Hi lovely girl, your life is nothing like Taylor Swift’s “Fifteen” and soon you won’t be fifteen. If one fine day you stumble across posts like this and Thinking Thirteen, I hope you like them. Unavoidable that coronavirus, though not a featured character, still appears in the backdrop of these stories.
Looking up to big girls
“Little girls like hanging out with big girls. They look up to them.” Last week in the car I was explaining to C why the young girl was so excited to be at the beach with her.
“Yeah, maybe you don’t notice too much of that because you always have a big sister around. Although when you were young you did try to make your hair long and straight like mine!”
“My hair is straight now that I don’t do swimming.” Then a minute later, “I admire your organisation.”
“Which organisation??” What organisation?
“Your organisation and focus when you work. And that you can plan things.” Sweet but surprising – she typically rolls her eyes when I try to get her to prioritise her assignments, or think through and plan tasks for the coming week.
“When did you see me at work?”
“When we were sharing a room!”
Ah, so it was a side-effect of school being closed for two weeks or so. It’s hard for children to imagine parents (or older siblings) at their jobs. But for a little while we shared the home office. I sat at one table and she sat at the other. Occasionally, she was dodging the webcam and my multiple wardrobe mirrors during teleconferences.
The preacher on Sunday was talking about conflict and forgiveness. He was talking about when “an issue becomes the issue”.
“Ooo, universal truth,” C comments.
The story goes that a few days prior, C was agonising over how to write a conclusion for her English assignment. The texts she was comparing had common themes of survival.
“Some people conclude with a universal truth. Like… people are survivors and will overcome. Or, we grow through struggles. A bit optimistic though,” I remark, “so think of your own.”
Optimistic like the narrative played over and over again that everything’s going to be okay. All the lovely COVID-19 story books for children about how things will go back to the way they once were, or that we will surely overcome… It’s nice to help children to understand what’s happening. But let’s not simplify the issue. How can everything be okay for families of the dead?
“How about this – in a dangerous situation you might survive? ” She offers. A bit grim. So we turn to S.
“Dangerous situations are dangerous.” Dang. Teacher won’t like it. Dad’s turn.
“Yeah dangerous means you have more chance to die,” says dad. “Lucky if you survive.” How’s that for a universal truth?