Sunday, 11 January 2009

Salcey Forest

Hurray! To the woods again! And we don't even have a dead body to bury.

Nope. We are off to a guided history walk through Salcey Forest. Ancient woodland, Medieval hunting forest, possible route for a Roman road, site of iron age farmstead and maybe, just maybe, site of solstice and sacrifice, Druid magic and mystery.

And I took only Tiger and Shark with me. There was no fuss. Squirrel wanted to stay at home with daddy and build a radio.

Now as we set off, driving down the lanes to meet the ranger I thought how easy and effortless this parting had been achieved, with Squirrel's immediate No thanks to my question Do you want to come on the walk with me today? How her response was really that simple and it made me think how grown up and independent are my eight-year old, soon to be nine, triplet girls.

Because, once upon a time Squirrel, Shark and Tiger, one of you would have stayed at home and my heart would be torn in two. The reason one of you stayed would have escaped me. Perhaps it was because you had to tie a piece of string to the end of a cup hook in the kitchen and you couldn't do that thing, and you became more and more frustrated, unable to leave it and wanting to come away and join us all at the same time. But we couldn't wait for your little fingers to learn how to tie knots! The show started in twenty minutes, the place was closing, time was moving on, the train would leave, we needed to be gone. Then mummy would say something really foolish, like Come away! Quickly!

Then everything is ruined. There's no time to tie the string to the cup hook. It has to be the end of the world. We all press the nuclear holocaust button. Everyone is screaming and crying. Mummy slams the door in a mix of despair and firm resolution because the other two are sitting in the car waiting to go, so it's now or never. She drives off broken-hearted leaving daddy Dig with a miserable look on his face and his cute little kid surrounded by broken string and smashed crockery.

And today. Mummy Grit just says, Who wants to come on the walk with me? and Squirrel says No thanks! and Tiger and Shark pip up We'll come! and we just do that. And there is no fuss about that at all.

Once, to avoid that cataclysmic end of the world, I had to carefully plan all movement to the door, avoid all cup hooks, string, bits of hazardous material, dolly's plastic shoes. I would spend an hour or two managing that exit so we could all move in the same direction at the same time. A bit like an enormous single body with four heads. And if we needed to separate out that body we did so with intensive planning, calm voices, slow preparation and four hours of negotiation. Otherwise it would almost certainly lead to chaos, misery and the end of the free world.

People on the outside world have got used to the four headed being. But now they're going to have to get used to three children. Now my little girls are growing up and choosing for themselves whether to stay at home, or come do something else. At the moment, everyone comments on the body that's left. So only got two today? Have you lost one? Where's the third? Once I met those questions with sorrowful eyes, tales of grounding, or how we had to lop one head off and stick it on the end of a pole in the sitting room as a warning to the others.

Well now it's totally different. My little girls are growing up, independent. I can just say, Today, she decided to do something else.

Shark! Tiger! Get your wellys on for a medieval hunting forest,
the stony Roman road, the ditch and mound dug over by archaeologists
seeking evidence of an iron age farmstead, and all the winter trees and magpies.
And, of course, the playground.


Potty Mummy said...

Insightful post. Can't imagine reaching that stage and I only have 2 of differing ages...

Brad said...

Ah, the little lamb. She'll be asking for the car keys next.

sharon said...

It's always lovely to be able to leave one behind happily, so good that you are getting to this stage. Nearly nine, almost into double figures! And, no I'm not wishing the time away just marvelling at what you have all gone through to get this far. That calls for chocolate all round I think!

Jaywalker said...

I have a haiku for you

Advent disaster
Return smashed gin to sender
Happy Christmas Grit

Grit said...

potty mummy, i am secretly looking forward to the day they all decide to go off to parties and i can get into london with dig to eat a meal, visit the theatre and catch up on 20 years.


thank you sharon! i need no further encouragement regarding the chocolate stash.

you see jaywalker? it is the aura of doom i spread for miles around. i will shed a tear for the gin.