Exams, covid and the fear of missing out - Janet Christie

Mum's the Word - Fomo or no go?

The Rebel Bear graffitti, Leith Walk, Edinburgh.
The Rebel Bear graffitti, Leith Walk, Edinburgh.

I’m worrying about the younger generation being traumatised by Covid, missing out on all those rites of passage – leaving school, passing exams, going to festivals, gigs, getting into pubs and clubs as I watch Youngest sitting beside me scrolling her phone.

“OMG!” she gasps.

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“What? What? Has someone got the virus?” I ask.

“No. Just FOMO,” she says.

“How can you have FOMO when we’re all NOGO?” I say. “No one’s going out.”

“No, that’s just you lot,” she says. “Old people. Older. Young people are out – socially distanced, obviously. Doing what we always did, walking round the park, talking, hanging out – we didn’t get into places anyway. And my friends are out so I need to go.”

“OK, but you need to be distanced, follow the guidelines…”

“Obviously Mother. And if we go to the shop for juice we have to wear masks, but that just means you emphasise your eye make up more than the lips. And the weather’s good...”

Hmph. “But what about all the upsetting things – the exam results thing?” I say, mainly out of badness.

“Oh yeah, loads of my friends are upset. I feel sorry for them. But it happens every year, people don’t get the grades and every year learns to handle disappointment. Exam results aren’t everything and some schools lose out more than others every year. Anyway, they're sorting it. Proves I was right to leave last year ‘cos if I’d done Advanced Highers, like everyone wanted...”

“Ahem.”

“OK, not you, but everyone. I’d have studied by myself online, got a prelim mark that might have been downgraded and I’d be raging. Instead I’ve done joinery and make-up courses, worked and earned money, decided what I really want to do and sorted a place to study. And the prom was cancelled...”

“I’m glad you’re not upset about things...” I say, thinking maybe just a little bit upset might be gratifying.

“No, my age are OK. And the results are getting changed. But I do feel sorry for your age people. You’re missing out – no pubs, no cinemas, no holidays, no Festival, no plays, no gigs...”

Make her stop.

“And you didn’t have so much time ahead anyway. Right, my friends are out. I’m going too.”

“Hold on. I’ll give you a lift. It’s not like I was doing anything and it’s a trip out. Who knows how much time I’ve got left...”

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