Friday, 25 July 2008


Of course I may have the suspicion that this cleaning is a displacement from saying what I feel or even acknowledging it, especially when here is a bit of floor that needs a sparkle. And that is, how sad and empty is this house without Shark.

In fact if I clean up this kitchen work surface here, I can just tell myself that I do not need to think about anything else, like whether Shark is quad biking today, and whether she is falling off that quad bike and is, at this moment, being airlifted from the side of a Welsh mountain, and then with this vacuum cleaner I do not need to think that the organisers have been trying to contact me on the emergency mobile telephone number, and how they haven't been able to reach me because I might have forgotten to turn it on, or I have left it under my pillow in the bedroom where it has been ringing and ringing for the last hour while Shark is in the emergency operating theatre.

And if I give these doors a wipe then I might not need to think about how Shark would say, if she were here, Mummy, have you noticed what an enormous presence I am in the house, even when you don't notice me and even though you managed to elbow me in the head last week because my head is at your elbow height and I have a habit of standing right behind you quietly when you do not know I am there and, when I speak, you jump round and manage to knock my ear off with your pointy elbow? Mummy, have you noticed how silent and quiet a reader I am, except with Tin Tin when I suddenly burst into laughter, possibly when Captain Haddock is shouting blasphemies at the empty whisky bottle, which is something that I have noticed that adults do and especially you mummy, at 11 o'clock at night when you have said everyone should have gone to sleep hours ago and I say in a loud voice that even though I know I have to get up at 8 in the morning for the workshop that I am still going to read Destination Moon one more time?

And mummy, have you noticed how full of attitude I am right now and how hard I have been working to justify your line of that child is aged eight going on thirteen. And have you noticed that if I don't like something I will aim that withering look at you, the one I have been experimenting with to see if it will kill plants and small furry animals, and it happens when I look down my nose and narrow my eyes, particularly after those things you say like Are you wearing socks with those sandals? And have you noticed how I can answer back now with such lip that I can send daddy Dig scuttling from the room, with his parting words something like And do not talk to your parents like that! when he is clearly just so dumbfounded at what I said that it must have been a really excellent answer-back line, probably as bad as a church blasphemy on a Sunday, so that's a line I'll try again, and next time, just to see what you do, I'll repeat it in public. With hand gestures.

And mummy, have you really noticed how much I can eat at one sitting, how many cut up bits of paper I can generate from one pair of scissors and a ream of paper in just five minutes, how loud I can make Tiger scream in the street, and how much I can provoke Squirrel at 7.30 in the morning so that you start slamming doors and waking up the neighbour who sleeps all morning after his night shift? And have you noticed mummy how much mess I can make on the hall carpet when I come in from the garden and forget to take off my sandals which are now platform shoes because they have a two-inch layer of mud and clay strapped to the bottom. And have you really noticed how bloody awkward I can now be about simple things like getting into the car, and how I stand there shouting in the street I cannot get in! when Tiger is sitting in there, because I know for sure she will start screaming? Have you noticed those things about me? Have you?

And I would say Shark, I have noticed them all, and more, and on Tuesday when I spoke to you for 15 minutes on the telephone to see if you had settled in OK at the nearest thing to a boarding school we could find for the week, and how when you spoke back to me my heart just leaped down that telephone line and I wanted to follow right after it and come out the other end and give you such a great big hug and say You are wonderful, my big, beautiful, grown up baby girl, how much I love you, and then when I asked Shark, Are you missing us, without a skip or a beat you said simply, but with possibly the hint of surprise that you'd been asked to consider this, you answered cheerily No! Of course not! and what's more, there is Madagascar playing right now in the common room so we have phoned at an awkward moment. And then I said well that is good my darling and run back and do not miss the funny bits with the scaredy lion, because do you know what? I am busy myself right now and I just have to go and clean some floors.


Frog in the Field said...

Shark sounds like the vampire!!
Just wait till she's really 13!

Irene said...

Right Mom, you've made that very clear, there is no mistake about that.

family affairs said...

Funny, I find the only time I furiously clean is when the children are away......Lx

Samurai Beetle said...

Someday, Shark will love reading this post. You have such a beautiful way of expressing love for your children.

sharon said...

I'm thinking that 30 minutes after you collect Shark at the end of the week YOU will be thinking 'What was I saying just the other day and WHY?!' Have to say I don't envy you their teen years one little bit. Perhaps a nunnery? For you if not for them lol!

Jonny's Mommy said...

You are such an awesome writer!