18 May 2022

Remember the front line heroes, but don't forget about the children

Lockdown is not all crystal clear for children

Remember the front line heroes, but don't forget about the children

Lockdown has lasted that long, I am actually beginning to get used to the new normal.

Tuesday saw the ninth edition of the County Derry Post without a match report, without an athletics update and without any kind of preview.

Getting bogged down in feature and nostalgia pieces gives sports journalists the opportunity to chat with characters and legends from yesteryear. It is the perfect therapy.

Living and working in isolation, is just how life is at the moment. You appreciate a daily run and the chirping birds all the more.

Every day seems the same, but some things are dotted in to keep the week structured.

Joe McCloskey hosts a zoom quiz for our circle of friends, so that means it is Saturday at 8.00pm. Fr Doherty delivers mass via the webcam, so that means it is Sunday morning at 11.30 and proofing pages means it is Monday and deadline time.

Our daughter Erin's school, St Brigid's / Bunscoil Naomh Bríd in Tirkane, have been excellent at rolling out enough work to keep her engaged.

I play Múinteoir Daidaí and set out a few tasks. Not a lot, but just enough to maintain some sort of structure.

There is so much out there that is learning, the practical stuff. My wife Pauline took her on a nature walk to pick wild flowers for a May altar. Granny Sally is teaching her how to grow tomatoes and the treehouse, crafted by Granda Mickey, is getting well tested. And all the teddies made an appearance in the garden to make a zoo, as shown in the picture above.

It is just great to be able to spend time with your family.

Then one evening came a statement that just stopped me in my tracks.

“Daddy, when this is all over, can we go to that Kitchen place in Magherafelt for a chocolate milkshake,” Erin asked.

Her 'this' is the coronavirus and she is talking about 'Shorty' McNally's (nobody knows him as Fergal) cafe, a hub of chat. Erin always get a milkshake and I get the half and half with chicken curry that always hits the spot.

Erin follows up: “Daddy...when will this all be over?”

“I don't know pet,” comes my answer. And I don't. I feel tiny and helpless.

At this stage, the penny drops. What must be going on in their wee heads?

The schoolwork is irrelevant. They will all catch-up sometime. A cuddle and some reassurance that you are there for them is more important.

Every Thursday night, a round of applause is dedicated to those working in the NHS and on front line.

But me, my thoughts are also dedicated to the children out there. They have also been thrust into a whole world of uncertainty. God love them.

One thing is certain though...Shorty's next serving of milkshake and curry will never taste better.


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