According to various sources, you’re not doing lock-down properly if you’re not happily and simultaneously baking bread, learning Spanish, losing two stone and building an annexe for your house out of old yoghurt pots and dental floss. Whilst singing. However, our experience over the last week has been somewhat different.
On Easter Sunday I was enjoying a blissful lie-in, when I woke to the sound of my children arguing over whether I was dead or not. I called out to them and waited for them to rush in, overcome with relief that their mother was still breathing, if not functioning entirely on all cylinders. This was naïve in the extreme. The news of my non-demise was in fact greeted by my teenager smugly hissing ‘In your face!’ to her sister, and her sister replying in outrage that anyone would have thought the same if they’d seen the way I was lying with my mouth open.
Conversations about death never ever go well in our house. The last one I can remember, began with my youngest announcing that she had decided what she was going to wear at Grandad’s funeral. It progressed to me saying ‘that’s lovely darling but try to remember that Grandad isn’t actually dead. In fact, he’s not even ill’. And it ended abruptly with an argument because she refused to accept that nobody wears wellies AND a floor-length party dress to a funeral anyway.
More recently, my eldest piped up at the dinner table with ‘Daddy, guess what? When Mummy gets cremated, I’m going to have her ashes made into jewellery’. Trying not to think about the cheerful tone of voice, I considered this. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely idea, but I did have to question her choice, given the certain fate of every piece of jewellery she has ever owned. I didn’t much fancy being stuffed into a pocket, then going three times through the washing machine before being laid to rest somewhere in the abyss underneath her bed. Probably next to a screwed-up pair of knickers and a used fork.
Luckily for me, she had an alternative idea. She wants to turn my ashes into a tattoo of the word ‘Love’, where the ‘O’ is a sun because I always sing ‘You are my sunshine’ to her. I was quite touched by this. Although not for long, because judging by the look on my ten-year-old’s face, World War Three was not far around the corner, approaching at speed. She declared that her sister was ‘hogging everything as usual’ and why shouldn’t she have half of me to put somewhere? After all, she had that little china pot she had bought that time we went to Menorca, and it wouldn’t take a second to tip out the paper clips.
So the rest of dinner time was spent reassuring my children that of course they could split me into two piles and no, I don’t mind where on the bedside table I go, and yes it was lovely that they definitely wouldn’t pick their nose out of respect for me.
With the matter finally settled, we were free to enjoy the rest of the week and the beautiful weather, and think about happier things. Such as where’s my wine glass, and when can we ‘Bring on Bedtime’!