My 16 year old daughter has been the silent victim of this family’s experience of lockdown. I use silent victim loosely, as silent she mostly isn’t and victim is not the word you would use to describe someone who, on a daily basis sings her way around life; especially since lockdown was initiated. She has referred to this entire four months as ‘quarantine’, and has obliged without protest.
When I announced the lockdown to the children, her response was one of curiousness,
“are you telling me this is a situation which means I have to sing while washing my hands and I get to stay in doors and do nothing?
I said , “well yes basically.”
Her reply, “Oh my god this is brilliant.”
And indeed it has been brilliant to her. The fact that she has missed her GCSEs, which she has worked so hard for is irrelevant. Even her friends didn’t feature hugely at first. instead the silence that hung over the street she used to nurture the creativity which she has stifled to allow room for revision. Paintings, singing, papier-mâché,sewing,singing, drawing and er …singing all featured heavily. Mer – May; her and her best friends strategy to get through the month of May, allowed expression of her internal catalogue of mermaids , which she had apparently been housing for a rainy day. All 31 of them.
In short she has excelled at locking down.
The difficult bit has been accepting going out. Meeting friends at a distance was accommodated due to the local public fields vastness, making bubbling doable. But shopping in Primark? For underwear. Not such a relishing prospect. Underwear shopping is not high on her list of joys at the best of times but on this occasion it was met with bigger resistance, an eye roll and a sigh and a dose of teenage silence which coming from my daughter is a sign of definite uncertainty.
“It’s one of those situations where it’s best you are there”, I say , “And anyway we need to get you out”.
“Do we?”, she says “I mean do we?? Really???”
“Er yes?” I answer.
I assure her that this will be a quick trip and she has a mask (she loves a mask). “Won’t be a drama”, I assure her.
My daughter is a theatre student, she has her comfort zones and a list of essential places to go. In this new world the Primark undies section is not one of them. It never was to be fair but in an age of uncertainty she prefers to be on the side of er and quite honestly she says – “I don’t want to be you know seen underwear shopping with my Mum??” This I think is fair enough but I seal my persuasive spiel with, “No one will see us – we will be in and out in a flash.”
We walk and arrive in a very non-chalent fashion. We go to the underwear department.
Then she drops her water bottle, minus the lid, on the floor.
I think, ‘ok maybe not in a flash….’
She looks mortified.
“It’s ok”, I say we will tell someone and then we will get to the till.”
We both scan the department ; me for a staff member her for anyone she might know. She goes pink.
I hail a friendly looking chap who asks me where and looks at Sarah who goes pinker. He scurries off and I go to follow.
Well done come on then love – “I can’t I have to wait for the cleaner”, she mumbles.
“Ah”, I say. “Right”.
“Seriously Mum”, and she stifles a giggle. I smile and turn the other way.
People traffic is building Sarah is glowing and few minutes pass in what feels like about half an hour.
Then……in a loud impeccably clear voice the friendly guys voice rings out over the store.
“Can a member of the Sparkle team please attend lingerie there has been a spillage. Can a member of the sparkle team please attend Lingerie?”
People turn to look at lingerie to see what the sparkle team are attending to.
“Are you kidding me”, says Sarah?
She, infected easily by my reactions purses her lips and my smile spreads.
Another ten minutes passes before a member of the sparkle team appears and on the approach also smiles , not as we would like to believe in response to all this but because it is his job to literally sparkle. And so he does and we twinkle away to the tills and make our way smoothly out of the shop 45 minutes after we entered the store.
Feeling palpably relived we walk in silence. “In and out?” my daughter jokes. “I could not have written that,” I remark. At least we have the underwear.”
Perhaps her initial resistance is another characteristic of her generations better intuitive capacity , you know the same capacity which has been urged in us all to ensure that we don’t encourage another spike in cases of Covid-19. Its funny as the young have been cited as a potential reason for the rise in cases across Europe due to their apparent lack of control and a need to see friends. Reflecting today I wonder if i had listened, then perhaps we would not have spent such an unnecessary amount of time in an environment which could be reviewed as an unnecessary risk. Perhaps the response to “Do we?” should have been “well not really”.
It’s possibly, another example of how their generation thinks a bit more clearly. From issues ranging from the Environment and Race to the importance of underwear shopping in a pandemic – I think it’s fair to say , they win hands down.