It’s time for dinner as my daughter arrives in the kitchen.
“Can you empty the dishwasher while we’re plating up?” I ask, not sure what response I’ll get because she looks as if she’s just woken up.
In case I was in any doubt she prefaces any further activity with, “I’m tired.”
Despite her weariness she opens the dishwasher and starts to put everything away, cutting in and out of the other bodies themselves pulling cutlery and sauces from cupboards and drawers.
After we’ve eaten I’m loading dirty plates back into the dishwasher and I notice two clean mugs sitting on the worktop.
“Aren’t these supposed to have been put away?” I ask her.
“I’m going to do it. I stopped to eat and I couldn’t get to the cupboard anyway.”
She rarely barks at me and it reminds me of a time I had a huge argument with my son about a mobile phone. Instead of soothing a situation which had caused him upset I was angry and made it worse, for both of us.
There’s no doubting I’ve been a liberal parent and I am sure there were times that’s been a mistake. But that’s how I was brought up and the only thing I wanted to cut out was giving them the feeling that they had to do what I wanted.
I often felt the unspoken power of my mother and it didn’t make us closer. It made me want to rebel and push harder against what I felt was the unfairness of not being properly seen.
My son’s girlfriend is filling in a questionnaire for medical students about their willingness to volunteer in hospitals should it be required in the coming months.
My son is teaching me how to land a helicopter in “Grand Theft Auto”.
“You decided not to go to the protest march today then?” I ask
“No, the social distancing was a bit of a worry,” he says.
I’m relieved they didn’t go, even though I’m proud of their passion for justice and equality.
I leave them on the sofa and go off for a bath.
Listening to a podcast with my eyes closed in the slightly too warm water, Malcolm Gladwell is talking about how civil disobedience is often a response to the inappropriate use of power and how we feel greater freedom to act constructively when we feel safe and have faith in our leaders.
I think about how we so often believe that having power is the answer to our problems, whether its power over our behaviours or emotions. In truth, what we do with our power is what matters.
Coming back downstairs the children have gone out to meet friends in gardens and, presumably, sit underneath umbrellas on such a foul evening.
Before they left they’ve tidied the kitchen, wiped down the worktops, and put everything away.