‘I MISS my friends.”

“Can you stop talking about all of your friends please because it’s reminding me how much I miss mine.”

These were the words of my children who are the focus of this week’s lockdown lives.

In the first few weeks it was novel to be at home. They like being at home because we are hugely privileged and have a safe space to stay that has plenty of things to keep us entertained, including each other. They rejoice in the opportunity to not leave the house at all and to remain in pyjamas, or more often than not, half dressed in either direction.

Are you worried about coronavirus? “Not really,” says my seven-year-old, “in school I heard that it doesn’t get children.”

The language interests me – the virus described as if a monster or a bad person that tries to capture people. Their indifference is pretty selfish; if it doesn’t affect me then I’m not worried. But above their self-absorption (and show me a seven-year-old who isn’t self-absorbed) is another reminder of our family’s privilege, the conversations they’ve overheard, the news clips that they’ve understood parts of – they talk of old people, sick people, occasionally black people, but not often enough in terms of the demographic that this virus is hitting hardest. Their limited, yet relatively accurate understanding is that it doesn’t affect them. They will stay home. They will – because we can – follow the government guidance and stay safe.

“Will lockdown be over for the birthday party?” There are brief moments of realisation and sadness. Fleeting conversations that oftentimes begin with “If we weren’t in lockdown” and “when lockdown is over”... but they don’t last long before the next conversation or game has begun. I am grateful that the anxiety we experienced during various points of school hasn’t appeared during lockdown. If anything, they seem calmer, closer to each other and to us and happy to have more time together.

“I don’t like talking to people on the screen.” They miss their friends. But having not been particularly tactile pre-lockdown there isn’t the insatiable desire to hug people that they hear their parents speak of. They miss climbing on their Uncle and wrestling with cousins but questions around hugs are still met with indifferent shrugs. They have each other and they have us and that appears to be enough for now.

I read the book My Hero Is You: How Kids Can Fight Covid-19 that has been developed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental and Psychological Support in Emergency Settings. I worry that I haven’t done enough to speak to the children about what is going on but then realise that I’m a firm believer in that conversation being led by them, and they aren’t anxious or fearful and we have checked that... repeatedly.

But the story helps me. It helps me realise that while we are not all in this together, the one thing we do share is in terms of managing the unknown. Our circumstances, our lifestyles and our privilege mean that we are all offered opportunities to do this in different ways. However, we are all managing the same unknown situation and we are all basically winging it. My children are used to us winging it. It is what every parent has been doing since the moment they realised that they were a parent; no matter how many books you read, how many “experts” you listen to or how many scenarios you play out, when it comes down to it, you’re winging it.

That isn’t to say there isn’t comfort to be found in the words and experiences of others and it certainly isn’t to say that I’m not hugely appreciative of the wonderfully accessible book My Hero Is You - it is free and available in a vast number of languages, second only in translations to Harry Potter, I believe! It is simply a recognition that there is no right way for us, for our children or for our communities during this. There is only the way that works for us.

I miss my friends. Did I teach them those four words or are they theirs?