Self-isolation: Callum's story (age 12)

Updated on 26 March 2020

I awoke, rushing downstairs as I wanted to know the time. It was light outside so I knew I was late for school. “Mum!” I shouted down the stairs, “I’m late!” “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine,” she shouted back. I wondered why breakfast wasn’t on the table as usual. I ran back upstairs to collect my uniform. As I walked into my bedroom, I heard my brother in his room. I suddenly thought, why isn’t he at uni or work? I started to worry a bit but I was half way through putting my shirt and tie on so I put those thoughts aside.

The next moment filled me with worry though. My brother and mum came into my room, almost at the same time – it almost seemed synchronised. My brother leaned against the back wall of my room and mum was sitting by me. “Why aren’t you getting me ready for school?" I asked. “You’re not going to school, darling” she replied gently. “Yes I am going to school – you can’t stop me, it’s illegal.” I said, my head now filled with scary feelings. "So, you know how dad has had this bug for a little while..." "Yes," I replied. I knew something was up.


A difficult conversation

Sometimes we have these moments that we will never forget and, from the past, I knew mum's speech and her way of telling me something important. In that moment, I was left wondering why?, how? and is he ok? So many thoughts came to my mind. I needed answers. Then, in that moment, I exploded with questions to both of them. I became desperate and I wanted to know everything about the situation.

I think parents try to hide the worst from their children in situations like this and, even now, I haven't been told the whole story. I understand they want to protect us from being upset and worrying all the time but I think we should be told the full truth and that we should be able to understand what’s going on in the background of it all. I wanted to know more than just dad's ok and that we're not allowed to go out...

Then reality kicked in. "You're going to have to have some time off school," mum said, trying to hide the real reason behind all of this. But then I got the answer to my ‘why?’ question at least, "Dad's got this contagious bug," she said, "so we have to stay here and not pass it on to anyone." "What bug?" I asked. "It's just a new thing so they want to keep everyone safe because they don't know everything about it yet," she said, again not wanting me to know what it actually was.

The problem was that at exactly the time dad had got this 'bug', all my mates were talking about it and some people were joking about it. I then had to come out with it, I know that most likely they wouldn't have wanted to tell me that early on but I knew. "So you're telling me that dad's got the coronavirus?"

"Yes" she said. But I interrupted with a groan and covered my head with my hands. I was probably most worried about what my mates had been saying beforehand. Some of them even said you could die because of it in some cases, which made me more worried. I knew that my dad was feeling okay and that nobody seemed really worried about him. Even though mum and my brother were reassuring me, I still feared the worst.


Missing friends and football

As we had to stay in the house, I quickly started to worry about what to tell my friends and how to explain it all but all of us quickly came up with things to say to them. I would have much rather told them the truth and get it off my chest a bit. Also, it was weird how much I missed school and missed the people that I see every day. I wanted to be there and to be part of the fun and games, I wanted to share the laughs that they had together. I'm sure it didn't mean much to them that I was away – they just carried on like they usually would – but I don't like it when I miss out on things.

You feel like your best friends will become friends with others and won't want to be your friend when you get back. I think that was what I was worried about the most. Of course, I was worried if dad was ok or not but he had reassured me that he was fine so that allowed me to think about other things.

Then another reality check came. We really weren't allowed to go anywhere or do anything. I think I was almost expecting that it would be fun and games and that it would be normal, just without school. I overestimated what we would be able to do. I would have much rather gone to play in the local park and play football on flat ground but we couldn't, so I had to make do with 'looking at grass and water' as I said on many occasions that first week. I know I complained a lot but there were some funny moments too, like when my brother fell in the mud or when we would almost kick a rugby ball into the streams as we walked by.

As the days rolled by, we watched a few things on TV (most memorably Lego Batman, which was really funny and all of us enjoyed), which kept us busy for a while. Also my brother and I played on the Xbox quite a lot... probably too much but it helped us waste some time. Mum's phone was constantly buzzing, which kept her busy talking to all sorts of people and we had phone calls with dad before we went to bed.


The truth was that both my brother and I would have rather seen our friends and it made me think how all of us take school for granted and how we miss it when we can't go. Over the days, I became more and more tired of going through the same routine again and again because I didn't want to believe that I had to do what I was told. I wanted to show that, if I couldn't go to school, I could do what I wanted – that’s what I used as my argument to play on the Xbox for a few minutes more.

Read our advice for parents and carers and our article about staying mentally well while you self-isolate.