This is part of a collection of short stories depicting and detailing true events and personal experiences in my life, with a few tweaks for the privacy of all involved.
On the 7th of July 2020, Victorians everywhere woke up to a familiar routine. Get out of bed, make a coffee, wait for the daily Dan Andrews press conference where the premier would go through the COVID-19 cases and if there had been any losses of life, he would send his condolences to their families. On this day, the 7th of July, Melbourne was plunged into a hard lockdown which would last almost four months.
Over those four months, the new daily cases rose to nearly triple digits and around 800 Victorians died. Businesses closed as restrictions meant a shutdown of nearly every industry leaving people unable to pay their rent. Schools were closed the entire time and children were forced into remote learning, losing months of critical and valuable early development. The mental health and well-being of Victorians was pushed to the brink but we came out of it and months later, things felt a little more normal.
Fast forward to February, Victoria entered a snap lockdown which lasted a week and then another one again in June.
By the time it had reached the 14th of July, Melbourne again entered into a snap lockdown. The restrictions were lifted on the 27th of July which allowed everyone to go back to work and children to attend school again. The relief and normalcy was short lived as, for the 6th time, the state was thrown into a 7-day lockdown once again on the 4th of August. Unfortunately, this lockdown and set of restrictions is still in place as I am writing this – on the 19th of August, 2021 – and will be for an unknown amount of time.
After witnessing my eldest daughters’ mental health deteriorate last year, I am filled with anxiety and a feeling of helplessness as we sit in lockdown again and history repeats itself. The closure of schools and all but essential services, only being allowed to leave your home for 5 reasons, the closure of playgrounds and parks… As a Melbournian, these are hard memories from not even 12 months ago. What’s even harder is seeing it happen all over again due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.
Today, I took my two daughters for a walk and as we came closer to the playground I decided to let my 6 year old have a quick play wearing a face mask and gloves. After not even 5 minutes, a man with a dog approached me and reminded me the playgrounds were off limits. I told him I was aware and he then flashed his police badge at me threatening me with a fine.
Let me break that one down for you:
I live in Australia. I am the mother of a 6 year old. I took my 6 year old to the playground and a “police officer” threatened to fine me for letting her play.
Let’s go back two years, to before the pandemic, when life was normal. If I had kept my daughter from school and attempted to home school her, I would have been told that was a terrible idea. If I had kept her home, without social interaction, I would have been called cruel. If I only allowed her to get 2 hours out of the house a day for months on end, someone would have called DHHS and I would have had a knock at the door because it’s bad for their development to keep them trapped at home without socialising. Now, in 2021, we are being forced to do all of those things that would be considered bad parenting.
When will this madness stop? When will we realise our children are going to be irreversibly damaged by these lockdowns? And when will we begin to prioritise their mental health?