Give and take.

When we left the house this morning, late and dishevelled as is customary, I was taken aback to see the heads of my beautiful daffodils in the tub by the front door had been picked. Three sad green stems were left waving forlornly in the wind.

Despite the fact I had foreseen this, despite the fact I had dragged my bulb and forget-me-not stuffed tub there saying, “some bugger will nick it” despite being prepared for countless acts of careless vandalism on my poor concrete front patch I still wobbled. My eyes stung and my lip wobbled. I could feel the gravitational pull of indoors and moved a foot back over the step. Zeph spying the danger signs and fearful of being late after having to coax a deranged parent out of the house with well rehearsed cognitive puzzles seizes my hand and the doors keys. “More flowers will grow Mum” he declares firmly.

The tide turns and we continue on our way. On the walk home from school I decide to imagine my flowers going out into the world with a stranger in need of yellow and beauty. I say to myself, “you are welcome to them person – I hope they give you much joy.” I try to banish bitterness and cynicism.

It is a bit tricky.

I let my self back into the house and have some Marmite toast while I do dishes and some of those tedious everyday things, washing clothes, floors, mould off walls and peanut butter off small faces.

We are meeting a friend for coffee in her lunch hour and head off to town. I avert my eyes from the beheaded stems as we leave and murmur my resolution. Bloody universe I think, aren’t you supposed to be the bountiful one?

I mooch around the bookshop waiting for K and eye up lots of lovely titles I’d like to buy. I miss my discount, mostly I miss my wages. I remind myself of all the books waiting to be borrowed in the library. K saves me from an unadvised splurge and we head for a coffee shop for cake and chat.

It’s lovely to see her, she has a heavy bag in her hand, “I was on the way to a charity shop with this and I wondered if you’d like it?” It’s a big beautiful book on Paula Rego who I adore. I’m so thrilled I’m slightly speechless – “Are you sure?” 

It’s a great hour – Ida is especially charming – she has her magpie eyes on K’s big enamel ring and slice of chocolate cake. We part promising to do it again soon and I start home, the book swinging on the pushchair. I stop to buy an apple from the fruit stall to placate Ida’s indignant squawking about not being allowed to walk. “How much for one?” I ask the man and he shines a red one on his apron and offers it to Ida, “a smile will do” he winks and she miraculously obliges. Immensely cheered we sail on home.

Small things but I feel answered and soothed. Coincidence placebo or not – I do not care. The book and apple buoy me through the rest of the day.

Zeph has a headache after school. I know it must be bad as he doesn’t even want to swim. We head straight home and sprawl on the sofa. I rub his forehead as Ida builds brick towers and spin a long story about two mermaids. It’s one I used to tell Zeph when he was smaller. It feels good fishing them out, dusting them off and sending them off on a new adventure. When it’s over Zeph wonders out loud what they’ve been doing in the long storyless interval. I wonder at how effortlessly metaphysical kids are. We notice Ida is drawing on the floor with felt tips. That, people, is where abstract thought gets you. Gah.

Best BT – tea turns out just right. Steve says how good it is twice. I smile modestly. Bloody littlewomanish leanings.


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