I worry often about what it must be like growing up today in a world of ever-creeping fascism, impending and already happening climate change calamity and endless financial uncertainty. I was at a meeting the other day on the future of Europe and a speaker was urging us to wake up to the potential disaster of Europe falling apart. Maybe I’m one of those catastrophists that people talk about, but I’ve been anticipating this for quite a while. I’m wide awake; I just don’t know what to do about it.
I do know, however, that throwing a bit more money into mental health isn’t going to touch the surface. Not that it’s not good to have more money for mental health, but isn’t a lot of this stuff linked up? Take the funding for schools. There’s a mental health crisis in schools. Not just the kids who are in school, but the ones who point blank refuse to go. Yet there was no additional cash announced this week – apart from a ‘little extras’ pot – to address preventing mental ill health in the first place.
I watch the teenagers. They are well aware of at least a few of the potential disasters facing their generation. Through their personal actions they are trying to address some aspects of these, for instance, by becoming vegans. Mainly, however, they seem to want to run away to a better place. I’m just not sure that better place exists and unless, of course, we are turfed out due to a no deal, it seems kind of irresponsible not to stay, though my partner feels much the same about the Catalan situation. I’ve spoken to a fair few American students in the last year – many of them doing amazing, positive things – and what really strikes me is their sense of duty to return and change things for the better.
Daughter two has taken to creating a better place in her mind. She was at a party at the weekend and was asked where she lived. A simple question, you would think. Daughter two said she lived “in a field”. She elaborated. The field was on a farm. We run the farm. It is an almond farm and she is in charge of making the almond-based milk. According to daughter two, the person she was speaking to believed her. In her mind she would dearly like to be running an almond farm, but unfortunately, we’re not there yet.
In the face of cold, hard reality, though, is it a bad thing to embrace an imaginary world? It doesn’t mean daughter two will not be wholly engaged in present and future struggles. She’ll just have her imagination to help her get through and to envisage a better world.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.