The doorbell rings somewhere above me, on the first floor (it’s a design fault). Outside, between the pub and the wheelie-bin stands a smartly-dressed estate agent, with the look of someone who has come to claim a prize, or is here to sell me something I don’t yet realize I don’t want.
I take him around the house, or rather up and down the house. It’s a sunny day and it looks nice; everything looks nice on a day like today. We tramp up the staircase, exchanging pleasantries, inasmuch as a smartly-dressed businessman and a hairy childcarer can trade their thoughts. We soon find ourselves standing in uncomfortable proximity at the top of the house.
“This is the room with the damp” I say, not adding that it was the room in which I rocked my daughter to sleep through her first dark winter. We move downstairs. “There’s a crack in this wall some people might notice” I point out, not mentioning the Boxing Day we once spent here giggling through games of charades with family and friends, during our only ever London Christmas.
I end up apologetically pointing out deficiencies all around the house. It’s lucky he’s not here on a viewing. At the end of our small journey together he sits me down. Suddenly he looks as if he’s going to give me bad news about a relative. I grip the table.
Instead he gives me a valuation which seems faintly ridiculous and I release my hold on the corner. I had been wavering over selling but this helps with the decision. Let someone younger than us enjoy the house and its charms. I’m sure they will come to love the damp patches, peeling wallpaper, cracking paint and dirty carpets as much as we do. More likely they will rip out our life and insert a shiny new one of their own.
He leaves me with all sorts of promises and an information pack. I decide to sit my daughter down in turn and talk her through moving. She sits silently for a moment then says quietly “I don’t want to leave my toys…” I tell her we can take them with us. She looks unconvinced. “But how do we carry them?” I tell her about the big lorry. “But we can’t take the toaster or the clock can we?” I tell her we can. “But who’s going to water the plants?” They come with us too, I say. I explain that it’s only big things that are left behind. “But what about the stairs?” she asks. “How will we go up if we don’t take the stairs with us?”
That’s not the least of our problems, it turns out. We also won’t know the way to various people’s houses if we move somewhere else. We will have a new address to remember. There are other complications. I enjoy her growing appreciation of the concept and talking her through it all find myself more and more convinced about what we are doing. I feel almost as if we have moved to our new life already.
Monday, 4 June 2007
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Wow! Are you leaving London?
For the summer I think, if we sell; and then maybe move outside London, or a greener part of town. We'll see what we can afford!
Well you need to move down here to the countryside and hang out with me: another stay at home dad, as I have a nice patch here and am enjoying being the only one I know round here. I have christened myself SAHD (Stay At Home Dad). Also I am the ying to your yang as my kid is a boy and living in the country (lots of great observational comedy on English village life!) I am just learning the ropes having only been SAHD for about six months but I am having great fun shaking up the local scene and making all the other dads feel vaguely uncomfortable !
Thought I was original too, silly me....
Only just started blogging. Wish me luck and stay in touch.
I like your blog.
here's mine only just started:
Sounds good! what does 'Garez vos fesses' mean? is it something like 'on your arse' ? can you go and have a look in my comments...
Give us more dirt SAHD, north, south? oh, are you moving up north to be near WITN and Rilly? This blog thing has really got to you!
Moving is stressfull for all concerned. My eldest cried on and off for months when we moved to France. It doesn't help that I felt as dislocated as her and also wanted to cry.
Good luck with the stresses of house viewings, etc, you have got the smell of sick out of the sofa haven't you? That might not be such a good USP.
I take it this means you are taking the advice to get out of London. Like the person you choose to spend the rest of your life with you will 'just know' when you find the right home for a growing family.
They will be fine. As long as they have their parents, it will be OK. I think we minded more than they did both times we moved....And I think there's a three-year rule - you never know somebody really well until this time is up.
Beautifuly written. Number 3 son is still adjusting to our 'new' house which we moved into in Dec. Though he does loves the view of the trains from his bedroom window!
Are you going to the country, SAHD?
Ah, out of the mouths of babes. When we last moved, my children were 3 and 2. We had to move to a friend's empty house temporarily while we tried to get the grumpy bugger out of our new house. My daughter asked why we hadn't moved the French doors with us. A tip: don't tell prospective buyers about the bad parts of your house. They'll find that out in a survey. Tell them the family bits, how at home you've felt in the time you've been there.
Hello Sahd! At least you have a dot in your url...
Best of luck with your blog and if you've been a sahd for 6 months then you are obviously a seasoned pro already. I will come and visit later.
Else, I'm not totally sure. I think it probably means park your backside or something...
Pig, west, if out of London; south, if in London. A shame as I'd like to have coffee mornings with WITN and Rilly... poor you, I know how tough expat life can be. Are you there only temporarily?
@TM, yes, perhaps, or maybe a leafier part of London. As you say, when we find a place we feel is right, that will make the decision for us..
OM - I think you are right in so many ways about having your parents.
Thank you DJK, and what a great present for your railway child.
M&M - as you can see, not 100% decided yet!
Wake up, yes, tip taken, although the ones we had around today didn't stay long enough for me even start to apologize for the vomit
ORRR, the innocence of youth. What a lovely blog to read, well written and very entertaining. Hope things will go well for you. I've moved so many times it'd be like a trip to the shops now. Although I don't plan on moving again unless I have to.
SAHD - you need to get Kirstie and Phil of 'Relocation etc' on the job to find your new home. As for selling your current house, don't let that 'House Vampire' Ann Maurice over your threshold - she will cover everything with MDF and paint it all in tasteful neutrals. Far better to leave the damp and the cracks and the smell of sick, and sell the house as a 'renovation project' to some wide-eyed idealist.
Why leave London when your little girl will probably just migrate back here anyway when she is old enough?
I grew up in the country and couldn't leave it quick enough I'm afraid!! Rachel Cusk has a pretty good description of the life of a parent of a toddler in the country in her book 'A Life's Work' when she descibes when they took a year out to live in the country - a warning to us all!
Thanks for the good wishes.
SAHD is located south of London and in a very well known village... in one of the more well to do home counties.
Anyway, about moving, as I am no longer in paid employment we can't afford to move (more of this later). Besides, Chez SAHD is 100 metres from the school which the princeling goes to in September.
Should I tell my wife to work harder and earn more?
Thank you CJ. We have been here for nearly ten years now, and there was a time it was our favourite place in the world; so it means something to move on...
DM - you're right, right, right. (What's that faint smell of camembert?)
Hello Scruffy mummy. Yes, I am always thinking about the boredom of country life for some children vs the welcome pace for their parents. Tricky.
Sahd - that is certainly one solution!
Don't ever forget that children must experience boredom to allow their imaginations to flourish.
Also, moving to the countryside just means you always have a houseful of other people's kids. I love it - they still all pitch up here and the eldest is nearly 25.
Best wishes on your move. It's often a tough decision but usually works out well in the end.
@TM - I encourage my daughter to experience boredom on a frequent basis! I do agree though. That's when the ceativity starts to appear...
Thank you Gwen. It feels like the right time, which is something at least.
I love moving. It's always a good time to clear out stuff and reassess what's important. Hope it all goes well.
'country life' is NOT boring. i think it's so important for kids to be able to run around in the fields, play with cows, breath fresh air, build dens, make rafts, eat blackberries, ride their bikes... blah blah blah. if they don't like it, when they're old enough, they can bugger off to wherever they like...
Thank TGW. Have you revealed your news yet?
Else, I am sure you're right up to a certain age but then through puberty there may not be enough to do. I have asked my friends and some were bored when younger and some weren't, so all depends really... I certainly don't find it boring...
PS. Play with cows?!
Hey, come to Suffolk! My son was very confused about moving when he was almost four. The 'moving elfs' who left little (really little!)presents in every room in the new house helped enormously.
I like the idea of the presents SM. But going from west to east might be difficult...
I find moving sad too and I am always full of child-like worries - I was even sad because we were leaving behind a pair of pigeons (yes, pigeons - 'Stout' and 'B-55').
Our latest move was a journey towards the complete unknown too.
So, Good Luck - ever onwards and upwards.
Thanks Debio. Love the pigeons thing....
You are moving house too? Wow. Talk about being cut off from the world if you don't have internet access for a week ;)
I can reassure you: all will be fine in the end. And yes, we also had the toys-in-truck-to-new-house talk. And the talk about how everything, absolutely everything would come with us. Imagine three-and-a-half year old boy pointing out every single item in the house and going "that too, mommy?" "Yes, hon, that too."
If it's in any way possible, I recommend taking your girl to the new house a couple times before the actual move. In our case, we were renovating the new house weeks before the actual move, and we took our boy with us on several occasions. We also let him pick the color of his own room's walls, and he saw with his own eyes that grandma and grandpa knew where he'd be living (they came over too).
Good luck with the sell (and the buy!),
the population pyramid for our area shows a virtual depopulation by people in their twenties SAHD, so your daughter probably will move back in a few years, although we are a little bit outside daily commute to London, although there are plenty who do that either weekly or for a few days a week. I think children and old people like the country. Anyway, hope it all works out for you
Thank you Rilly. Very nice of you to say. Yes, you're right. I don't know where old starts though. Possibly about 40 in this case!
Yes, Bel, but way behind in the process compared to you. Sounds like you worked it out perfectly and I can see the pointing now! Hope it goes well...
"How will we go up if we don't take the stairs with us?" -- that is the saddest thing I have ever heard.
Wishing you luck with your impending move. They can be hard.
Thanks Carrie. A good insight into a child's mind isn't it?!
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