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‘Why do we keep snatching normality away from our children?’


By Amanda Cassidy
10th Jul 2021

Children standing beside river looking at water

‘Why do we keep snatching normality away from our children?’

This summer the government will allow my children into a bar, but not to their gymnastics camp. Amanda Cassidy on the bizarre decisions being made that will once again punish children (and their parents)

I’ve worked extremely hard over the past 18 months to keep things on as even a keel as I can for my children.

No biggie – that’s my job.

We’ve done everything asked of us during the pandemic – stayed at home, rooted for the front-line workers, stayed away from the vulnerable, walked every inch of our neighbourhood, home-schooled to the point of insanity…

Proud of how they’d contributed to the pandemic by doing what was asked (even though they were unable to celebrate two years worth of birthday’s with friends, go on school trips, attend granny’s funeral) the kids skipped into school, ecstatic to be among their peers, back at GAA, even the swimming lessons didn’t get their usual groans.

Anxious

Seeing how important it was to get back to a level of normality was a weight off our chest – you know, that heavy feeling that keeps you away at 3am because your daughter was starting to withdraw, your son was suddenly disinterested in talking to friends, another friend’s child so anxious at one point that they were afraid to leave the house.

As parents, we’ve seen how beautiful it is to have our children begin to embed themselves back into their community. I’ve finally been able to take on more work commitments. The summer was something we were all excited about, until the latest restrictions from the government.

This weekend, the Taoiseach admitted he understood that NPHET’s advice to ban indoor summer camps and group training is causing “difficulties and significant disappointments”.

But he insisted was a measure that needed to be taken because of the Delta variant. “I do understand that fully. But the motivation is a clear one. To protect people and to protect our hospitals.”

Routine

So let’s recap: inside a boozer eating chips, good. Running around doing cartwheels at gymnastics camp, bad. Very bad.

The Delta variant is here, but most of us are vaccinated. Let’s be clear – the restrictions are now about protecting our shoddy health service (you know the one where you also queue for 8-10 hours when your child breaks their arm) at the cost of our children’s normality.

At what point are we going to live with the virus? At what point are we going to ever going to allow our children get back to their normality?

It’s also reported this weekend that under the government’s other plan, which has yet to be given the green light by public health officials, all children will be able to go inside bars and restaurants as long as they are with vaccinated adults.

So let’s recap: inside a boozer eating chips, good. Running around doing cartwheels at gymnastics camp, bad. Very bad.

I am, of course, being pedantic. I understand too that covid and the restrictions are nuanced, complicated, and concerning to all. I don’t envy those who have to choose which industry survives or which group takes the hit.

But it doesn’t have to be the children. Not again.

They are not the vectors they were made out to be at the start of this wretched pandemic. Our carefully planned summer of camps and training and normality has once again has to be cancelled. The knock-on effect means many parents also will be unable to get back to work, usually carefully planned around those events.

Moving forward

This isn’t the emergency it once was. Let’s stop treating it as such. Let’s stop short-changing our small citizens. Their dance classes and art camps and science workshops and coding classes shouldn’t be so easily dismissed.

I’m tired of trying to straighten out the curveballs that keep coming their way. At some stage we need to accept that we now live with the virus, and stop being punished for the infrastructural sins of the health ministers and departments that went before us.

This isn’t only about cancelled camps, this is about getting on with getting on. And our children, those bewildered, amazing humans who’ve lost more than most, need to be treated with a whole lot more respect.