Today I have been thinking about…pee.
In a house with two boys under ten, it’s all about the pee. Banning ‘toilet talk’ from the table doesn’t help with the other 23 hours. The word ‘butt’ reigned: until last week, when they graduated to the word ‘booty.’ I’ve gone to zero tolerance mode on the state of the toilet. If I arrive in the bathroom and it is not even up to my lax standards of cleanliness, that’s bad.
And last night I received the least favourite of night time visits – ‘Mum, I’ve peed the bed again.’
Stripping and griping, I wondered if I could squeeze out some positivity, along with the pee, from these experiences. Of course I can. Some people don’t get to have any children, and others don’t get to snuggle them into their own beds every night.
Imagine Esty’s childhood.
Prayers, rules, blessings before everything, thanking God. Sharing a bed, hardly any toys, endless chores. Father out studying or praying. Mother always busy.
No television, no cinema, no computer. Sabbath: no driving, pressing switches, tearing paper.
Glimpses of another life, so near yet so far. Are those people good or bad, sad or happy? Covert skimming through a discarded newspaper provides an inkling or two. Esty begins to envisage herself in that other world.
Escape. That’s the easy part. The months ahead will determine whether Esty can acclimatise to this new life. Can she ever feel completely at ease? Will Mark wait for her?
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‘38.4,’ Mr HB said. ‘Or three degrees higher than mine.’ We don’t really trust the thermometers in our house. ‘Should I cancel the babysitter?’
I was still on the train, a thread spooling back towards my family, normality.
At the doctor, half four the next day, it was 38.6. Then she found a non-blanching spot. ‘Just to be sure,’ she said. ‘I’m comforted that he’s alert.’ Plans were broken up and hastily remade into a different jigsaw.
The Royal Hospital for Sick Children is a twenty minute drive from my house. We arrived at half five. By six, we’d been seen, by seven examined thoroughly, bloods by half eight, discharged by half nine.
Today, I’m grateful for so much.
For the friend who looked after my eldest with ten minutes notice.
For the NHS.
For our good health.
For my boys.
The first line of a book can be as mouth-watering as a ripe fig, and you don’t want to finish it all in one bite. Here are some delectable examples.
The young boys came early to the hanging. (Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett);
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. (Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier);
Dennis Lenahan the high diver would tell people that if you put a fifty-cent piece on the floor and looked down at it, that’s what the tank looked like from the top of that eighty-foot steel ladder. (Tishomingo Blues, Elmore Leonard);
Four months to the day he first encountered the boy at Walmart, the last of Phil Pendleton’s teeth fell out. (Sour Candy, Kealan Patrick Burke).
And my offering: I wake on the beach and discover I’m naked. (The Second Path, Virginia King).
Today I have been thinking about…going.
Not across the eternal river, don’t worry. Going, generally, to that party, event, reading, gig; the one you had absolutely decided not to go to after all.
Yesterday, I wasn’t going. The kids were going to go with their Dad. I was going to use the time to work, those elusive hours on a Friday half-day.
But as they donned their outer wear, it pinched at me, so I decided to go. I was glad I did.
A community gathered, sang, celebrated, even selected one of their own for a special mention. My children wove in and out of legs to get the front. I knew everyone there, and I was so happy to see them. Lots of smiles and ‘hellos.’
Sometimes, you can gain so much, from shifting from not-going, to going.
‘Yes I’ll keep that date free, what’s it for?’
‘It’s tee bee cee,’ I say. ‘I don’t want to say too much.’
As a youngest child, I often forget that things don’t always go my way. I can remember realising that the world did not revolve around me, so I must have come to this key message very late.
But I’m in my thirties now. I’ve really come on.
Well. I’m getting there.
Then I’ll forget, and tell people something is definitely going ahead, before it’s cee.
And then, when it falls through…
If they ask, I’ll tell them. But this time it’ll be in the negative, like holding up those tiny films and seeing what was the picture, its colours washed out and reversed.
So I’m trying, instead, to say it’s tee bee cee. The most optimistic acronym ever.