They were not still, they were not quiet, they were not defeated. They wouldn’t even know how.
They confronted their new world with a solemn acceptance of what is but an unwavering hope of what shall be again.
As they slowly lost their identities within the outside world they rediscovered their significance within their own four walls. They saw first hand the lengths their adults would go to to keep them safe and smelt the fear of the prospect of not being able to do so and in all of this they knew how much they were loved. And so they loved in return, they loved us, they loved each other. They didn’t always like each other, they didn’t always like us but this had always been so. They now understood how little it mattered.
They saw all of our flaws. How could they not? All of our fears, weakness, inabilities were laid bare. They found within themselves an innate ability to understand how ill prepared we were to be enough for enquiring minds such as theirs. But each tear, each outburst of frustration, each hug showed them that we wanted to be enough and that had to be temporarily enough.
They did PE with Joe, baked copious amounts of banana bread, watched too much TV and found new ways to communicate with those who reminded them who they had been, who they would be again.
As the year wore on the clapping muffled into the past. The Amazon deliveries became less. The splashing of paddling pools was replaced by splashing in puddles and they were gently teased with glimpses of the familiar that would often be cruelly swiped away at a moments notice.
As we approach the beginnings of a post covid world and getting back to normal will it become apparent that many of these little people had so briefly set foot on their life journeys that the ‘new normal’ of 2020 is in fact just their normal? They were robbed of experiences, of opportunities, of simply moments in time that they didn’t even know they were entitled to, that they were unaware should have been theirs for the taking. And yet here they are.
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet some of them very recently. In this unfamiliar and sometimes quite unnerving point in time where the world is beginning to emerge from black and white, almost into colour but not yet Full HD ready. I got to photograph love and family and happiness from a completely different perspective to the one my job routinely allows. And when I look back at these images I see no apprehension nor resentment, no anger, no grudges held. I see strength, resilience, unbreakable bonds and a few belly laughs for good measure. And I see that yes time did indeed stand still but there was perhaps purpose in the stillness and we mustn’t loose sight of this because they never did.