A new home is a clean slate. A new house is even clearer.
We’ve kept the inside as minimal as we can. People often ask if we’ve just moved in – we have one picture up, and a vast expanse in the kitchen that I use for yoga.
We were less confident when it came to the garden – at first we just needed turf, because house builders will happily sell you a house with no flooring and churned up dirt in the garden. Then came the pond (thanks again Linda!). Today we’re getting some more slabs down. I have my heart set on a picnic table and one of those fashionable sail-type shades – Mr HB isn’t keen…
I’ve never been much of a gardener, but this time round, I’m grateful for the opportunity to make this space all our own.
I don’t think I’ve told you guys about my tadpoles. If you follow me on Instagram (@stella_hb) then you will have seen the precious babies (yes, this is how I feel about my tadpoles) on my stories.
We were naughty and ‘borrowed’ some frog spawn from a neighbour – you’re meant to wait for the frogs to come to you, but having realised (been reminded, thanks Linda) that our children were no longer of drowning age and dug the pond, I wanted tadpoles NOW.
I thought all the spawn had died in the late frosts, and then two weeks later – tadpoles! Everywhere! I visit them every day, take photos/videos, scrutinise them for the appearance of legs, and praise how fat they are getting (in a weird reversal of western beauty standards). I can’t wait until the pitter patter of tiny frogs.
When I think about ‘getting back to normal,’ I’m usually thinking about how much I might be dreading it. The exhaustion is the same as people who move country feel, going about what would usually be their normal business. I’ve not exercised my peopling muscles for so long.
So last night was a wonderful reminder of what I have actually been missing.
A peaceful drive into Edinburgh. A parking space I could fit into, for free. Warm weather.
Dear, dear friends.
A celebration of a birthday – one of twenty seven I’ve now been part of with these guys. Talking about every decade we’ve spent together and apart. No need to avoid topics like gender – we’re all on the same page there. Good food. Hugs – finally! Hugs!
Thank you everyone who makes me feel like I might like peopling after all.
The best thing about having a teenager is having to defend your own parenting decisions to an ungrateful compassionless apple-of-your-own-eye. Did I say the best thing?
The other day, my oldest asked why I let them do so much gaming. Apparently one of their friends had asked how my kid had negotiated this Elysium. For most of the week, unless they are eating or doing their jobs, they are ‘allowed’ on screen.
I’m negotiating for more ‘time away’ but I’ll have to exchange it for weekend virtual sleepovers.
You might be judging me here, and I don’t mind. I judge myself, too.
All my oldest’s friends are online. They’ve had a pretty hard time of it, even before lockdown. So I might feel bad, but I’m going to let them game. They are doing stuff they find difficult every day.
I’m not a gamer. Not really.
However, I make an exception for an obscure little puzzle game called Chain Cube. You bash cubes with the same numbers on them into each other, and then they make another cube with the sum total of the numbers. My current score is 12564886.
I’m playing it less now. In those cranky days of home-learning, when the children needed me there, not to teach, not to do it for them (probably because I said I wouldn’t), but just to be in the room while they worked. Sometimes I had to sit in-between their two rooms.
It was the perfect activity. I could always be interrupted – and was, always – but I wasn’t sitting staring at the wall, waiting to be told that this spelling or that maths was too difficult.
Thanks Chain Cube. Sanity saver.
It’s the launch of Pushing out the Boat Magazine today, and I’m reading my poem, Farmer, from their current issue. I try not to be a writer writing about writing, but after I really had trundled behind a load of manure wondering what it was all about, this happened:
Trundle a house-sized load of turnip-fragranced earth along the B6365.
Pile up shite in steaming heaps edged with frost.
Bring the cows in. Bring the cows out.
Leave fifteen sheep in a field full of cabbages.
Combine-harvest a field in the dead of night.
Bring the cows in. Bring the cows out.
Perhaps all work is, from outside, baffling.
Words put down in one order, shifted to another field,
the excess loaded onto a trailer,
carried with care along the B7476
as a line of cars trundles behind me, mystified.
Having trans kids requires a very particular kind of parenting. One of the things that happens – and there are A LOT of things that happen, not all of them are this good – is that (some) people tell me I’m wonderful.
I know! How very dare they?
Thing is, I don’t want, nor do I deserve, a medal. What, for accepting that my kids are who they say they are? I’d like to think, if you’re reading this, you would do the same for yours.
Yeah, maybe I go out to bat for them most days. Sometimes sticking up for them means I get hurt. Lose people I love, distance myself from others. But: I still get to walk around this world as a cis woman. My life is, and always will be, easier than theirs.
That’s part of cis privilege.
‘Do adults still say nasty things about me?’
‘I don’t know. Not to me, but I don’t see them anymore.’
‘Remember when XXX’s Mum said she wasn’t allowed to play with me anymore?’
‘Yes. I do. She was always very supportive. To our faces.’
‘Why don’t you like XXX anymore?’
‘Well, she said some horrible things about trans kids.’
‘What did she say?’
‘I don’t want to tell you. It’ll upset you.’
‘No it won’t. Tell me.’
‘OK. She implied that if you shared a room at a residential you would rape your room-mate.’
‘I’m sorry. It’s not true. Obviously.’
‘You’re also 11 years old!’
‘I can’t say the word I want to say. So I’m just going to mouth it.’
‘Sorry, love. I do try to keep you away from all this sort of stuff.’
If I have to do the weekly shop (which is Mr HB’s job, on the basis that ‘I spend too much’), I like to go first thing – I didn’t during lockdown, of course, as the early hours were a time for vulnerable folk to shop. Driving out the village at 6:20am always feels a little exciting – so much of my life is house and child-bound and yes, I might be awake early, but getting out of the house is another story.
It’s still our first year at the new house, so my spirits rose as I passed a tree in full blossom on the side of the A7. The Japanese have it right with hanami, a tree full of flower is something to take time over, celebrate.
Yesterday was Blossom Watch day. Grateful to be on trend, for a change.
The sun came out and
we were allowed to have people over in the garden and
they could be from another local authority area and
I made gluten free vegan brownies and
the kids played with nerf guns and
I hate toy guns and
I didn’t care and
I made tea and
Mr HB made coffee and
we bitched about stuff and
we did the crossword together and
we laughed and
we looked at the tadpoles and
the tadpoles are getting bigger and
they are moving around more too and
kids all played really well together and
later on we went down to the river and
it is really beautiful here and
today it is cloudy again and
I feel tired but it’s the good sort of tired and
I am so lucky to have had such a lovely day.