Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Two households

It's lunch and we're the second lot of visitors today who land in San's house. We're offered forbidden hoola hoops and great hunks of bread with salad. En and Zee, San's two children, nick too many hoola hoops, twitter about things like robots and pizza, and then Zee jumps up to run around in her knickers, mostly in the house but sometimes up into the street and round the cul-de-sac before turning back. San smiles and laughs and chides, all made of pretend-shocks, but filled with generosities and fattened out with happy good humour. And when the talk around the house is not of happy things, San meets it all with good sense and positive encouragement.

All the house is like San. There's an enormous word on the wall, made up all of photos: FUN. And that feels the rule, without it ever being spoken, at San's house. Here, it feels like the ground rules have been decided, all made up, safe, and we all know who we are, where we are going, and that we are all loved by someone. We just need to remember to show good sense, because whatever happens it will all turn out for good in the end, and we'll all be at ease.

A visit to San always helps and usually sends me back home with a glow.

We're back at the Pile by teatime. Here we are sloppy and disarranged and without clear lines or rules about any of us. So I promise to myself that I'll do better. Which is just as well.

Dig reminds me that he's off out the country tomorrow, so he's in a trouble about the airport unless we give him a lift, and the electricity bill has still not been paid and, by the way, Amanda, the girl from France who's coming to live here as an au pair but until when we don't know, is arriving on Thursday. So better pick her up. Oops, the flight arrives in the evening and the kids will be tired out and bickering. Dig says there's probably nothing he can do about that, just suffer it and anyway it's not a long drive.

By supper time today, Dig's taken Shark and Squirrel off to the last walk of the summer with the parks department. They're off to try the bat detector.

And I'm at home with Tiger, who's gone Kaboom! at departure time. The trigger? Shark had the bat detector, and Tiger wanted it. Shark and Squirrel and Dig are gone to safety and I've stayed guard while a whirlwind hit us and Tiger tore up her room, screamed and raged that she hated us all and wished she didn't exist.

After an hour she's calmed down and, sobbing, got into the bath, saying how horrible she is, and that she thinks she must be the worst person in the world. At this point, I know the rage is subsided, and the worst is over, so I can tell her that I think there are probably a few other candidates who've had sharper tempers on them than she'll ever manage, but I'm still yearning for a comforting order to settle on the house.

Which is why, at bedtime today, I've ditched the unicorn story for Tiger and I'm to be found reading the only thing I can put my hands on right now. The Unesco 1997 draft document Declaration of Human Responsibilities.

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