Highly Commended Story Winner
2021 Short Story Competition 

By Lewanna Pentecost

Day 1:

The child has chosen the day we aren’t allowed to leave the house anymore to transform with expert skill into her spirit animal, a mountain goat crossed with… One moment while I Google ‘noisiest animal in the world’… a blue whale (I also googled ‘can sound kill you’, and the answer is yes).

As we can’t go anywhere, we engaged in some wholesome sensory play at home. This edible activity involved oats on the kitchen floor, which the child set up herself while momentarily unsupervised.

Day 3:

The child practiced fine motor skills today. She was using the 100s and 1000s sprinkle container as a rattle. The great thing about a 100s and 1000s rattle is that it is a nice quiet rattle. Very colourful and interesting to watch too. Perceivably would entertain the child quietly for a few minutes while I made coffee. A few minutes more while I drank it while it was still hot, even.

Then I thought it’s actually a little too quiet even for a very quiet rattle. So, it turns out that these well sealed screw top containers have little pop open lids that little fingers are able to open. Yes. Duh. I hadn’t drunk my coffee when I gave it to her and JACINDA SAID TO BE KIND.

A feature of 100s and 1000s, perhaps one of the main features, is that there are well, thousands of them in a container (or not in a container anymore as the case may be). Another feature is that they are very very small. Smaller than the gaps between carpet fibres, for instance. I let the child enjoy them for a while. They are, apparently, quite delightful to stamp into the carpet.

Day 4:

I had the bright idea yesterday of saving the swept up 100s and 1000s to use for another activity. I decided we would do some water play in the bath with them. I had visions of colourful sprinkles slowly trailing their dye like beautiful tails while the child laughed with delight and gently splashed in the rainbow water.

That is not what occurred.

There are some things I had not considered:
1) 100s and 1000s sink. Immediately.
2) Do you know what doesn’t sink? Random fluff/bits of dog hair and dust that I also swept up off the floor. This forms a lovely film on the surface of the water.
3) The dye comes off the sprinkles instantly. It does not leave a Pinterest worthy rainbow trail in the water. It mixes together to make a very unappealing browny-yellow colour.
4) My mountain goat/blue whale hybrid child does not sit still and gently splash in the bath while laughing with delight.

So this wholesome activity was the child standing in what looked like old puddle water with bits of essentially dirt floating around her, desperately trying to scoop said water over the side of the bath while I attempted to restrain her and she yelled in protest. Beautiful.

Day 7:

The dog is doomsday prepping and obsessively hiding individual dog biscuits around the house. I tried to tell her that the supermarkets are staying open and there won’t be a food shortage and I even played her a clip of Jacinda explaining these concepts. The dog is very bad at hiding things. She spent 15 minutes ‘burying’ a biscuit in the duvet by trying to push the duvet over it with her nose while standing on the part she was trying to push. She seemed inexplicably satisfied after repeating this exercise 20 million times and wandered off. I put the biscuits from various places throughout the house back in her bowl. Except one. Because the child ate it. Google says it’s fine.

Day 8:

I have some regrets about my first lockdown supermarket trip. The aim is to not have to go back for two weeks or so. I diligently followed the shopping list. And then I got to the item on the list, ‘puddings’. And I thought to myself, we don’t really need pudding, it will be good to be healthy for a few weeks AND I DIDN’T BUY ANY. I should not have questioned the list.

Day 11:

Daylight savings. Does it even matter in lockdown? Can we just ignore it? Because I’ve worked really hard on the child’s sleep routine, I am now reaping the rewards. She normally wakes at 3am. Last night she woke at both 3ams. I am clearly a sleep expert.

Day 15:

Today’s wholesome activity was music and rhymes. I thought it was really important to adjust the words to reflect our current situation to help the child to process what is happening. We enjoyed the following:

-This little piggy stayed home, this little piggy stayed home. This little piggy stayed home, this little piggy stayed home, and this little piggy went wee wee wee wee and got coronavirus.

-Little Miss Muffett sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey. Along came a spider and sat two meters away from her.

-Jack went up the hill, then Jill went up the hill, because the path was narrow and they were respecting the social distancing rules.

Day 17:

The child, having been deprived of contact with other children and only being exposed to the dog, started playing fetch. It is an excellent wholesome activity to engage a child, especially if you throw the ball really far away.

Day 19:

Instagram advised me that it is a good idea to theme your days to help children to solidify learning and understand concepts. The theme I chose for today was ‘things mummy likes to do’. We experienced mixed results.

Drinking coffee and chatting went well. The child’s dedication to getting every last drop of fluffy milk out of the cup is unsurpassed. She just needs to work on getting those drops into her mouth. The child is also very good at chatting, and in fact will not shut up.

Biscuit dunking did not go as well. The child’s enthusiasm for this activity was admirable, but she struggled with the concept that you should only dunk in your own drink. Not other people’s drinks. Definitely not my coffee. She also struggled with the concept that you should not, under any circumstances, let go of the biscuit.

I like going to the beach. Obviously we can’t do this. But I made some edible sand. I ground up some oats and cornflour and LSC for extra wholesomeness. The child immediately tipped it out of the container. I was prepared for this. We were outside. I was not prepared for the dog being ridiculously excited about edible sand and hoovering it up. While I furiously Googled if dogs can eat LSC, the child happily enjoyed the wholesome sensory experience. Turns out dogs can eat LSC and bonus, the dog is going to have a luscious coat. The child ate precisely none of the edible sand, no luscious coat for her.

Day 22:

I know some people are starting to struggle with the monotony of lockdown life. Things are still super interesting at our house. No shortage of engaging activities. Just this evening we had a discussion about which of the child’s lion toys is the best looking. We disagreed. The partner went for the one that “looks more liony” apparently this was more important than its creepy misaligned eyes.

Day 24:

Children love bubbles. Ask anyone. I made the child so many bubbles, courtesy of blowing into a straw inserted in dishwashing liquid and water.

The child does not love bubbles. The child loves straws. After about a minute, she succeeded in stealing the straw and disappeared. I thought maybe it wasn’t exciting enough and added some food colouring. We then had to have a bath because I had very wholesomely turned the child a little bit blue.

Day…I don’t know anymore:

Today the child and I did some science with oobleck, the magic corn flour and water solid/liquid thingy. We both learnt some things.

The child’s hypothesis was that the white substance was yogurt. She learnt that while it was liquid as she poured it into her mouth, her mouth was then filled with solid, dry corn starch.

I learnt that when a container of oobleck is tipped all over you and the floor, it is a liquid and splatters everywhere, but when you try to mop it up it becomes a solid. When you go to brush it up it becomes a liquid again. Such fun we had with non-Newtonian fluids.

Day 33:

The eve of level three. Life is about to improve.

Day 34:

Turns out level three is level four but with takeaways. For today’s wholesome activity
I turned on the TV