“She’s been watching Stranger Things,” I tell my mother.
Mum’s been asking after her granddaughter: my twenty-something daughter. She no longer lives at home, doesn’t often get in touch or volunteer much info about her life.
So I stalk her via Netflix.
In the past few months she has watched Breaking Bad, Mitchell and Webb, and a lot of Gilmore Girls.
There’s probably a way of translating all this: Mitchell and Webb means well and happy, Gilmore Girls missing home a bit, and Breaking Bad bored and in need of an adrenaline rush.
It’s not as simple and straightforward as a phone call, a ‘how are you?’ ‘I’m fine’ etc. This is the modern world; communication is electronic and involves a certain amount of spying skills.
My mother should know about this. In the past she may have been a spy or counterspy. We’re not really sure because she’s as unforthcoming on the subject as my daughter is when I text to ask how she is.
But I am developing my snooping-on-offspring skills very nicely without Mum’s help. I know when my middle daughter gets up in the morning because she starts liking things on Facebook. I am aware when my son stirs because I’m alerted to whatever he’s listening to on Spotify.
I also know how to get my own back, when necessary, by listening to really uncool music on their Spotify accounts.
“Spotify has told everyone I’ve been listening to Baccara.” Middle daughter is beside herself. “Why is it saying that?”
I mumble something about maybe having selected it on her laptop while I was changing her sheets.
“Seriously? And Justin Bieber? Now all my friends think I’ve been listening to Justin Bieber.”
There are worse things, in my book. But not in hers.
“But how is she?” My mother wants more news of eldest, something concrete and factual about what’s she’s been up to.
“I think she’s in Italy.” I offer.
I still pay her mobile-phone bill, and it yields clues to her whereabouts, but is sometimes wrong.
Last summer I thought she’d been to Albania but it was actually north-east Corfu. Roaming picked up Albania’s signal. (Warning! It costs a lot to make phone calls from Albania.)
“So what’s she doing in Italy?” Mum asks. “Have you had a postcard?”
How sweet. She may or may not have been a spy or counterspy, but she’s so out of touch with technology.
I have been using it, but without results.
I’ve phoned, texted, WhatsApped and Messengered. But none of these things have elicited a reply.
“I know how to make her get in touch.” Middle child has a cunning plan.
Daughter is in Italy, having too much fun to let her family know what she’s doing there, until I put the plan into action.
She’s straight on the phone. No ‘hello. How are you?’ she cuts to the chase.
“You changed the Netflix password.”
“Yes. And you called.”
Illustration by Joda, @jonydaga