900 days ago yesterday, my Things got on the bus for the last normal time. They bounded up the steps, grinned at me through the windows and waved, almost completely unaware, as we all were, of what was about to happen.
By the time they got home that afternoon, we had confirmed the cancellation of our trip to Vietnam due to start the very next day. Less than a week later, all the schools were closed and Circuit Breaker, as Singapore’s lockdown was known, began. It would be one of the strictest and longest lasting in the world. As borders around the world slammed shut, home-schooling started, and self-isolation to varying degrees began, experts debated how long the pandemic would last.
All in all
I think the kids in Singapore got off relatively easily. After those first 11 weeks of online-learning when, it seemed, everyone in the entire world was locked in their houses, our schools reopened. In the 2 or so years since then, we’ve only had four weeks of learning from home which, all things considered, doesn’t seem too bad.
School excepted, the lifting of Singapore’s restrictions was painfully. Watching people travel that first summer was hard (although tempered by not having Christmas cancelled). But it was nothing compared to the following summer when we were three months back into harsh restrictions and the borders remained closed, while the rest of the world (not all of the world to be fair), began to open up and to talk about a post-COVID world. Expats began to leave, unable and unwilling to stay in a place they couldn’t leave.
It’s hard to believe that was all less than a year ago. Since cautiously starting to open the borders (and by that, I mean just eliminating the need to quarantine for 14-21 days for certain countries!), Singapore has moved to a test free entry model for vaccinated travellers and the restrictions on group sizes were recently removed.
But the masks remained for all indoor activities, albeit with some exceptions for eating, drinking, exercising, and adults in office jobs (but not educational institutions). The kids continued to go to school and continued to wear their masks without questioning and without complaining (much).
Until yesterday, that is
Yesterday our new regulations came into effect and indoor mask wearing ceased to be mandatory. And so, it came to pass that the Things hopped on the bus yesterday along with thousands of others all over the island (it was a different bus – since the pandemic began, we’ve changed schools and moved house).
It just so happens that it was also exactly 900 days to the day since their last normal day. Next came spring break, and then lockdown.
This isn’t a post about how lucky we have been (it’s true, we have), or how much harder we have had it than others (also true in other aspects).
It’s just a post from a mama who had tears in her eyes yesterday as she watched her kids bounding up the steps to the bus and watched them grinning through the windows and waving at her, heading off to their first normal school day in 900 days.