We have a saying in our house or at least, I do. It’s among my arsenal of things to say when I think my teenage daughter is stressing unnecessarily, or sweating the small stuff, usually about what people will think of her. It’s ‘What would Miranda do?’
To put this in context, my daughter is often stressing when she should be sleeping. It might go like this: everyone else is in a group for some musical performance and she thinks she is going to have to sing on her own and that will mean she is definitely going to die, or at least be bullied indefinitely. I lob her kindle at her (she’s currently reading Miranda Hart’s ‘Is it Just Me?’) and ask her ‘What would Miranda do?’
And she smiles. Because she knows what Miranda would do. She’d sing off key as loudly as possible and then bow. She’d probably dance too and definitely gallop. Whatever she did, she wouldn’t sweat it. Miranda Hart, bless her, is the perfect antidote to the excruciating self-consciousness of the teenage girl. And if said teenager is ever stressing about not having enough clothes or the right shoes, I refer her to the laws of Miranda Land, where citizens will be issued with three standard outfits (including a Party Kaftan) and only allowed to express their individuality through clogs- although any attempt at clog to clog comparison and clog bragging will be punished by enforced flipper wearing. Brilliant. She says this with no particular Socialist zeal, but just because it would be a lot less hassle. I’m pretty sure my daughter agrees deep down; that must be why she always tries to wear the same stuff as everyone else. It’s kind of a Teenager Government Issue, sponsored by Top Shop.
Miranda is also a pretty good totem for anyone who has ever worried about whether there’s enough stuff in the party bags, or if you’re at the front row of the Year 3 assembly, or if little Billy/Lily/Milly/Jonny isn’t in the top spelling group and whether that will damage their self-esteem. Once you’ve played ‘You’ve Been Framed Bingo’, it just doesn’t seem to matter anymore. As she says, ‘…never despair, and just chill the hell out about it all.’ (Is It Just Me?). She pulls all this off with one tiny trade secret: she doesn’t take herself too seriously. That’s not the same thing at all as not taking her comedy work seriously; I’m sure she does that. I’m sure she takes seriously her work for her charity ‘Spear’ seriously as well. But Miranda Hart doesn’t take Miranda Hart seriously at all.
There is a moment in her book where she describes having to sing and dance to a cheesy Christmas song at the end a seasonal special. Some global superstar is looking like they are going to experience death by cringing and finds it difficult to join in. The self-conscious but cool star looks at the singing, jiving, bopping Miranda and says, in a way that must recall so many stinging teenage memories, “You just don’t care, do you?” Miranda, confident in her ability to enjoy herself and not give a stuff replies, joyously “No!”
And that is what I wish for my lovely teenager: the ability to sing, dance and laugh on a natural high, and to stare down the judgers and the stressers and the small stuff sweaters and shout “No!” when someone tries to bring her down. So thanks, Miranda. You’re helping a lot.