The norovirus is making its way slowly around the family. It took out my partner at the weekend and by Monday night it had moved on to daughter one who is currently mid-mocks. At the first sound of a groan, daughter two disappeared. She is the only person in the house to be virus-free up to this point, though my mum is holding out too since she was exposed at new year. I’ve been ringing daily just in case. I had to go out on Tuesday morning so I left daughter one with a bucket. Before I left I had a slight bout of technology rage as every page was taking three minutes to download. That meant I didn’t look in on daughter one, who was asleep at that point, and I got five minutes down the road before I started worrying that she might choke on her own vomit.
Since she had stopped being sick by around 7am I figured this was unlikely, but you never know. We live in an age of anxiety after all. I spent the weekend with my sister telling her how worried I was about daughter one hitting the spirits on her first outing to a nightclub before I realised I was talking to the wrong person. My sister was doing way worse at 18. I have lost all sense of perspective. This 18 thing is difficult to get your head around until you try to relate it to your own teenage self. Except that I was not doing a lot of alcohol back in the day. I was too busy trying to starve myself and going in and out of hospitals. Swings and roundabouts.
I need to try to control my anxiety about the world as I fear it is contagious, like the norovirus. I found daughter two watching a film the other day which seemed to be telling her that cheese was the equivalent of heroin. Apparently all scientific studies which don’t agree or are slightly more nuanced are funded by the dairy industry. It’s the whole MMR thing played out with dairy products. The problem is I am so brainwashed by the meat industry – even though I don’t eat much of it and exist mainly on cereal – that I cannot see this.
I’ve just read a fantastic book which is coming out soon about an American woman who grows up in a family which believes the end of the world is coming. The family doesn’t believe in hospitals or the education system or anything except the will of God. The woman educates herself, ends up doing a PhD in international relations and being disowned by the more extreme side of her family. The book raises huge questions about identity, family and, of course, education, about how education is about giving people different perspectives, widening their views and giving them the tools to be able to analyse information so that they don’t swallow conspiracy theories. The latter is something we urgently need in the internet age.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.