Dismantling Forts

Lola Dutch, in some ways, was made to give encouragement and give a pat on the back to the kids that are still enthusiastic and still on fire, and still curious about the world, and just say, ‘Look, here’s somebody just like you, and we love it, and we need more people like you.’
[Kenneth Wright]

unicorn

Photo by Inês Pimentel on Unsplash

This week’s epiphany: “I think I’m spending too much time dismantling forts.”

This is what I do. I dismantle forts.

I say, “This is not THE TIME for fort building”.

See also: This is not the time for dressing up, This is not the time for making things, This is not the time for reading, This is not the time for hiding from a hurricane or putting out fires. (I wanted imaginative children, the joke’s on me).

I spend the evening returning tiny lego pieces to the lego box, furniture into the playmobile house, separating dentist and school sets into their cases and binning googly eyes.  There are always so many googly eyes.

Imogen wakes early and plays quietly and purposefully.  Everything is opened and mixed in 2 seconds flat.

That’s not really true.  Everything is not mixed in 2 seconds flat. What is true is that Imogen plays quietly and purposefully.  Resulting in a purposeful mess.

(“A creative bombsite”: a phrase I sometimes use to warn my husband about the living room.)

What I really wanted, it seems, is children who would keep their imaginations segregated by brand and theme.

I want creativity to be one of the values in our home and the frustrating, and slightly embarrassing, truth is that I find this hard.  Tiring.  It does not come as naturally to me as I would like.  I would like everything tidy and quiet so I can have some Sharon-time later.

I listen to an interview with Kenneth and Sarah Jane Wright, the creators of Lola Dutch Is A Little Bit Much, on Readaloud Revival.  They are talking about giving kids creative courage – “if the parents just get out of the way.”

If the parents just get out of the way.

(Stop dismantling forts).

I hover and intervene when I should be giving them space.  I dismantle when I should be encouraging the build.

Making space matters, Erin Loechner says, in whatever way we can.  ‘Trading theories for wonder, criticism for curiosity. Kissing the precious plants and spotless sofa goodbye; heralding in an unpredictable mess. Swapping out a limited view of self care and allowing ourselves the surprise of something else. Giving up our cozy couch; receiving front row seats to a far greater show.’

I want to make space for creative courage, for forts and Princess Dogs and integrated play pieces.  An unpredictable mess.  A far greater show.

Advertisements

On Quiet Stubbornness and Messy Creativity

8793_Window_art

“Ok, but your teacher would like you start your ‘a’ here”  I say for what seems like the millioneth time in the last 2 years.

You know those girls who are really prim and proper? Who are precise?  Who colour inside the lines?  That’s not Liv.

It’s not just that her handwriting’s messy.  It’s not just that handwriting is not her favourite thing.  It’s that she’s found another way to do it!  She’s found a different place to start the letter! It’s that she has noticed ‘four’ looks like this in some books: ‘4’, so she has decided to write it like that now (said ‘4’ is formed with great care, in a sea of otherwise illegible numbers).  It’s that she LIKES CAPITALS! It’s that I look away for one moment and she has ‘accidentally’ written in her right hand! (She is entirely left-handed, “Woops”).

I feel her quiet stubbornness dig in, take hold.  I feel my stress levels rise.  I do not want to be locked in a battle with my 6-year-old about handwriting, but here we are.

Later, I sit down with my yellow writing pad and inky black pen.  I form my ‘a’ like a type-written ‘a’.  My ‘g’ has no tail.  I form ‘s’ from the bottom.  Random capital letters creep in, or go missing.  I don’t write on the line.  I don’t dot every ‘i’.  My writing slopes in inconsistent, ever-changing form.  Still, “start your ‘a’ here”, I tell my daughter.

*

Last year Liv had one of those ‘Craft’ homeworks – build an emergency vehicle with recycled material in the course of a week.

On a few previous occasions we had built the essential parts of her ‘Craft’ homework ourselves (“My daddy made it” she said, holding up her boat in p1) so I set my determination to find something she  could make completely on her own.  And I was successful.  I found a brightly coloured fire engine online made out of egg cartons and milk lids and straws.  The necessary paint colours were already in the art cupboard.

Every afternoon I set out her materials and told her which bit to paint, or stick.

She did it, but there was a quiet, persistent mutter about how she was making an ambulance, how she wasn’t taking the fire engine into school.  I ignored her.  The fire engine was going to look great, she would love it.  I didn’t know how to make an ambulance, we didn’t have the stuff.

I ignored her until Thursday afternoon when we had a fabulous, bright fire engine that she had made herself, but that she did not want.

“Can I make my ambulance now?”

She asked for an empty Tropicana cartoon and some yellow and green paint.  I asked if she wanted me to get a photo up on my iPad?  Nope.

“I know what it looks like.”

Of course there wasn’t enough paint and there wasn’t enough time but I had learnt my lesson, I knew – the orange juice carton with splodges of running paint – was Art.

*

There are more stories. The same story, repeated.

As someone who is drawn to the quirky and unconventional,  it’s a strange thing when I find myself inexplicably trying to iron out these traits in my daughter.

It usually means I need to watch Sir Ken Robinson again. ‘If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original,’ he says.

The girl is original, let her be original, I remind myself.

‘All children are born artists,’ Picasso said, ‘the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.’

I don’t want to be part of the problem.  Let’s not be part of the problem.

 


Photo by Marian Trinidad on CreationSwap

 

 

 

 

Busy Bees and Hummingbirds

‘When we decided to write benedictions for our children, we simply wanted to help them find their anchor when they are inevitably tossed about.’

[Osheta Moore]

It’s half-term, and I have finally carved out some time to write benedictions for my girls – a practice I have been inspired to adopt by reading Osheta Moore.  She writes here about Back to School Benedictions (and here about an equally inspiring twist on the original idea).

In the first post she writes about her own love of benedictions – of having truth spoken over her as she leaves a gathering so that she leaves knowing she is loved and confident that she is not alone.  She and her husband wanted this for their children as they went back to school – ‘a confidence in their belovedness even when they’re not with us’ – and so they created a blessing for each of them.

It is Autumn now, of course, and long past writing anything for ‘Back to School’, but over the past months as Liv has returned to school and Imogen has started for the very first time, Osheta’s practice has stuck with me.  I, too, want to see my children as they are, bless them, and send them on their way in peace.

My girls are still very little so I picked animals as their ‘Benediction names’.

I thought of Imogen – all business and focus, the pride she takes already in a job well done.  Eugene Peterson says ‘work, by its very nature, is holy’, and I want to bless the worker in her as she grows up.  (It’s tricky, I know, this trait is often hijacked by our culture into something unhealthy).  I also want our home to be her safe place, her soft landing place.

I bless you to be a busy bee at school – hardworking and helpful.  I bless your attention to detail, your lovely classwork and homework. I bless you to be like Nehemiah – a determined builder and rebuilder, who can work well with others who are good at different things.   I bless our home to be a place of rest and cuddles for you.

I thought of Olivia – dreamy, creative, inquisitive – happier exploring forests than sitting at a desk.

I bless you to be a hummingbird at school – curious and free.  I bless you as you spread your wings, as you move toward and sample all the things that interest you.  I bless your quiet confidence.  I bless you to be like Daniel – kind and considerate to everyone – but sure of who you belong to and what you love. I bless your inner strength.  It can be hard, sometimes, to be a hummingbird at school, I bless your ability to sit still and concentrate when you have to.  I bless our schedule to make time for climbing trees.

I hope my girls will feel affirmation and freedom as I pray these blessings over them, I hope it will feel a bit like the ‘invisible string’ from the book we used to read Liv when she was wobbly in P1, something that keeps us connected throughout the school day.  She still struggles with thresholds, with letting go, so I will keep praying that she goes in peace, knowing she is loved, confident she is not alone.

It will be back to porridge next week, after the Halloween holidays and our mornings are fairly predictable.  There will be this tiny blond boss-lady, dressed in 3 minutes, bustling around our house.  There will be another girl hidden under a duvet with her nose in a book, she’d like to stay there, she’ll dig in.  In the middle of our ordinary, messy mornings, though, I hope I take the time to bless them – to be busy, to be dreamy – to carry their gifts into their classrooms and through their days.  And later on, I hope I’ll make space for the blessings of tree climbing and cuddles, of caring for these very different little girls, of believing that it matters.

 

 

The Sisterhood of Crackpot Mothering

6338217467_5843e5a4ef_b

 

A free spirit. A wonderer and wanderer. Quirky. Day-dreamy.

These are words I often use to describe my 5 year-old, and now that I think about it, they are words that are sometimes used to describe me.

She is often the easiest of company. If she can take the world on her own terms, all is well.

But I noticed, early on, that she struggles with anticipation. She gets nervous if there’s a build up, if there’s fuss about something. Half-way through an expression of excitement she has changed her mind and doesn’t want to do it. She feels under pressure sometimes, when there really isn’t any… a kind of performance anxiety even when nobody’s watching.

September was tricky. P1. She developed a clingyness she hadn’t had before. She was one of those children who needed prised off their mum, finger by finger. But still, September of P1, that’s understandable, right?

*

It’s June now and since the middle of May she has, once again, needed peeled off me every morning.

This morning her Principal bent down and carried her in to school in her arms. They are so gentle with her. So positive and kind. Yet here she is on 1st June freaking out about going through that door.

The school office phoned on my way home. She’s ok. She’s settled. The Principal’s wearing her sun hat. She’s laughing.

Of course she is. I know she is. She enjoys school. But, yet.

*

Her little sister got baptised on Sunday and when I get in from the school run there’s a text from my mum.  She has sent a few since Sunday – texts that are careful not to make a fuss of me but that are checking in if I’m ok – if I have ‘recovered’.  She knows me.  The baptism was good, important.  Among people who are gentle and positive and kind.  But my mum knows me.  I freak out, sometimes, even in safe places, even in the midst of things that I want.

We joke, now and again, about the little triangles of pancake my mum produced a steady supply of in the run-up to my wedding.  She was well practised by then in the low-key art of caring for a daughter who feels sick when she’s nervous.  She just plated them up and left them quietly at my elbow, bite-size pieces of sustenance that would get me through.

Last night at bedtime Livi said it out loud: “I’m nervous about P2”.  It’s what I suspected.  It seems so early, so pointless, to start worrying about it now.  And yet, I get it.

*

I have described to friends how I feel like my intuition is broken these days, like I used to “KNOW” how to work with Liv, and now I don’t.  But I read this recently:

Intuition is not independent of any reasoning process. In fact, psychologists believe that intuition is a rapid-fire, unconscious associating process- like a mental puzzle. The brain makes an observation, scans its files, and matches the observation with existing memories, knowledge, and experiences. Once it puts together a series of matches, we get a “gut” on what we’ve observed.

Sometimes our intuition or our gut tells us what we need to know; other times it actually steers us toward fact-finding and reasoning. As it turns out, intuition may be the quiet voice within, but that voice is not limited to one message. Sometimes our intuition whispers, “Follow your instincts.” Other times it shouts, “You need to check this out, we don’t have enough information!”

In my research, I found that what silences our intuitive voice is our need for certainty. Most of us are not very good at not knowing. We like sure things and guarantees so much that we don’t pay attention to the outcomes of our brain’s matching process.

[Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection]

It’s a lovely idea that we might be wonderfully, naturally intuitive parents.  But it’s much more comforting to me that intuition is something I can go looking for, and remind myself of.

I have been doing that this week. I remind myself of my own nervous nature and how it hasn’t ruined my life.  I remember what it feels like to be cared for by an empathetic mother.  I read old favourite articles and books.  I take wise counsel.  I reawaken my instincts.

I started this blog post one evening and when I read it the following day the old gremlins were whispering – people will read it and think ‘Well of course Olivia has issues, her mother is a clearly a crackpot!’.  I told a few friends. They said: Me too.  Welcome to the Sisterhood.

*

My friend Tory told me a story this week about her son Noah at his nursery sports day. 60 kids walked out all completely fine, and in the middle of them, Noah, “walking along crying his little head off, upset and miserable.”  Everything in her story reminded me of Liv – how she could tell how difficult his first race was by the way he was running and the weird way he held his mouth.  Tory said so many wise things but among them this : “I hate that he cried at his sports day but I totally understand why he did.”

It’s not just going in to school that’s hard for Livi at the moment.  It’s been the Mayfair and her cousin’s play and swimming and church and choosing an ice-lolly.  I hate that she cries at these things she should love, but I understand why she does.

In my favourite parenting book, Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne calls it a “soul fever” when a child is being rushed along by too much stuff, speed or stress.  “Something is not right; they’re upset, overwhelmed, at odds with the world. And most of all, at odds with their truest selves.”  He advocates simplification – stripping away the distractions and clutter that monopolise our attention and threaten our connection.  “It’s about giving kids the ease to become themselves, and giving us the ease to pay attention.  To more fully develop, and to trust, our instincts.”

In an article I love about slowing down kids’ schedules, especially introverts, the author writes about how his 6-year-old son Felix “isn’t always cognizant of his needs”.  I have to deliberately remind myself of this.  Olivia isn’t cognizant of her needs.  She wants to do All The Things.  But all the things exhaust her, especially at the minute.

June is full of events and outings and changes in routine.  Each one seems like a good thing, but when Olivia anticipates what’s ahead, combined with finishing P1, it sends her running to the toilet.  So we have cancelled some outings, replaced them with things like ‘Chicken drumsticks for dinner’ and ‘Walking to the café for a bun’, and truthfully, even CBeebies on the sofa instead of ALL the time in the sun.  And she hasn’t complained like we thought she would, in fact she seems at peace with the schedule.  There is a certain kind of anticipation, is there not, in chicken drumsticks and a wee bun, that couldn’t make anyone nervous?

*

I have thought all week about Liv, about my mum, about my own anxious self.  Liv has wobbled and I have wobbled.  It’s Friday now and I feel like the quiet voice in my gut has got a bit clearer, and calmer.  She’s out of sorts.  That’s ok.  I can care for that.  And also, it isn’t everything she is.

We walk home from school on Friday afternoon and she sidesteps into the doorway of the old music shop to do this geeky dance to the music.

She always does that.

It’s one of my favourite things.


photo credit: Poison Ivy via photopin (license)

This is the girl, all cold and cross

‘And though she be but little, she is fierce.’

[Shakespeare]

My friend Patrick recently sent me a link to the met office’s list of future storm names. For I: Storm Imogen.  Yes, I thought, what a perfect name for a storm. But, also, hasn’t Storm Imogen already hit, many times?

DSCF7796

You turned 3 this month and you have been celebrating yourself like it’s your job. Your capacity for celebration matches your capacity for angst. You are ALL the Emotions. You are both/and.

birthday 3

It’s true, you can tantrum. You can huff. You can bear a grudge. You can give the most withering looks. When Storm Imogen hits it is loud, and a little violent. You stamp that right foot with indignation and your voices ratchets up like a crazy housewife (like your mama, I fear, when I’m not my best self). You are, we often say, a very eloquent cross person, very specific in your grievances. When you do not want to wear your coat on the Gruffalo trail and I tell you you can take it off in the car you stamp that foot and yell into the Colin Glenn: “I do not want to wear it in the Deep DARK WOOD!” You add syllables when you’re cross, as well as volume, your piercing, rising tone vibrating off the trees. When you do not want to wear a hair bobble at breakfast (you never want to wear a hair bobble) you yell in mounting disgust :”That. Hair. Bobble. Is TOO SPARKLY for me!”  (This morning, you simply insisted train drivers don’t wear hair bobbles, and that was that.)

You like to be charmed.  You like a little effort to be made.  You are open to bribes, deals and offers.  You’re anyone’s for a chocolate button.

You like to mimic the faces of the characters in any books we read.  Your favourite, of course, ‘This is the bear all cold and cross’, a posture you adopt away from the books, whenever it matches your mood.
DSCF7805

Your mood: both/and.

Both the stormiest, and the sunniest girl around.

It’s true, you can tantrum.  You’re that kind of girl.  But you’re also a yes please and thank you and sorry kind of girl.  A kiss, hug kind of girl.  A dancing in the supermarket kind of girl.  A laugh-until-you-choke kind of girl.  A merrymaker. A reveller.  A celebrator of life, and of yourself.

You have a fondness for men, particularly  butchers.  You bond with people, often, by roaring like a dinosaur.

It was BLUE day yesterday at your sister’s school.  As we got into the car Olivia said “We are supposed to Be Loving and Understanding to Everyone, but Imogen’s not doing it.” Ha.  “Well,” I replied, “Imogen is often loving and understanding, but she’s still learning, just like all of us.”

Said sister (victim to the violence) is mostly your partner in crime, your crazy playmate.  Although you have a very particular, practical kind of Arnold nature, it is curiously complemented with this wild imagination.  I wonder if your whimsical big sister has nurtured that in you?  You are often lost in other worlds, bestowing names and powers on each other, solving problems and mysteries and saving the world, all before breakfast.

That Arnold nature, though, has you doing 50 piece jigsaws, has you tidying up, has you noticing details I never would and figuring out how things work… it makes you physically capable in ways that are surprising for a 3-year-old.  I may recognise myself in your Mullan-face and your wild hair but your daddy sees you straightening everything up and thinks “That’s my girl!”.

That hair, of course, is commented on by everyone you meet.  You hate to have it touched or tamed.  That may change but for now it’s nice to have your company, wee frizz.

So happy birthday to our little boss lady, may you always find yourself worth celebrating.

DSCF7662

IMG_0427

DSCF7449

DSCF7405

 

Today you are you

‘Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.’

[Dr Seuss]

liv

“Are there elephants in Australia mummy?”, “What about rhinos?”, “Giraffes?”. You turn your porridge bowl around and ask me in turn if each animal on its rim can be found in Australia.

Then you make up your mind: “Yes, I would like to go to Australia on an aeroplane. Please.”

You’re answering a question Uncle Kerr asked you. Yesterday.

*

You arrived into the world with a large bump on your head where you repeatedly banged it for a day and a half trying to get out, a little left of centre.

Left of centre, your preferred position, still.

*

You hate baked beans and the dark and tidying up.  You love ‘psgetti’ and cocoa and strawberries and ramen noodles.  You love baking with your daddy and you love finger-painting more than any mummy-driven-craft-project I come up with.  You love the ‘No-livia and Papa Rexus’ made-up stories that you beg your Papa for (as long as he gets all previous details correct).  You love just one more book from Nana, just one more minute in her house.  “I DO like you mummy”, you told me to my amusement last night, “I just like Nana Beethie MORE”.

You love curling up in Papa Ernest’s chair and you love eating all Nana Berta’s treats.  You love running round and around the outside of their house and you love playing with you daddy’s old Fisherprice toys on their floor.

You love Jane from across the road and don’t leave her side when we go on outings together.  Jane knows what all the trees and plants are and the pair of you stop to look at all the insects and talk to all the dogs and to go a bit closer to the river than mummy lets you.  (In fairness, you and Auntie Jane are usually IN the river).

Your feet seek out every ledge or edge or wall or line on the road.  Your fingers touch every button, wall and surface.  You are always climbing and exploring, hanging off things that aren’t supposed to be hung off.

You make your raisins talk to each other while your porridge bowl cools, forgotten, beside them.

You notice the things in the distance and are often oblivious to what’s in front of you.

You take the scenic route, endless detours, even if it’s just across the living room floor.

You have an inability to hold your head still so we embrace the ‘messy’ style of plaiting, incorporating every twist and turn of your wandering attention.  You have the kind of hair I’ve always wanted, though, thick and smooth and taken for granted.

You have your daddy’s face, all your Arnold genes gathered in one place, while the thoughts and temperament behind it serve to thwart the Arnold modus operandi at every turn.

You love your little sister, your partner in crime.  You shared a room for 2 months in the summer until we acknowledged you have too ‘spirited’ a relationship to be roomies.  You fight, of course, but it is the shrieks of laughter that usually need investigated.  When you’re not causing destruction together you’re usually cackling and howling as monsters and witches, or calling out to each other dramatically: “Mama?”, DAR-ling!”.

You offer theories about everything you come across (why that car crashed, where that litter came from, why that thing isn’t working, who that person might be).

You unravel with too much choice, or expectation. “I’m not sure and “That sounds a bit tricky” are your go-to-answers when under pressure.

You thrive with a basic routine and wide margins in your day for wandering and wondering.  You love open space, and you love to be curled up at home.  It is the end of the world if you’re tired, and it always has been.

You are cautious, sometimes. You listen to your inner voice.  You are not a child that can be persuaded, or coaxed, or bribed.  You do things when you want to and when you’re ready and I guess I hope you always will.

*

Today you are 5 and last week I found myself googling in search of an old Huffington Post article – The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up.  I don’t think I’m ever going to stop saying it, daughter.  We’d never get to school.  But I’m trying to say it less and it reminds me, completely, to cherish you my stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of child.

It reminds me that I LOVE the way you are.

I love that you take your time. I love that you colour outside the lines. I love that you deviate from The Plan and twist the instructions and sneak your own rules in. I love your abstract questions and your zany sense of humour and your wicked little laugh when you’re really amused.  I love that, more often than not, I find you standing on your head.  I love the endless thoughts that fuel your chatter, and I love your Quiet.

I love that you are FIVE in so many common, shared, universal ways. And I love that you are YOU in as many quirky, not-in-the-text-book, still-trying-to-figure-you-out ones.

So Happy Birthday Livi-kins and in the words of our wise old chum:

we’ll go to the top of the toppest blue space,

The Official Katroo Birthday Sounding-Off Place!

Come on! Open your mouth and sound off at the sky!

Shout loud at the top of your voice, “I AM I!

ME!

I am I!

And I may not know why

But I know that I like it.

Three cheers!  I AM I!”

dr seuss

DSCF6738photo 3 (1)DSCF7521DSCF7420DSCF7509

Seasons, Changes and Times that Pass

allotment1

It is beautiful up here by the allotments. This place is something of a gift for the nervous mum and the curious toddler and the growing little girl. If you were going to start your day anywhere, it might as well be here. There are worse places to do drop-offs, worse places to stall your car manoeuvring, worse places to grab your friend Samuel’s hand and run off into nursery in your little purple sweatshirt.

Not that she needs her purple sweatshirt this week. This week’s weather has been something of a gift, too, for those of us whose adrenaline sky-rockets in September. It’s easier to adjust with this unexpected sunshine. It feels like a slow start to September – the last days of summer and the first days of Autumn all in one. I like slow starts and so does my growing little girl. It suits us that she can go to nursery school here by the allotments, here where she and her sister also go to daycare, here where they know her name. All there is to get used to is a uniform and a few extra days and so she savours them both, insisting on that sweatshirt despite the weather and asking please, double please, can she not go on Saturday too?

It is beautiful up here by the allotments, here on the gravel paths and on the stretches of grass, here among the flowers and the vegetable patches, the sheds and the rickety wire fences. It is beautiful in the sunshine and under the shade of the big trees. I want to wander and explore with my toddler once we have dropped Olivia in, but she turns on her heels every time and runs back towards nursery, towards daycare – slamming herself up against the door, crying bitterly that she can not go in today. Imogen does not need slow starts. She wants to be where the action is. Adrenaline is her thing.

I love the seasons, the actual physical, turning seasons and I feel ready for them, every time. I feel ready for leaves to bud or fall, ready for the warmth then the cold, for more light and long days and then always for the darkness closing in again. I love it when it’s time to open windows and I love it when it’s time to fill hot-water bottles and eat porridge for lunch.

But the seasons of life…the changing of routine and the turning of the calendar…I don’t ever feel ready for that. Like Levi (in Mel’s letter to him on his first day of school), fear and excitement run close and fast around my body with anything new, with any change or turn, even with any return.

I have learnt to be more accepting about this trait in myself, maybe even value it. I don’t despair of it in my oldest daughter do I? I see it linked to all of the good stuff that comes with being a sensitive person. And haven’t I learnt ways to make transitions easier for her, ways that keep her chilled and content? And aren’t I learning ways for myself? There are equivalents to opening a window or filling a hot water bottle that can help welcome a new phase, or bring a little comfort.

I have been feeling guilty that while all the mums on Facebook have been breaking their hearts about their children starting nursery, my main concern has been manoeuvring in the car-park and the lost possibility of pyjama-days. I have hated the thought of 2 more adrenaline filled mornings, rushing out the door.

Imogen and I drive away from the allotments and the scene of her disappointment. We go for sticky ginger cake at Browns. I realise that 9am-11am is now the opposite of 7am-9am. The day starts a little crazy, but here’s a gift in the middle, a few hours with just one child. I get nostalgic going to Browns, it reminds me of maternity leave with a baby, sitting out on that patio, reading my book. Of course today ‘The Rosie Project’ sits unopened on the table. Imogen is no longer a baby, she demands all my attention and scoffs half my cake. This in itself is a reminder that every single time and season passes. The bits we love, and the bits we are glad to see go.

I have started a gentle war in myself against the bit of me that can ruin a time or a phase or a season.  It is a war against nervous anticipation, against catastrophising, against comparison. I read that old saying this week: the grass is greener where you water it. I’m going to water September, water Sunday nights, water 7am. Shauna Niequist says that ‘daily life is still the best thing going’ and I don’t want to ruin it.

I finally get back to my book at bedtime and continue to laugh my way through it. I have been cheering Don on from the first chapter as his perfectly organised, categorized life is disrupted by falling in love. But as he sets up a spreadsheet to analyse the situation, I realise there is a bit of Don in me, too. He cannot determine the value of time spent with Rosie because “I was dealing with an equation which contained large negative values – most seriously the disruption to my schedule – and large positive values – the consequential  enjoyable experiences”. Don’s scientific, controlled mind struggles to make room for the idea that disruption could be positive. Sometimes my mind does too.

My mum sent me a text saying: “It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. There is a subtle change in the light and the air… Am liking September”.

It’s beautiful up here by the allotments and I’m a bit surprised to realise that I, too, am liking September.

Here’s to subtle changes and mellow fruitfulness, and maybe even a little disruption.

allotment3

allotment2

allotment4