of hope in the air.
January opened in a calamitous way, with Boris Johnson insisting on the normal return of schools. As a union rep, there had been many murmurs about what was likely to happen. We were not encouraged to strike; instead, we were reminded of our right to say the situation in schools was not safe. And while, yes, teachers are allowed to be selfish and show concern over their own safety despite being in a caring profession, worries were also about the children, their families, as well as colleagues and theirs.
I always knew that what would happen in January would be turned around against teaching staff. Both the media and the government seemed to place the blame firmly on those working in schools. It almost seemed like a cunning plan to remove the criticism from the people making the big decisions for the entire country onto education professionals.
Yes, it is our duty to teach and guide the children in our care. However, should we endanger our lives doing so? “Oh, don’t worry about that… it’s just a bit of asbestos. You’ll be fine!” Erm – I can’t imagine hearing that. “Don’t worry about it, Mrs. Brown. Of course, we don’t mind teaching Ben while he has chickenpox. Most people don’t suffer much if they catch it.” Nope – that wouldn’t happen either. “This laminator has been in that damp cupboard and not been tested for years, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. The exposed wire won’t be a problem!” Erm… no thanks – the school insurance wouldn’t cover it if there were an incident linked to a dodgy appliance. So, tell me why teaching staff were expected to expose themselves to a hugely greater risk of catching this potentially deadly virus. Money is the obvious answer to that question. Kids in school equate to parents being able to work.
Here’s a disclaimer now: I hated home-schooling my daughters a lot of the time. I found it challenging despite my qualifications that would suggest otherwise. I still went into work, but with much smaller student numbers, and also worked from home on my writing and tuition. The balancing act was horrendous. As with 2020, I found myself working early in the morning and late into the night. Despite being a key worker, I didn’t want to send my girls into an environment where not only were they risking their own health, but they could also be spreading it to the teaching staff (and their families) in their school, too, not to mention passing it onto me and it getting into my school.
Of course, money wasn’t the only reason that old BJ wanted children to remain in school. I completely understand the adverse effects that lockdown has on some children’s mental health. My daughters are lucky to have each other to play and communicate with, but others aren’t as fortunate and may not have anyone within their generation in their family. Furthermore, detaching children from their daily routine can be somewhat traumatic and confusing.
Those months came and went rather quickly. During that time, I did some soul searching, as often happens in times of stress. I reminded myself that there was so much in my life for which to be grateful. People often told me as a child not to wish away the days. As an adult, I’ve generally followed that advice. However, it didn’t come naturally to begin with during this pandemic. Slowing down a little has allowed me to reflect on life, and I give thanks and gratitude to everyone and everything which enrich it for me.
My final thought centres on vaccinations. I am pro-vaccines. I have done my research and firmly believe that I have done the right thing by getting my jab. Twice. Luckily, I received it as part of my work, so I had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in January and the second in April. Extreme fatigue and a bit of a sore arm, worse the second time around, really were the only side effects for me.
With the needle going in, rather than feeling any pain, a sense of relief flooded my body. I’m not an idiot, though; I understand that this does not mean I cannot catch Covid, and it’s not certain if I can spread it even if I am immune. However, an upbeat feeling came upon me that day.
I feel that I can now see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. But I keep reminding myself to remember all those who’ve died or suffered due to this metaphorical tunnel being built. Life is precious, life is short, and life is utterly baffling at times.
May May bring you lots of renewed hope and good health.