I have one picture from my childhood. It’s summer and I am maybe eight. My brother and I are in swimsuits under the fig tree in our backyard, hugging and beaming at the camera. We look happy.
I was supposed to give the picture back to my mother, but that was 15 years, ten homes and a continent ago, so I think it’s well and truly mine now. I wish there were more–mostly for my kids’ sake. Instead, they have to make do with stories. For them, I bring up a movie reel in my head from then: our grey cat Antelope fighting in the alley, Ovid the bird who was a boy until she laid an egg, love notes from my Dad’s students in shaving cream on the front lawn, and barefoot chats with the neighbours over the back fence. It’s funny, the things that make an impression at that age.
I wonder what my own kids will remember of these moments. I watch as my youngest races down the backyard sidewalk, leaving stunned red ants in their wake, while my oldest practices handstands in the trampoline, shouting “Did you see that, Mama?” after every one. Will they remember the cartwheel lessons? The hunts for ladybugs in the front yard? Trips to the market for dumplings and purple flowers? Or masks and trips to the respiratory centre for yet another swab?
Yes, it’s been yet another day of tests. But we’re not in quarantine (at least mostly), the skies have been brilliant blue, and tomorrow, I think we’re going to go search for platypuses and koalas and eat ice cream. I can’t wait.