Friday, 30 March 2007

Mellow Fruitfulness

Weather? As I gaze out on the autumnal mist, spring already seems faraway. Raindrops hang morosely from the railing outside the window and the birdsong sounds low and lamenting. The thermostat, casually flicked down two days ago has been hastily turned up again, but the house stubbornly refuses the radiators' advances.

It wouldn’t surprise me if it is autumn before the roadworks around the corner are completed. The entire road is currently an empty concrete tundra, pockmarked by watery hollows. That’s half a kilometre of prime London street. I wondered why and then saw a notice pinned to the metal fence, which emerges from concrete shoes like a beach windbreak.

“There is no work being carried
out at this time as we are waiting
for the concrete to set. This will take
approximately 5 days depending
on the weather”

So there you are. I’m sure they’ll be along shortly.

Perhaps it’s the newly bad weather that has affected my daughter’s mood. Or maybe it was just my insistence that she is always happy. Yesterday we went over to my sister’s for another family gathering - the baby is very nearly here and we all seem to want to experience the fragile ephemerality of these last moments. My wife was in the car this time with the curly-cornered A-Z (this was were I was going wrong last time I realized – it dates from the 1980s and so doesn’t show half the one way streets in London) and although I didn’t have any major directional problems we did have a few terse exchanges:

“Is it left? Is it left? IS IT LEFT?”
“I don’t know where we are.”
“You’ve got the MAP.”
“Yes but where are we?”
“Look at the map!”
“I don’t know the name of this street.”
“It’s on the MAP!”
“Yes, but WHERE?”
“PAGE 95 G3!”
“I’m never coming with you in the car again.”

On second thoughts maybe it was that that did it. Anyway later on, when my daughter was already tired she glimpsed her Easter present from my sister and husband and when we wouldn’t give it to her she started crying uncontrollably until she fell asleep on the journey back.

This morning she was still a bit weepy and not herself. It’s a lesson in the tenuous balance in children's emotions. She suddenly seems sad and frail and vulnerable. She’ll be over it by this afternoon I’m sure, but it reminds me I’m the one in charge, things are down to me, her happiness is not to be depended on.

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