A Tale of Lockdown – Fantasy vs Reality

Elissa Johnston A Tale of Lockdown

Another lockdown, Mummy thinks. We can do this, in fact it will be a fantastic time. Two weeks we can cherish as a family and the two boys will bond even tighter, playing together like cherubs in an Italian garden.

It’s day two and Mummy muses on what to do. She wonders around the house, opens a cupboard and her eyes flick over the forgotten bubble machine. She smiles. 

Mummy checks to see if it work, and it doesn’t. She turns it over and changes the batteries. It still does work. Oh, that’s it, her husband returned flat batteries to the battery box instead of disposing them in the bin. Mummy tries another round of batteries (and safely places the flat ones in the rubbish) and voila. The machine is roaring.

Picking up a bottle of bubble solution, Mummy takes it outside.

“Look boys.” Says Mummy.

“Bubbles!” Says Boy One (the eldest).

The bubbles start to cascade into the air and the boys run around clapping and poking and laughing. Mummy thinks what an ideal Insta-worthy moment. She ponders where her phone is. Because of course Mummy should capture this sacred time as a record of when she (briefly) nailed Mummy life. We will send the picture to Daddy, she thinks. He is stuck at work as an essential worker and it will brighten his day to show him we miss him and what a shame his is away from this magical bubble wonderland.

But before Mummy can retrace her steps to locate the phone, Boy One insists he wants his own bubbles.

“Ok.” Mummy says, thinking more bubbles can only add to the utopia.

After a few minutes Boy One is making his own bubbles. Boy Two watches on and quickly decides Mummy’s bubbles are not the superior ones. He waddles over to Boy One. 

Mummy has a sense in the pit of her tummy that she should separate the two. But as usual, Mummy ignores that inner wisdom and instead chooses the convenience of not getting up from her chair.

Boy One yells at his brother. Mummy sighs and stands up. Boy Two reaches out for the bottle of bubbles that Boy One holds. Boy One snatches them away, ensuring as he does that he tips a little onto the deck in a very deliberate manoeuvre.

How conniving we can be at the tender age of 5, Mummy thinks.

“Boy Two spilt my bubbles.” Declares Boy One. He holds his head high and stares at his Mummy, demanding justice.

“Boy One, I saw what you did, you tipped those bubbles out.” Mummy says.

“I did not.” Says Boy One.

Boy Two reaches again for the bottle, but Boy One is too quick, he steps back, and while eyeing down his brother, tips the remaining solution onto the deck.

A string of profanities enters Mummy’s head, but she is strong enough not to let them escape her lips. Instead she throws her hands into the air.

“That’s it. No more bubbles.” Mummy says, hoping the authority she doesn’t have is coming across.

“That was Boy Two’s fault.” Boy One cries.

Mummy puts her hands on her hips, about to correct him when she watches Boy Two walk over to the puddle of solution and slide around before falling over.

Mummy groans. She wonders why she dressed him in his good green corduroy pants when they are in lockdown and going nowhere and will be seen by no one. Silly Mummy, when will she learn.

Boy Two trips again and Mummy scoops him up. She places him on a clean section of the deck and reaches for the hose. She begins to hose off the solution.

“Yay, muddy puddles!” Says Boy One. He jumps right into the water and begins bopping around. Boy Two toddles over and they are both laughing and clapping. Mummy returns the hose in defeat. She eyes the surroundings and deems it safe.

“Ok, but when you are ready to come in, you are using a towel and taking your pants off.” Mummy says, her inner voice noting more washing. 

Mummy enters the house, grabs an old towel and returns, laying it at the back door. She checks on the boys.

Boy One is roaring with laugher as he lades up the soapy mixture in his hands and rubs it onto the head of Boy Two.

Mummy screams. She bursts the door open and snatches up Boy Two. She runs her hands through his fine hair and a trail of slimy bubbles sticks to her hand.

With a painful moan, Mummy goes inside and proceeds to clean up the hair of Boy Two with a handful of wipes because Mummy doesn’t quite have the energy to bath him at that moment. She strips him off and dresses him, again, in more casual, hand me down clothes.

Heading back outside, Boy One has now taken a few of his clothes off and is rubbing bubbles up and down his legs and arms. She calls him, takes off the remaining clothes, wipes him with the towel and sends him to his room to change. She looks over at the carnage. Mummy wonders why she bothered in the first place. She checks her watch and is horrified to discover the entire ordeal only lasted fifteen minutes. And worse, it is still morning. Mummy locks the back door. She wonders whether it would really be so bad for the boys to have some screen time.

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