From The Guardian:
A new book by Greta Thunberg’s mother reveals the reality of family life during her daughter’s transformation from bullied teenager to climate icon
by Malena Ernman
When I was pregnant with Greta, and working in Germany, Svante was acting at three different theatres in Sweden simultaneously. I had several years of binding contracts ahead of me at various opera houses all over Europe. With 1,000km between us, we talked over the phone about how we could get our new reality to work.
“You’re one of the best in the world at what you do,” Svante said. “And as for me, I am more like a bass player in the Swedish theatre and can very easily be replaced. Not to mention you earn so damned much more than I do.” I protested a little half-heartedly but the choice was made.
A few weeks later we were at the premiere for Don Giovanni at the Staatsoper in Berlin and Svante explained his current professional status to Daniel Barenboim and Cecilia Bartoli.
“So now I’m a housewife.”
We carried on like that for 12 years. It was arduous but great fun. We spent two months in each city and then moved on. Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam, Barcelona. Round and round. We spent the summers in Glyndebourne, Salzburg or Aix-en-Provence. As you do when you’re good at singing opera and other classical music. I rehearsed 20 to 30 hours a week and the rest of the time we spent together.
Beata was born three years after Greta and we bought a Volvo V70 so we’d have room for doll’s houses, teddy bears and tricycles. Those were fantastic years. Our life was marvellous.
One evening in the autumn of 2014, Svante and I sat slumped on our bathroom floor in Stockholm. It was late, the children were asleep. Everything was starting to fall apart around us. Greta was 11, had just started fifth grade, and was not doing well. She cried at night when she should be sleeping. She cried on her way to school. She cried in her classes and during her breaks, and the teachers called home almost every day. Svante had to run off and bring her home to Moses, our golden retriever. She sat with him for hours, petting him and stroking his fur. She was slowly disappearing into some kind of darkness and little by little, bit by bit, she seemed to stop functioning. She stopped playing the piano. She stopped laughing. She stopped talking. And she stopped eating.
… Six months after Greta received her diagnosis, life has levelled out into something that resembles an everyday routine. She has started at a new school. I’ve cleared my calendar and put work on the back burner. But while we’re full up with taking care of Greta, Beata’s [Greta’s ignored younger sister] having more and more of a tough time. In school everything is ticking along. But at home she falls apart, crashes. She can’t stand being with us at all any more. Everything Svante and I do upsets her and in our company she can lose control. She is clearly is not feeling well.
One day near her 11th birthday I find her standing in the living room, hurling DVDs from the bookshelf down the spiral staircase to the kitchen. “You only care about Greta. Never about me. I hate you, Mum.” …
In school one day, Greta’s class watches a film about how much rubbish there is in the oceans. An island of plastic, larger than Mexico, is floating around in the South Pacific. Greta cries throughout the film. Her classmates are also clearly moved. Before the lesson is over the teacher announces that on Monday there will be a substitute teaching the class, because she’s going to a wedding over the weekend, in Connecticut, right outside of New York. “Wow, lucky you,” the pupils say. Out in the corridor the trash island off the coast of Chile is already forgotten. New iPhones are taken out of fur-trimmed down jackets, and everyone who has been to New York talks about how great it is, with all those shops, and Barcelona has amazing shopping too, and in Thailand everything is so cheap, and someone is going with her mother to Vietnam over the Easter break, and Greta can’t reconcile any of this with any of what she has just seen.
She saw what the rest of us did not want to see. It was as if she could see our CO2 emissions with her naked eye. The invisible, colourless, scentless, soundless abyss that our generation has chosen to ignore. She saw all of it – not literally, of course, but nonetheless she saw the greenhouse gases streaming out of our chimneys, wafting upwards with the winds and transforming the atmosphere into a gigantic, invisible garbage dump.
She was the child, we were the emperor. And we were all naked.
‘You celebrities are basically to the environment what anti immigrant politicians are to multicultural society,” Greta says at the breakfast table early in 2016. I guess it’s true. Not just of celebrities, but of the vast majority of people. Everyone wants to be successful, and nothing conveys success and prosperity better than luxury, abundance and travel, travel, travel.
Greta scrolls through my Instagram feed. She’s angry. “Name a single celebrity who’s standing up for the climate! Name a single celebrity who is prepared to sacrifice the luxury of flying around the world!”
I was a part of the problem myself. Only recently I had been posting sun-drenched selfies from Japan. One “Good morning from Tokyo” and tens of thousands of “likes” rolled in to my brand-new iPhone. Something started to ache inside of me. Something I’d previously called travel anxiety or fear of flying but which was now taking on another, clearer form. On 6 March 2016 I flew home from a concert in Vienna, and not long after that I decided to stay on the ground for good.
Anyway, then Greta takes up climate activism and her parents find that it is good therapy for her mental illnesses, so they are proud of her.
One theory of mental illness is that it’s a zero sum game: the more you offload your mental illness onto other people, the better you feel personally.
Another question is whether Greta is directly descended from 1903 Nobel Laureate Svante Arrhenius, inventor of the Greenhouse Theory, or merely related to him.
She seems to embody in her stunted form so many of the mental travails plaguing the 21st Century world. During the ongoing Crisis of Whiteness, Greta is the Whitest person in the world.