In the first instance, losing a parent catapults you into your future, bursting out of and shedding your youthful protective skin of the past and planting your feet firmly into the responsibilities of the present.
Once one of your main shields has gone, you have to make your own little shell home and move slowly and carefully into your new life. This tortoise pace also encourages you to keep looking painfully back and although our childhood is now tinged with a purple hue of sadness, it was ruddy brilliant. So inspired by the glorious Eddie Izzard’s words “Reclaim everything you enjoyed from your childhood”, we decided to relive it, not just through memories, but by peppering it into the present.
The first stop on our “childhood highlights express” – think of it like the Wonka train only happy and without centipedes – is netball (yes we are taking this quote VERY literally).
Back to the glory days of the Buckstone Primary School unbeaten team, with more team spirit than an American high school sitcom. Now it is a symbol of female unity, working together and the glue for life-long friendships, then it was the chance to wear nice white skirts and shout at people from other schools. So we have assembled a few of our mates and joined the local league, we shall be hailed the ‘Slammin Dunkers’, we shall have pints of Tennants at half time instead of orange segments, we shall replace our bibs for actual paper bibs from a lobster restaurant in town and finally we shall take it VERY SERIOUSLY. Quotes from the group include “Do we need to watch Coach Carter?” and “Can someone hold a meeting where we can all watch a video of the rules? I is a visual learner, you get me?”. Turns out one of the girls’ mums is a netball coach for nurseries, we might be alright! Game results pending...
Next stop on the runaway reverse train is hanging about outside chatting, in parks, doorways, shop fronts, from nine until 19 you name it we were there. We’ve been doing this a lot recently and it’s considerably more enjoyable now we like hot drinks and can judge clothing appropriately.
If we’re going to have constant, unnecessary chat, we may as well do it outside in an animated fashion, rather than via social media, right? Our advice for this “reclaim” would be to avoid other groups of youngsters as they think you’re spying parents and maybe add a bit of jeopardy that means that you can’t go home – the temptation is very strong.
Naps! Speaks for itself, under desk is a personal favourite, but sitting on a bus for a few extra stops/the entire bus run is also an option. We also tried sleeping whilst it’s still light outside, lovely to have it turned on its head when you actually do want to sleep.
This one is solely for Lisa, but she used to talk to herself as a child and has restarted it. She said it started off as a low hum, then progressed into vowels and now she’s properly wittering her stream of consciousness out loud like a six-year-old. She claims it’s clearing her head, it’s also clearing her walking companions.
Mixing random foods is the next station we are pulling into, back then it was hula hoops and ketchup and now its celery and peanut butter and banana and tuna pizzas, yeah you heard it! It’s honestly a mushy, tangy, protein-filled delight. We should never lose our experimentation with food, it does make you feel strangely mischievous again.
Kissing for fun. Whether it was up the back of the bus, in the corridors or at the underage disco, kissing was fun. Now kissing is for purpose, for gesture, through habit, or for something else.
Let’s get back to exploring our mouths, reporting back to our friends, asking magazines for advice and practising on pillows. Seriously.
And finally “play” is where this train terminates. We’re digging out our board games, tying lots of strawberry laces together, making models, bashing spoons around whilst washing up and generally suspending disbelief for an hour or so a day and letting the inner child have its time again.