The applause and banging of pots will forever stick in the minds of kids watching adults get something in their eye each Thursday.
Jackie Bird Column
Of all the years of my childhood, the long hot summer of 1976 remains a stand-out. It seemed as though every day was blessed with sunshine, temperatures soared, tar melted on the roads and you could watch a soufflé rise on the bonnet of next door’s Ford Cortina. I may have made the last bit up but you get the picture. I was suffering a bout of unrequited love for Archie McCaig and those endless summer months following him around the local park are stamped on my mind. That, and the resulting sunstroke.
It’s a fair bet that 2020 will have made the same sort of lasting impact on the kids of today. Getting out of school will certainly have made its mark, and, if they play it well, will provide an educational get-out-of-jail-card for the rest of their lives. If they’ve got their wits about them this generation of corona kids will forever be able to blame any blip in their knowledge on you know what, especially during their highers which they will now sit when they’re 25.
Just as I vividly recall the parched grass and the vandalised water hydrants of the scorcher of‘76, 2020 has provided a range of new smells, sights and sounds for our children to take with them into adulthood. In decades to come a whiff of banana bread will transport a generation back to these strange days. Then there are the sounds that will forever be associated with this era: the buzz of the clippers as all the males in the family got the same haircut. Even the dog. I guarantee that the cacophony of applause and banging of pots and pans will forever stick in the minds of children watching a range of grown-ups, not usually given to shows of emotion, get something in their eye each Thursday night.
These were the weeks and months when you’ll recall your toy cupboard was suddenly stuffed with kitchen and toilet rolls; when washing your hands became a singing game and when Mum and Dad went a bit quiet during the news and didn’t let you watch. But you’ll also remember how they let you watch Joe Wicks on the telly and it was funny when you all joined in with his exercises. Dad was really good and jumped around a lot. Joe got a bandage, and eventually so did Dad.
It may have been a bit horrible that you couldn’t see the grandparents on your birthday and you had to shout through their window, but you all laughed when they tried to FaceTime. It was also the year you couldn’t go on a plane for your holidays and staying at home sounded a bit boring until Dad sold the car and bought a paddling pool on the black market. You made a tent in the back garden and stayed up all night eating barbecued sausages and mouthfuls of midges. Happy days…
We may have experienced a global tragedy and the future is still uncertain. But if our kids are shielded from the harsh realities of what is going on, this period of fear and uncertainty for us can actually be a bit of an adventure for them. I’m no child psychologist, but I know a woman who has spent years working with children in refugee camps. She brings toys and books to help them read and believes that no matter how awful the situation, children are able to escape their circumstances through care and play.
We are not in a war zone, but 2020 ain’t been no picnic and as an adult I’d have to search very hard to find some silver lining to this particular cloud. There will be children out there for whom nothing will cushion the heartache of the virus: they may have been ill or have even experienced the loss or serious illness of someone close to them. But for the rest? Let’s hope kids will be kids and they will look back on this extraordinary time with a load of bizarre but happy memories.