Children in lockdown: ‘It’s quite nice being close to the fridge’

How are Irish children coping with lockdown? Five of them tell us about their lives

 Ruby Moss   (12)  who is in lockdown in her home in Cabra, Dublin. ‘I’m enjoying not having to go out anywhere and having infinite pyjama days,’ she says. Photograph: Tom Honan

Ruby Moss (12) who is in lockdown in her home in Cabra, Dublin. ‘I’m enjoying not having to go out anywhere and having infinite pyjama days,’ she says. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

Ruby Moss (12), Cabra, Dublin

When my mum told me the weekend after the schools closed that we probably wouldn’t be going back until September, I burst into tears. I hadn’t been able to say goodbye to my friends in St Patrick’s Cathedral Choir School on the Thursday, as I had been attending an entrance exam for secondary school.

Thankfully, after the first week at home I began to realise it wasn’t all that bad. It’s quite nice being close to the fridge and all the food!

I’m in lockdown with my mum, my cat, Buttons, and my dog, Clara. Buttons has to stay inside, which at first he wasn’t too happy with, but Clara seems to be quite happy to be able to chase her cat around the house all day.

I’m enjoying not having to go out anywhere and having infinite pyjama days. I also like not having to do homework after school hours. I try to keep up with schoolwork but at the same time I learn what I want to learn, how I want to learn it.

I like learning online with my friends and keeping in touch with them through technology. It must be hard for kids who don’t have laptops to stay in touch with their friends and their schoolwork. I’m doing free online courses on the website Future Learn, which helps a lot.

Most of all I like doing art and music, and learning about cats. I’m not too worried about Covid-19, as long as we stay inside and take extra precautions it should all be fine. When I do worry, I know I can talk to my mum about it, or watch Buttons for comfort.

At the same time, I think it’s important to be slightly worried, so we’re prepared for the worst. My mum is coping with it well, by having nice vegan food deliveries and keeping it together. We’ve ordered fabric to sew masks and make them for other people, but the best way to help others is to stay indoors.

Ryan Mpofu (14), who is in lockdown in Mosney Direct Provision Centre in Co Meath
Ryan Mpofu (14), who is in lockdown in Mosney Direct Provision Centre in Co Meath

Ryan Mpofu, 14, Mosney Direct Provision Centre, Co Meath

I am in lockdown with my mum and my three siblings, Dominic (17), Leah (6) and Luna (2). I am finding this situation very challenging. Studying at home is difficult. I really miss having a teacher to guide me through, especially subjects like Irish.

I am from Zimbabwe and our Irish teacher at St Oliver’s Community College, Co Louth, was always very helpful, explaining the things I didn’t understand.

It’s all much harder now. My schoolwork is very important to me. I want to get a good education so that I can have a better life for me and for my family. I want to be a lawyer or maybe a teacher. So it is frustrating when school assignments come in and I don’t have a printer to print it out, or the internet connection is down. We have terrible internet in the centre. I don’t have a laptop so I have to rely on the internet on my mum’s phone.

Even when the connection is okay I find I can get easily distracted playing games or watching videos on social media. Sometimes I find I am up very late, until three or four in the morning trying to do my work. I am finding it all very stressful to be honest.

I miss a lot of stuff. I miss going to church, spending time with my schoolmates. I miss the fun times at training, in the school gym or playing Gaelic.

I am worried about the virus coming into the centre, some people here still do not listen to the law. You find out people are still going around in groups. Some of our parents have different types of diseases so for them there’s a high risk of them getting it.

I don’t really go out much at all, except to take out the bins.

Eve Cullen (9) who is in lockdown in her home in Thurles, Co Tipperary
Eve Cullen (9) who is in lockdown in her home in Thurles, Co Tipperary

Eve Cullen (9), Thurles, Co Tipperary

When the school principal told us we were going to have no school for at least two weeks, everyone in fourth class in Scoil Angela in Thurles cheered. That seems like a very long time ago now.

Some of the people in my estate are really old and live on their own, so I wrote them letters. I thought they’d like to know that someone had their back.

My dad got a lot of calls to say thank you (I put his number on the letter), and a few people wrote to me to say it was good to know I was there. One of them was in hospital, but they still wrote and sent me stamps, so I’ve written a few more letters to my friends.

I miss getting to go places – anywhere. And I miss my friends – all of them.

I don’t miss school, because dad has made us do lots of schoolwork. I think I did less in school. But at least when I take a break I can watch telly and play the Nintendo Switch (which my sister brought home from London).

In my house there’s my dog Roxie, my cat Echo, Mum, Dad, and my two older sisters, Katie and Ellen. Mum was working in a shop, but it’s closed now. Dad works from home.

Katie was in London, but came back here to Tipperary a few days ago, which means Ellen has moved back into my room. So I don’t have my own bedroom any more, which I’m not happy about.

While we are stuck in the house, I’ve got to do some things I like more often. I love cooking, so I’ve been making anything where I have to crack eggs (I love cracking eggs).

My favourite at the moment is a cloud egg, which I made with Mum. It’s really easy, but fun. You separate the yolk from the white. Whisk the white until it’s fluffy. Make a hole in the middle and heat it (180 degrees for five minutes). Then you put the yolk into the hole and back into the oven for another few minutes. Then, enjoy. It tastes the same as a normal egg, but looks way cooler.

I have been on my bicycle a lot lately. Even when it’s cold outside. I fell off one day and scraped my leg. It was only a little bit sore, but I was shaking for ages. I realised that if I hurt myself more I would have had to go to the doctor, or even the hospital. Which was scary. But I was fine.

Ellen and I also do the Joe Wicks exercises on YouTube, but I don’t really like it. I do like to walk Roxie.

Dad says the rules mean I have to stay the length of our kitchen table away from others when we go for a walk or cycle. But it’s only for people outside our house, not my sisters.

Sometimes, I wish it was the other way around.

Jodi Nic Eoin (13) at home in Tallaght, Dublin
Jodi Nic Eoin (13) at home in Tallaght, Dublin

Jodi Nic Eoin (13), Tallaght, Dublin

I’m on lockdown with my dog Nellie and my mam. The best things about lockdown life are getting to spend some quality time with my mam, having more time to read and to practise more baking recipes.

I just recently finished The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman, and I’ve made some very tasty lemon cupcakes.

The worst things about this crisis are the lack of routine, not being able to see my family or friends and of course the worry and stress of the situation.

The thing that scares me is the possibility of a family member getting sick. When I am scared or worried I cope by trying to distract myself with reading or schoolwork. What I’m missing most now that I have a break from schoolwork because of the Easter holidays is something to do, being stuck inside seems to make everything boring.

I think my mam is dealing with the crisis really well by not panicking and by making sure that I’m still eating well and being as active as possible. My schoolwork is going well, but it’s hard without the teacher there to explain.

My dream afternoon when this is all over would be a big gathering with all my family having a meal together.

Tomás Griffin (17) in his bedroom at home in Tullamore, Co Waterford
Tomás Griffin (17) in his bedroom at home in Tullamore, Co Offaly

Tomás Griffin (17), Tullamore, Co Offaly

I’m on lockdown with my parents. All my siblings are living elsewhere in Ireland. I don’t like the uncertainty we are all facing, especially given that I am in sixth year in school. Aside from not knowing what will happen with exams, I also feel I am missing out on my last chances to spend so much time with certain people. Cabin fever has set in, and limited social interaction is also tough.

One of my parents is relatively high-risk so that is definitely a concern as well as my granny who lives alone. However, we’re all taking the right measures to stay safe so this isn’t a major issue.

I am mostly worried about the economic situation that will face us in the aftermath, as it looks like I will be going to college and graduating into another major recession.

I use different things to stay calm and keep anxiety at bay. I read (fiction, non-virus related) and exercise daily and do my best to talk to people other than the people I’m in lockdown with over the phone at least every other day.

I’m missing the gym quite a lot as it was an important social outlet for me as well as giving me time to myself and non-academic goals to focus on. For the most part, I miss the otherwise small and spontaneous interactions with people, chatting with strangers or sharing a laugh or a quick few words with people in school. I’m normally quite social and a tactile person, so interacting face to face with people is probably what I miss the most.

Youth mental health charity Jigsaw offers a suite of free professional support, services and advice, including Covid-19 related content, for young people, their families and teachers. For more see www.jigsawonline.ie.

The Irish Times is running a new “isolation art” competition for children. For more details, see the Magazine, or go to irishtimes.com/artcompetition

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