Still here and still contemplating what to do about this here blog. I don’t want to lose my archives, you see, but there’s no easy way (apparently) to extract them from WordPress format, so I’m sort of wallowing in indecision, all the while knowing that I’ve given notice to my hosts, and the day when I must make some sort of conscious move approacheth on swift wings. I feel I could justify spending money on hosting more if I was actually getting round to writing here more than once in a blue moon, but between being at work, doing freelance work, the various shenanigans that life with two under-fives bring and the vague attempt at having some sort of relationship with Quercus beyond the discussion of which dead animal has been left half-eaten under the kitchen table (a headless rabbit, most recently) and whether it’s possible for a washing machine to consume not one but thirty washable wipes (it clearly is) life is quite full at the moment. Added to that, I just seem to have run out of things to say, a bit. Somewhere in the last year, something shifted in my head, and I spent a miserable few months feeling horribly out of place and wondering if various of my past decisions had been the right ones. I think it was the combination of a long time spent working on our house (those longer-term readers will remember such delights as lime rendering and cob rebuilding, and the fact that ice ages have passed more rapidly) and the resultant miniscule time that Quercus and I spent together, conscious and alone, and the move from one child (oh, how I laugh at the ‘difficulties’ I once saw with just the one!) to two, and not having enough money, and the uncertainty of redundancy for Quercus, and just generally being a bit fucking fed up with being the adult and being the buck-stops-here person and wondering if I could just hop off the world and disappear under a large – or indeed a small: I’m not picky – stone for a while until sanity reappeared in some dim and distant future of which I could but dream.
Anyway, the result was quite a miserable me, and quite a miserable Quercus, and for a while I wondered if we would ever be anything but miserable ever again.
But fortunately, something has shifted once more. Now don’t go saying it’s the better weather because I heard just this morning on Radio 3 that the average temperature for March, April and May has been a stonking six degrees. But anyway, whatever it is, things seem to be on the upswing again, which is both hugely reassuring and deeply pleasing, not least as it’s Hero’s fifth birthday tomorrow (TOMORROW). Now just where the fuck did all that time go? There are buttercups in the field across from the house, just as there were the year she was born, and it seems only a few days ago that I staggered up the lane at snail’s pace (I believe the technical would be ‘heavy with child’, although I realise that I wasn’t that heavy, really, by most people’s standards, given that I was wearing normal jeans when I was seven months pregnant) wondering if it would ever end, and completely incapable of understanding quite how different life was about to become.
Anyway, tomorrow, weather permitting, will see a five-metre bell tent in a large field behind our house, with bunting and cake and bubbles and what will doubtless feel like half a million small children beetling about the place. Hero is almost painfully excited as her first year at school draws to a close; coming on the first day of summer, her birthday is the gateway to that golden time of school holidays and hay-making, of time lived more outside than in, of walks and wine-making and fruit-picking and hen-harassing and jam-boiling and paddle-pooling and living life as it happens rather than to the termly timetable. I am doing my best to enjoy this time, to embrace it, to realise that what she really wants is my attention rather than a homemade something-or-other (though there are trousers and a new bag for school amongst her birthday presents, and I hear from her grandmother that she tells everyone when she is wearing things I’ve made her, so perhaps in this, as in most things, it’s all about getting the balance right) and masses of Stuff, despite my natural inclination to throw Stuff at the situation. I have learned a lot about myself in the last year. I want to make sure I don’t forget any of it in the year to come.
In other news, we’re thinking of moving Hero to another school. The end of her first year lurches into view; the defining characteristic of her experience thus far appears to be frustration. She went into school desperate to read, but a combination of frankly boring books (the Oxford Reading Tree, the basic plots of which appear to be, well, non-existent, really, which, to a child used to Russian fairy tales and the doings of the Moomins, is a bit of a step backwards) and the constant repetition of sets of words appear to have dampened her enthusiasm somewhat, as has the largely pedestrian creative stuff they’ve done. Her one ‘big’ project this year seems to be the construction of a bus from a shoebox, which is lovely and definitely one we’ll be keeping, but still – one? all year? Hmmm. She isn’t difficult to get to school, and it’s certainly not a bad school per se, but something somewhere isn’t working. We’re going to talk to the teachers involved and to the head, just to get their perspective and see what a better way forward might be, but we also have irons in other fires in terms of a place at a different school. There are other concerns about that one, as with anything I suppose, in that instead of walking to school through fields of buttercups (and yes, I realise this is vomitously idyllic) with her sister, we would be adding several car journeys to our lives, which is obviously not ideal, and putting her in a place where friends would probably also be a car-journey away. But set against that is the possible reigniting of her… zest, for want of a better word. She just seems a little less, somehow, than she was, and the gradual accretion of phrases like ‘it’s not fair’ and ‘I’m telling’ and ‘I won! I won!’ and ‘Let’s put on a show of princesses!’ have done little to reassure me that this is the right place for her to really prosper, on a deep (and utterly wanky-sounding) soul level. I so want her to feel able to be who she is, and not to feel coerced into certain patterns of behaviour which, while they may be cultural norms to a degree these days, I don’t feel to be the best of starts. I also want to feel that the people teaching her, and spending such a big portion of her waking time with her, really ‘see’ her, for want of a better phrase, and who thinks that she is fundamentally a cracking little girl… instead of the cautiously indifferent yet somehow implicitly suspicious response she seems to elicit at the moment. So yes, fun times, my friends.
But let us not dwell on the shitteries of the educational world. Let us think instead of raw vegan chocolate cheesecake (recipe to follow), and of chocolate orange cookies (ditto), and of possibly the world’s nicest way to use cabbage (likewise).