It was a couple of nights before the start of term two and our family sat together at the dinner table, chatting excitedly about all the things we had to look forward to this term and how different it would be from the previous one.
"I’m looking forward to wearing mermaid braids to school and doing after-school surfing," my eldest, aged 10, said.
"I’m looking forward to seeing all my new friends and my teacher. I love my teacher," said my youngest, aged eight.
My husband and I agreed that we were both looking forward to getting back some 'normality' in our working routines without the disruptions of COVID isolations and school closures due to flooding (we relocated to the Northern Rivers of New South Wales in late January).
Watch: Clinical and Health Psychologist Amanda Gordon talks about how you can help your children if they're suffering with anxiety during the age of COVID-199. Post continues after video.
We woke with an excited buzz on the first day back, primed and pumped to get into term two. The only slight blip (which I initially dismissed) was that my 10-year-old was complaining of a sore throat.
"Have a Vicks VapoDrop," I told her. We busied ourselves packing lunch boxes, brushing hair, feeding the rabbits, and keeping a close eye on the time so we weren’t late. I could almost taste the lick of freedom and space in my day.
Then it hit me.
The hay fever symptoms she’d had the day before. The runny nose and sniffling. The unfinished dinner from the night before. The going to bed without coming out 20 times. "I better test you," I said, still not thinking it would be positive. We had only just had COVID in January and had been told by our doctor the kids should be right for at least six months.
Pulling out the RAT test box, we went through the motions and watched the three drops of snot-infused fluid absorb its way through the testing cassette.
"All good Mum!" my daughter said. She went to brush her teeth as my youngest packed herself into the car. I popped back into the kitchen to grab my bag and happened to glance down at the COVID test again.
Two lines. F*ck.
Selfishly my first thought was, "I’m not going to get to bring that steaming hot coffee to my lips in peace and solitude at 9.30am like I’ve been dreaming about for the past two and a half weeks."
After hauling my youngest back out of the car, we repeated the test on my eldest and my youngest. It was conclusive - our 10-year-old had COVID for the second time in three months.