Well the schools broke up a couple of weeks ago, and despite being at home, we still had the usual outbreak of Endoftermitis. Symptoms include fatigue, overheating, extreme irritability, picking fights over nothing at all, emotional outbursts, and a point-blank refusal to eat anything except chocolate and ice lollies. But enough about me. The girls did all the things they usually do at the end of term –got up later and later each day, displayed less and less enthusiasm for any school work, and made loud and frequent announcements detailing all the ways in which their sibling was failing at life.
Nevertheless, we made it to the end of term! Like everyone else, we made it through four long months of home schooling where we all learnt an incredible amount. Nothing about Maths obviously. But lots about patience, plenty about pulling together as a team, and most importantly, how to accurately convey the message ‘if you do that again, I will kill you’ through the medium of mime, because Daddy is on a work call and we have to be quiet.
Since the end of term, there has been great excitement in our house. As some of you already know, my daughter wrote a poem recently for a homework assignment. She writes a lot of poetry anyway, but this time, one of the teachers sent it to a contact at BBC South East, and the upshot was that they wanted to interview her for a piece about how writing helps her with anxiety. And with visions of suddenly becoming the next Meryl Streep, my daughter agreed to do it.
Because of the current restrictions, we were told that it would have to be done in an outdoor space, and our garden would be ideal. This was clearly mentioned with the optimism of someone who has no idea that our garden is really just a polite word for the dog’s toilet. Officially, there is a place to sit down, but given that it’s on the very decking that my husband put not just his foot, but his entire leg and half a buttock through a few weeks ago, we decided against it, opting to assume that the journalist was not in fact suicidal, and would probably prefer not to take the chance. We chose the local park instead.
They sent through a list of questions they would like to ask. This was the moment my stomach dropped down to my feet (I was going to say knees, but sadly it’s already pretty much there). It dropped because I realised that some of the questions were for me, and that I was expected to be part of the interview as well.
I immediately rang the organiser and tried to get out of it, but was told that they wanted to show the viewer that my daughter had the support of her family. And apparently warm vibes and thumbs up signs from 25 miles behind the camera doesn’t quite cut the mustard, so that was that. Plus, I’d shot myself in the foot by spending ages reassuring my nervous child that there was absolutely nothing to worry about, and nobody would judge her harshly. So I could hardly turn round and tell her I wasn’t setting foot in front of a camera, just because I didn’t want to showcase the very obvious results of my lockdown overeating on local television of all things.
Eventually, the day dawned and we were well prepared. My daughter had spent a long time sensibly preparing her answers and practising saying them out loud. I had carefully spent all my time cursing every single Mars bar I’d eaten over the last four months, and wondering if we could postpone for just a couple of years until I could fit back into even my ‘big’ clothes. Finally I pulled myself together, realised it was her moment, and off we went. Unfortunately my husband was working (that’s his excuse anyway), so it was just me and the girls.
The journalist, who was also the camera operator, was very kind and put us at ease. She carried out a lovely interview with my daughter, and recorded her reading her poetry. I was genuinely blown away by how natural she was, and how articulate she sounded.
Then it was my turn. I took a deep breath, told myself that if a 13 year old can do it, then so can I, and I stepped up. Where I proceeded immediately to act like a deer in headlights, look at the camera despite clear instructions not to, and forget not just my answers, but my name and reason for living as well. And while I’m not 100% certain, I’m reasonably sure that I smiled cheerfully all the way through explaining how anxiety makes my child suffer terribly. All I can do is pray and ask for three words to come true, namely ‘cutting room floor’.
At the end, the girls and I were filmed chatting on a bench, with no sound. We were meant to be chatting animatedly about my daughter’s poetry, portraying a vision of family fun and solidarity. What we were actually doing was pointing at the sheet of paper with the poem on it with a fixed grin on our faces, and arguing over whether the ice cream I’d promised they could have afterwards would be a single or double scoop, and would there be a flake?
So the deed is done, and if you’re in our area, apparently it’s going to be on BBC South East Today on or around 12th August. And as soon as we switch the tv off, I will be looking at houses in Australia.
Or at the very least, saying Bring on Bedtime!