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" Until further notice "?

In this unprecedented period of containment due to the Covid-19 epidemic, children are no longer going to school "until further notice".

If this suspended time is an ordeal for all of us, it is particularly difficult for young children: how can we imagine time when it can no longer be counted and stretches without limit? We don't even know what day of the week we are because our lives are no longer regulated as they used to be by the beat of house/school/work, our different journeys and activities outside.

One girl I met the day before the announced closure of all the schools was very anxious: "But what does that mean until further notice? "she repeated over and over again. This is by no means a lack of "understanding" but rather something impossible to bear. This is what psychoanalysis calls reality: what is lawless, what falls on you, what makes no sense, what escapes you. It is as if we suddenly have to deal with an Other, capricious, all-powerful, unregulated, who decides everything as he pleases and who leaves us in great disarray in the face of the unlimited. 
So, how do you explain to your child what happens when you find yourself in the same situation as him, dumbfounded by what fell on you without warning? And how do you reintroduce a little temporality into all this? As we know, children love all the rituals that organize their lives. And what if one day we miss that one thing that's already fixed and he waits - because something unexpected has come up in the way? This will be the opportunity to tell him that you can't do everything and that you don't know everything. It's a great relief to them that adults miss things too!

Let's bet that instead of the absolute knowledge that there is no such thing as absolute knowledge, a small dose of personal invention will be able to lodge itself in this void. In this area, children show us the way. And what if these moments of surprise when we discover that we are different and rather inventive become our compass to deal with this new C.D.I., Indefinite Duration Containment?

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Agnès Bailly, psychologist psychoanalyst,
Member of the Freudian Cause School,
75010 Paris