OPINION: Ease at which children resumed school offers hope for rest of us

Two little boys are at school, sitting at a table in their classroom. They are both hysterically lau

Helen McDermott suggests the ease at which children have eased back into school offers a boost for us all as we slowly get back into our old routines - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I was really heartened by all those pictures of how our schools have been welcoming their children back to their classrooms.

I loved that one where they’d arranged a Teddy Bears’ Assembly with each child being given a bear of their own; and there was the one in Haverhill, Suffolk, where circus performers had been invited in to share their skills with the children.

Then there were all those other schools where balloons and bunting were bobbing about as caring teachers set about helping the children settle back into their classrooms after such a long break away.

It was encouraging to hear from the children themselves, delighted to see their friends and starting to enjoy learning in class instead by way of a home computer (for those lucky enough to have one).

Near our local GP surgery which we visit fairly frequently these days there’s a school playground just across the road.

The sound of children laughing and playing again after such a long silence really made you feel that there was a glimmer of hope at last, that we might be returning to some sort of normality.

It was encouraging, and yet it was a bit scary.

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These children are managing well so far, but it can’t be easy.

I used to find it difficult returning to school after just a weekend, so some of these youngsters must be finding it tough getting back into the swing of things after so many weeks away.

It has to be said, though, that the thought can be much worse than the reality. Feeling anxious is understandable and that fear of what might be ahead can be overwhelming

Fortunately it seems that teachers now understand better than they once did how nervous many children might be feeling.

I was pleased to read that Nick O’Brien, the mental health champion for Norfolk schools, and some others have agreed that well-being takes priority over learning catch-up for the time being, and that “young people thrive on routine, and that’s what makes schools work.”

This is not just for youngsters though.

I know I’m not alone in being fearful of life getting back to normal, whatever that is.

Selfishly, I’ve rather enjoyed the peace and quiet up our normally busy road with fewer cars breaking the sound barrier, using it as a rat run.

Much as I enjoy an occasional trip to the local pub, I certainly don’t miss the shouting and arguing from drunken revellers as they weave their way home from our local in the early hours.

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Been there myself, of course, in the past. When you’ve had a few any thoughts of the neighbourhood and the lateness of the hour doesn’t mean a lot. But real life has to return, even for miserable old pensioners like me.

It’s no surprise that more people than ever are anxious about the future; anxiety has always been widespread but since the pandemic it’s much worse, that fear of what might be ahead, what we might expect in the future.

Someone once said to me: “You tend to write the script before it’s even happened. I had to agree.

Years before I lost my job I was worrying about losing it. If the cat goes out I’m fretting about where she might be; and if she’s in I start worrying where she’s gone.

I’ve worried about having people round for dinner in case they didn’t get on with the other guests, or if they didn’t like what I’d cooked.

I like being asked to a party but often I’ve never actually wanted to go. Equally, I’ve often set out to throw a party and then started hoping that nobody turns up.

Of course, if they didn’t actually show I’d be worried.

While we’ve been locked down I’ve been worry-free in a way, apart from the cat’s disappearances. We’ve just had to stay in and focus on staying safe, getting through each day.

But now we hear the sound of children playing, proof that anxiety can be overcome. If they can do it, so can we.

Onwards and upwards!