Thursday, 15 February 2007

In order

Tiger, Shark and Squirrel have a play date with En and Zee, San's two children. This is excellent. I can take a break from moving boxes and furniture around the house and spend the afternoon nattering.

I discover that San's doing just the same as me: new shelves, new boxes, new homes and new places to go for games, books, paper, pens, glue, jigsaws, cloth and dominoes. We can talk for hours about creating order in chaos, about having resources where we want them, when we want them. I see San's new shelves. Everything looks neat and ordered. Set against the chaos we've been living in, these regular shapes containing so many diverse things is inspiring.

Tiger, Shark and Squirrel are putting out a lot of screaming noise. Suddenly they're tearing around the house, chasing each other, with Shark shouting 'I must get the bucket!' She belts through the front room chasing En, who has his hands over his head.

San just laughs and we get back to talking about accessible storage options for pipecleaners, wiggly eyes and pom poms. Things like this are not just idle fill-in-the-gap stuff that schooled children might consume and dispose of in the meagre hours between school runs and school desks. These pipecleaners, wiggly eyes and pom poms are our educational resources. They're the practical items around which we'll be discussing the human nervous system; they'll be the planets Venus and Mars in a cuddly solar system; they are the craft activity that emerges from hours in the garden, studying a dead beetle or a bit of bark on a forest walk. And they all need storing. We have enthused conversation about boxes, margarine tubs and trays.

Then San's little girl Zee appears. She's leaving home. Even Zee's declaration has a sense of order about it, the pursuit of a goal with firm and calm purpose. I think of ours. When Squirrel's leaving home she shouts at the top of her voice 'I'm leaving this family!' then, red with anger, flings octopus in her suitcase and marches to the front door.

San meets Zee's declaration with an equally good sense of order and proportion. She's very calm and never once shouts out 'I'll call you a taxi!' like we sometimes do. Then, when Zee decides she might stay a bit longer, San says OK. It's all straightforward, and doesn't end with tears or broken toys. Me and San just get back to the subject of how to shelve reference books and store cloth and scissors.

Today has been like therapy. Everything has a place, and everything's in proportion. I'm keeping onto these thoughts when I get back to the chaos, noise, furniture moving and box-clearing. Thank you, San!

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