Lockdown diaries: What I’ve learnt as a parent with my daughter away

Vanessa and Lenore
Vanessa and Lenore

On Thursday afternoon, the 26 March, with just hours to go before the national lockdown kicked in my 18-year-old daughter, Lenore, phoned her grandfather and asked him to pick her up. 

Her phone call came after a day of agonizing over whether she should spend lockdown with me, or if she should head to her grandfather who lives alone and has been a widower for the past three years. 

Her decision brought up a multitude of emotions for me. I was heartbroken of course.

I hadn’t expected that I would go into lockdown alone. But I was also proud. My teenage daughter was showing me that she was ready to be an adult. 

Lenore is an only child. For most of her life, it’s been the two of us living together. The two musketeers.

That night I slept fitfully, feeling like the walls were closing in on me. Thankfully, as lockdown proceeded, that feeling disappeared. 

Modern technology has also assisted over the lockdown period. Every night Lenore and I check in via Whatsapp video call. This was meant to be Lenore’s gap year, after she matriculated last year.

She was meant to travel to Luxembourg to spend some time with my friend and then head off for the rest of the year to Nagoya, in Japan, to spend time with my brother and his family.

Covid-19 changed all that. Instead of travelling, Lenore is preparing her art portfolios so she can apply at several universities. I thought her lockdown will be filled with watching loads of Netflix and not much else.

I must admit, I’ve spoiled her.

I never insisted she learn to cook. I only recently started making her help keep the flat tidy. I never ask her to wash the dishes because well, I am a little OCD, and I only like how I do it. 

So, it came as a surprise when one morning, Lenore Whatsapp'ed her shopping list to me and asked me if she was missing anything. She also asked for my recipe to make one of her favourite dishes: lemon chicken pasta.

My child was growing up, and she was doing it without me, despite all the years of me being a bit of a ‘helicopter’ parent. 

Not only did she go off shopping, with her grandfather in tow, but she also cooked for the two of them. And he liked it. He now wants that dish every week.

Lenore also has to tell him that sometimes it is his turn to cook. Lenore, like most lockdowners, is now baking. Lenore is a real pro at making pancakes.

She has also had to take on the role of enforcer. Her 77-year-old grandfather has a penchant for wanting to go to the shops every single day. Lenore has now figured out to hide the keys. 

I can’t wait for the lockdown to end, just so I can hug my daughter tightly. I miss her silliness and her laughter. I even miss our little arguments. I also miss telling her to tidy up her room or make her bed.  

I hope that post-Covid-19, I will be less of a control freak. Being away from Lenore has taught me so much. I need to trust more, and also hand over more responsibilities. My child can manage it.

My ‘little’ girl has shown me that she is indeed ready to fly. 

I just hope she is ready to cook when she finally comes back home.

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