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This Lockdown Life: Discovering the ineptness of others on the lockdown journey has made me feel better about our own family failure



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Well into week 5, Cate Wilson feels emboldened by friends' tales of chocolate cake for breakfast, a husband's home haircut horror and a Zoom school science lesson missing out to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air...

This week has seen the Wilson family in a surprisingly chipper mood. Yes, we still haven’t learned any new skills, mastered digital technology or even worked out how to reset the oven clock – a source of continued marital discontent in the household since the clocks went forward in March – but we are still here. We are well, we are (mainly) on speaking terms and the sun is once again shining in Bishop's Stortford.

Since revealing the abject failure of ‘Project Wilson’ in part 1 of my This Lockdown Life series, I have been gratified to find that we’re not alone. Tales of unwise home dog grooming sessions and the resulting misshapen poodles they produced have littered my inbox alongside tearful confessions from friends involving spare rooms, decorating and mismatched leftover paint. Indeed, the more I read, the more I discovered that we were not the only ones who didn’t exactly have this lockdown life locked down.

The Wilson family coping with lockdown – Cate with husband Scott, son Jacob and Lily Pickle the dog. Picture: Vikki Lince (33947596)
The Wilson family coping with lockdown – Cate with husband Scott, son Jacob and Lily Pickle the dog. Picture: Vikki Lince (33947596)

So with a renewed sense of purpose, I decided to embark on a new mission. No more Wilson family improvement sessions for us. Oh no. Instead I would root out examples of dismal failure by others on the lockdown journey in the hope that by witnessing their general ineptness it would help me raise my game.

The first heart-warming story was the news that wealthy households were finding it tough too. Having had to temporarily wave goodbye to housekeepers, butlers and chefs during lockdown, they were desperately seeking digital training sessions on ironing, laundry and, mind-bogglingly, folding sheets.

More heart-warming was the fact that such e-learning classes actually existed. Well-heeled participants were being enrolled in classes teaching them a specific skill – say, sheet folding – and were then tested, graded and, if successful, awarded a certificate at the end. Ok, this was working. This was actually making me feel better about my lockdown. Admittedly I’m no domestic goddess, a fact my husband of 22 years Scott will readily testify to, but compared to these people I clearly had my act together.

The Wilson family cope with lockdown – Cate with husband Scott, son Jacob and Lily Pickle the dog. Picture: Vikki Lince (33947563)
The Wilson family cope with lockdown – Cate with husband Scott, son Jacob and Lily Pickle the dog. Picture: Vikki Lince (33947563)

In fact, my confidence was such that I decided to showcase my prowess to the rest of the family, inviting Scott, teenage son Jacob and the dog Lily Pickle to gather nervously on the sofa, where they were forced to witness the unfolding and refolding of the spare room bed linen for 20 minutes.

Ok, I didn’t exactly receive a standing ovation, but I could definitely feel the love. Scott gave me a half-hearted thumbs-up before disappearing back to a sudden pressing work email while Jacob sat blinking uneasily, first at me and then his phone. Sadly, by doing so, he unfortunately missed the thrilling climax performance of the double-over-and-tuck fitted sheet manoeuvre. Still, at least the dog gave me six out of 10.

Emboldened by my success, I ventured further into tales of others' failure.

With Jacob’s digital summer school term looming large in my mind, the internet was a rich seam of home-schooling horror stories. Heart-rending tales of parent teachers sacked for drinking on the job and curriculums long abandoned in favour of lie-ins and day-long Disney movie festivals.

Will Smith and Joseph Marcell in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Will Smith and Joseph Marcell in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

A close Bishop’s Stortford friend, who shall remain nameless, confided in me that her 11-year-old’s 'first day back’ of the summer term had got off to a shaky start when, amid watching reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, she had glanced over at the laptop to discover the rest of his class in a Zoom science lesson.

Other friends ventured forth, eager to share their tales of mishaps and broken dreams.

For one friend, it was healthy family breakfasts long since replaced by chocolate cake and, in the case of her eldest teenager, a can of cider, while another readily confessed to deliberately jamming up her kids’ craft drawer so she wouldn’t have to make another home art project.

READ ALSO This lockdown life: Four weeks of lowering the bar on my family improvement plan until I collapse on the sofa with wine, Wotsits and a TV box set

Perhaps most moving of all was the tearful admission by one female friend that her homespun attempts at cutting her husband’s hair had proved so disastrous he had been forced to cancel all work video conference calls for the foreseeable future.

So mission accomplished. I now feel better and my new enlightened position on family life during lockdown has so far been greeted with wild enthusiasm by the other members of the Wilson household.

Jacob no longer fears being woken at 8am by calls for him to embrace the day with vigour, while Scott feels able to move from study to kitchen without being strong-armed to join in a 30-minute Pilates session. Fantastic.

Now I just have to locate Lily-Pickle as the Amazon budget dog clippers have arrived and there’s a home grooming video on YouTube that I think I should probably watch first...



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