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The 74-word tweet that sums up a child’s life during Covid

Zoe Smith speaks to The Royal Gazette about how her son, Tau, 5, has yet to experience life without the restrictions of Covid-19 (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

It was a heartbreaking tweet – 74 words that summarised the lives of many young children around the island.

“Covid started when Tau was 3, he is 5. He’s never experienced playing on the school field with other classes, sports day, he doesn’t even know other kids that are in his year (who are not in his immediate bubble).

“My child has yet to experience school! He only knows masks, hand sanitiser and social distancing. I constantly explain to him that this isn’t normal life BUT tonight really showed this is his life.”

It was posted by Zoe Smith, 31, last Tuesday – before the latest surge in the number of active Covid cases and the day before her son was due to start P1 at Somersfield Academy.

It worries her that restrictions caused by Covid may have harmed her son’s social development.

Tau, she said, used to be very social and never wanted to leave his friends while in preschool.

But she added that now, the pupil had become fearful of others and more dependent on her.

Ms Smith said: “He started back at school and they have an after school programme but he doesn’t want to attend because he wants me to hurry up and pick him up.

“He doesn’t go over to the next-door neighbour’s house any more and play because of our bubble.

“He’s very, very attached to me now and I think it’s because he’s spent so much time with me, and just me.

“I can just see him getting more introverted and that it not his personality.”

Tau’s mom added: “He’s very outgoing and very outspoken, but I can already see him forming a shell and that’s different for me to see when compared to the vibrant child that he normally was around everybody.

“He used to cry when I went to pick him up from nursery because he was having so much fun and he had a best friend, but I haven’t heard him use the term ‘best friend’ in a really long time.”

Tau’s immediate bubble, Ms Smith said, was this parents, his grandmothers and his mom’s brother, “Uncle Tre”.

She added that he eventually became comfortable with his classmates and other pupils in his after school programme, but admitted this took him some time.

Ms Smith said she was worried about her son being overwhelmed by “the real world” when restrictions loosened up and he socialised more.

She added that Tau had missed out on many in-person interactions that would have taken place during the pandemic.

Ms Smith explained: “He’s never had a play date that he can remember, he’s never had a sports day that he can remember, he’s never had a Christmas play that he can remember – it’s just little things like that.

“He’s just not interested in being anywhere besides in his bubble and I think that played a role even at his after school programme.

“There are different children in the programme and he’s been so fixed on his bubble that he is just comfortable with the people in his space.”

Ms Smith said that many of her friends had children around Tau’s age and all had similar worries.

She added that her friends’ older children admitted feeling as if they were “missing out” on their lives.

Ms Smith explained: “I have a teenaged goddaughter and she’s just missing the social part of school and interacting.”

She added: “The part of school where you create relationships with other people is missing because everything’s virtual or through video.

“The personal interactions with other people are starting to diminish, and I think with kids, if they’re born into a virtual world how do you teach them what’s normal when things open back up?”

Ms Smith said that she was slowly and safely opening Tau up to a more social world, which she added would be helped by school and his classmates.

She added that she wanted to introduce him to new environments to urge him out of his comfort zone and prepare him for a post-Covid world.

Ms Smith said: “I’m very blessed that his school is doing in-person learning right now, but it’s very strict.

“We just found out that he can’t take a school bag any more and as small as that may sound to adults, for him with his new knapsack that he picked out is a bit devastating.”

* Do you have a similar story to tell? Email news@royalgazette.com

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Published September 16, 2021 at 8:11 am (Updated September 16, 2021 at 9:23 am)

The 74-word tweet that sums up a child’s life during Covid

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