We can’t even get a COVID test to prove we’re negative until day 11 of our trip. Today is only day 9 and we’re due to fly home to Melbourne on day 13.

That means no more trips to the beach. No more playing with cousins. Just isolation in the house, again. The Christmas scooters can’t be ridden beyond the front gate.

I understand why the WA government has done what it has done, but it’s broken my son’s heart.

After a year from hell, this Christmas family holiday was the balm to salve the wounds of a seven-year-old who, like so many, has ridden the emotional rollercoaster of 2020. As it has been for the 16,000 other Victorians who also headed West in the last couple of weeks.

Nothing washed away the trauma of the year we’ve just had in Melbourne like the saltwater waves of the Indian Ocean crashing over us this Christmas.

Now we’re in lockdown again, and we’re old hands. It’s our third, and this time will be by far our shortest. But it’s clear that the emotional scars of a horrid year of long periods of no school, no friends, and no contact with others your own age are still very raw for our little COVID-weary troopers.

They understand more about viruses, pandemics, and why it’s important to sneeze into your elbow than we ever did at their age. I am in awe of how our children have survived 2020.

Ryan Batchelor

I’d like to get angry and blame someone. The individuals, whoever they are, who thought the rules shouldn’t apply to them and sparked Sydney’s northern beaches outbreak. The government which acted too slowly to recognise the seriousness of these new cases. The government which acted fast and hard to lock down those of us from ‘over east’ and protect their COVID free status. But blame doesn’t work against this virus, and anger doesn’t help our kids get through this latest challenge.

So instead, we just give our kids a big hug and say we’ll be ok, we’ll get through it. Together, again.

Many of us parents have spent more time with our kids in 2020 than we ever thought we would, and we’ve witnessed the emotional toll of this pandemic on them.

I couldn’t be prouder of their emotional resilience through all of the ups and downs. Our kids have carried a huge load since our country went into its first lockdown in March.

Schools closed, opened, closed again. Cut off from friends, cancelled holidays, no sport, and not even playgrounds. All on top of dealing with their parents’ own emotional fragility, with our short fuses and bad tempers.

They also hear everything. We may not always register it, but every parent knows that kids pick up everything we say, and file it away somewhere in those big growing brains of theirs.

They understand more about viruses, pandemics, and why it’s important to sneeze into your elbow than we ever did at their age. I am in awe of how our children have survived 2020.

There have been a lot of people who’ve got us all through this pandemic – frontline workers, health professionals, scientists, shopkeepers, logistics. On top of all of them, our kids are COVID heroes for how they have handled this last year. We don’t acknowledge that enough.

As this terrible year draws to a close, our family is again spending it together in a house, unable to leave or see any of our family and friends.

Our kids are sad that yet again their worlds have collapsed around them and they can no longer do the things that make them so happy. But they are troopers and will soldier on.

For the rest of our short trip we’re making the most of backyard cricket, board games and just how remarkably resilient all of our kids are. And I am so thankful for that.

Ryan Batchelor is the executive director of the McKell Institute Victoria and currently on holiday with his family in Perth.

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