House-Swapping: It’s a Yes From Me!

We have been registered on a house-swapping website for a year or so now, but have never gotten on the horse and done the actual crazy thing yet.  Until this trip to South Australia.

It was a bit nerve-racking. It’s such an intense thing to do, open your home for another family to come in and live. Lots of people have made a horrified face when I told them our plans. (Hi Mum!) It is a bit full on. It forces you to up your lifestyle game. Stuff piles and junk drawers and broken handles won’t fly. We had to accept the fact that we lived like animals and create a new kind of reality.

We cleaned out all the cupboards and scrubbed all the corners. We made signs like ‘don’t climb this crumbling retaining wall!’ , ‘don’t drink from this tap!’ and ‘broken drawer: don’t open!’ We made notes in a guest book about garbage night and coffee shops and local doctors and wifi and electronics. We fixed the greywater system and the water pump and the toilet,  re-soldered bedside lights and repaired outdoor furniture. We sewed curtains and hung pictures.

Everywhere we looked, there were jobs to do.

It was nuts!

And yet, it was fine. I made a little pact with myself that I wouldn’t let it become stressful, wouldn’t let it turn into a kind of ‘my god, why hast thou forsaken meeee’ kind of drama. I decided to think of it like  investing in a fancy future. It was just a lot of work.

On our final weekend, Mum and Dad took the kids for a sleepover so Keith and I could go hard. He was the outside dog, I was the inside dog, and we didn’t stop for hours and hours – into the night, and through the next day. Packing, cleaning. Cleaning, packing.

(An aside – while I worked, I listened to all 13 episodes of the Charles Manson Series on the old-Hollywood podcast ‘You Must Remember This.’ This sounds so grisly, but it is, in fact, an amazing series that dissects the dark heart of the 1960′s. If you like true crime – were you a Serial fan? – this is the genre at its clever, complex best. )

Anyway, we finally made it out the door, and after a week’s outback road trip, we  arrived here in Adelaide, where we are staying in the house of a family who feel like a kind of Christian parallel universe version of Keith and I. They have kids the same age, and there are so many crossovers in the kitchen and around the place, except that they are very devout, judging by their bookshelves and art, and K and I are godless dirty heathens, judging by ours. They seem really, really nice.

And – hooray! – they are happy at our house, and we are happy at theirs. It’s been fantastic. I texted a picture of Keith at their piano when we arrived, and Chisty texted me a picture of Josh at ours. They looked hilariously identical – two happy middle-aged beardy dads. It’s a very communal system – we text back and forth – does this work? Where is the remote? Garden is watered! The house-swappers feel, weirdly, like friends we have never met, which I’m actually kind of comfortable with. I’m a blogger after all – I have a number of friends like that.

Now,  Keith is working again, and I am living out my home-school fantasies (Can I get a ‘Yes, ma’am!?’) (No.) We’re enjoying living life in a different place for a few weeks, and Adelaide is a lovely town. It would be financially impossible for us to rent a place like this for three weeks with actual Mickey Mouse money.  Instead, house-swapping operates in a sort of honesty economy – you look after our stuff, we’ll look after yours.  This place is amazing – near the tram line, ten minutes from town, and with a good coffee machine.  We even have a bike with a toddler-cart!  I’ve got new books, the kids have new toys, and the vege garden is producing dinner.

My friend Emma thought house-swapping sounded amazing. ‘What, so you just wear their clothes and everything?’ she asked. ‘No, Emma, ‘ I said. ‘You don’t just walk out of your own door and into every aspect of the other families life. It’s not Wife Swap. But I love you. Never change.’

House-swapping has been such a success for us that I can’t imagine holidaying another way now. Plus, we get to go home and enjoy the fancy house we slaved to create, and haven’t got to enjoy yet. Bonus!

We are Hitting The Road!

We are off for a month in South Australia!

First week: ROAD TRIP!!!

Happy holidays, comrades. See you on the other side!



Bookshelf: An Insider Glimpse Into the Australian Parliament

This week, as we stand by and wait to see how things unfold with the silver fox (for non-Aussie readers, we have a new Prime Minister)  I happen to be reading a really interesting book about the machinery of government.

James Button, son of the late long-time ALP politician  John Button, spent a year working as a speechwriter for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet during Kevin Rudd’s (first) stint in the top job. He wrote this memoir exploring that year, and his book is fascinating.

It’s a study of Labour Party history, an homage to his late father, and a peek into the vast, polite, obfuscatory and baffling world of the public service.

If you can’t stop watching coverage this week, or have a political animal with a birthday coming up in your life,  I loved this book. I feel like I understand a little more about the system we live under.

No more from me tonight: I am deep in packing, list-making and deadline-meeting. On Sunday we’re off for a month to South Australia, and I have to pull the house together for the family of house-swappers who are coming to stay. It’s a big gig!

ps – and just because it is wonderful….Jason Wood and his genetically modified orgasms, 2008.

pps – Chinese press have taken to calling Malcolm Turrnbull ‘sugar bomb’ and ‘sweet dumpling’. (!!)


Multiple Personality Mum

“I was a strict disciplinarian, perhaps too strict at times, but my God, without discipline what is life?” – Joan Crawford.  Making normal parents look awesome for the last seventy years.  Cheers Joan!

 This post was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, August 2015

Before I had my first child I read a squillion parenting books. They were not that useful for the reason that none of them were teaching me how to parent my specific child. The Book Of Peanut would have covered theatrical, emotional, hilarious daughters. I could really have used that book. But the Book Of Peanut would still not have helped me when number two and number three children came along.

Eight years into this parenting caper, I’ve realised that all my children have a different mother, because they all need different mothering from me.

Little Peanut has always been fiercely independent and sensitive to the social atmosphere around her. Yesterday I had to talk her through the process of cleaning the rotten banana out of the bottom of her schoolbag. I insisted that she do it herself, but from the theatrics, you would have thought that I’d requested she clean out the flue of a Victorian chimney.

It was a drama, yes, but it was also massively comedic, like her flamboyance always has been. Mothering Peanut has always meant helping her process and make sense of life – judging when to step in and when to step out. I’ve got better at it as the years have rolled by.

My 6 year old son T-Bone needs another kind of Mum. He’s always been a thinker, a bit of an eccentric. He’s so bright in fact that sometimes he’s like a big brain on a stick, not tuned into his body at all. He needs a lot of really physical mothering from me. As in, walking him through every step of getting dressed. As in ‘you’ve put your undies on over your pants again, darling’. As in, holding in the Mother Rage on a school morning.

The thing with an affectionate boy-child is that there is no gold in the world as precious as their cuddles. They are just glorious. And chances are I will have them for a long time – in fact, sometimes I imagine T-Bone on a podium in thirty years, accepting the Nobel Prize for physics. And there I am, doing his tie.

Pudding, three years old and my third child, is easy like a Sunday morning. She’s funny, chatty and up for anything. If the house is full of big girls, she’ll loom-band up a storm. If her brother has a friend over, she convinces them to play ‘My Two Dads’. (So modern!)  With me, she’s my car-buddy, my shopping companion, and totally happy to watch re-runs of Friends over lunch. She is so easy to mother.

These days, I try to find time in the day to narrow in on each kid at some point. I p6lay Mums and Dads with Pudding, read the Treehouse books in a cuddle-puddle with T-Bone and play the ‘Walking Game’ with Peanut. This is our latest thing. She stands on the piano stool which makes her slightly taller than me, we put our arms around each other waists and pretend to stroll along, having a ‘grown-up’ chat. ‘Hey, let’s go see a movie! What shall we see? Mad Max? You can buy the coffee, I’ll drive…’  For independent little Peanut, pretending she is eighteen and hanging out with Mum is as good as it gets.

There’s still ten years till we get there though. It’s a long game, this learning to be a Mum. I feel really privileged to get to play it.

PS – Winners of the book giveaway announced on this post: Anxiety and the Post-Baby Conversation.

The Heartbreak Of Being Human

This week I have been listening to the BBC World Service Daily Commute podcasts in my safe and comfortable house, as I wonder whether I have enough bread for sandwiches and where I put the hairbrush. I’ve cried as I have listened to the stories of the many tens of thousands of refugees streaming into Germany and Austria, and the efficient Germanic machine that swung into place to feed and process and transport them all.

photo source)

Hundreds of  Germans waited to greet refugees at the train station, eager to show them a rousing welcome, and to volunteer to help with the incredible logistical task of managing this great tide of people.  It was so incredible moving to read and hear about.

The shared  anguish felt by so many  when that photo of drowned toddler Aylan was everywhere, inescapable, somehow set off this groundswell of compassion. It was a choir that drowned out the fearful and racist shouting that sometimes claims all the air, a choir so large that it  forced the political machinery to act. There was an incredible sense of shift, of the essential goodness of humanity taking centre stage for once. For once, the best of us, rather than the worst.

I felt wretched as Tony Abbott finally conceded that he would increase the Australian intake of Syrian refugees, but only by tinkering with the numbers, and not by opening our doors to more.

Today, I am so pleased to hear that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has announced that we will take an extra 12, 000 Syrian refugees on top of our normal asylum-seeker intake. Hooray, government! In this moment, we are part of a compassionate response. Thank god.

I feel compelled to record the happiness I  feel in this moment, because it will be fleeting. Our home-land response to aylum-seekers remains despicable, and the deeper problems of wealth disparity and the great shifting movements of displaced people are  defining the 21st century. It’s hard to know where this will lead next. There seems little hope of an effective political solution. We’re extending our military commitment in Syria, along with many other countries. So the wars continue , and the refugees will keep coming.

At least, this week, the voice of compassion shouted louder than the voice of fear.

A Bookshelf post on trying to understand terrorism.  (I feel like I need to go back and read The Looming Towers again.)

This short film, so moving:

And this poem, ’Home’, by Warsan Shire 

 ”no one leaves home unless

home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here”

We are warm and safe in our beds by accident of birth. Sheer,  dumb, incredible luck. May we never forget that.

This Is My Brain In Chinglish

Last week I came across a news website that had reprinted my Golden Door diary, but only after running it through the bizarro-meter. On high. 

Remember that Friends episode where Joey uses a thesaurus to write a love letter, exchanging every simple word for a fancier one? 

I’ve been Tribbianied! 

This is almost my favourite ever thing to happen to me. I cannot tell you how much joy this piece of absurdism brought me. I tried to send it to a couple of friends but the link broke. So in case the internet eats it, I thought I’d better reproduce it here so I have somewhere to go if I am ever having a bad day. 

Here it is: 

My three tiny children keep me flattering busy. What with cleaning a blood off a trampoline, using a brief sequence kitchen, and negotiating, each night, whose spin it is for a ‘Cuddle Me’ hot-water bottle, it’s uninterrupted movement around here. we also work part-time and juggle that many tedious and common of all ailments: a bad back.

Recently we was given an impossibly inexhaustible gift: a week-long stay during a health shelter to keep my heavenly crony D company. She’s a Mum too, and going by critical health problems. For both of us, this week was an complete 360 grade about-face exit from genuine life. Here’s my diary.


Driving adult to a commanding gates on a property, D and we are anxious. We feel like we are self-surrendering to some kind of minimum-security jail farm.

In a dining room we are served a initial ‘clean’ meal. No sugar, no caffeine, no gluten, no preservatives, no alcohol, no salt. we make a masturbation fun that we bewail slightly. It’s a nerves.

When we see a villa, we die: a bathroom! At home, a tiny tolerable shack, we have one lavatory with a composting dunny. While we bathe, children broach prolonged monologues about Harry Potter and protest about who ‘smelt it’ and who ‘dealt it’. Here, we have my possess bath, my possess shower, my possess toilet, and a TV that swings around to be watched from any or all of these perches. It’s paradise.


The day starts with tai chi during sunrise, and rolls on into yoga, massage and a uninterrupted shouting with D. It feels wonderful, yet all we can consider about is coffee. Coffee coffee coffee. Coffee.

At dinner, a whole list has a headache: a deep, pulsation mom of a thing. The staff tell us it’s sugarine withdrawal. ‘I keep meditative about this extraordinary cheesecake we had once,’ says R, wistfully. She describes a cake in amatory fact while a rest of us listen avidly and bucket adult a gluten-free, caffeine-free, preservative-free, sugar-free and taste-free dishes with chilli and pepper. We splash herbal tea by a bucketload.

I dream we am trapped in a Scientology compound.


My conduct is still pounding, and now my sinuses are fasten a party. we confirm to check out a steam room. Once inside, we spend fifteen mins respirating energetically yet my nose before we notice a ‘on’ switch beside a door. Winning during life, again!

In a afternoon we have a one-on-one event with a dilettante practitioner who helps me consider by ways we could improved organise, reason and pierce my body. I’m shaken going to his villa for my session.

“What if he Bill Cosby’s me?” we ask D as we leave.

“Don’t splash a tea!” she shouts after me.


A concerned wheeze travels around a dining room.

“There’s dessert tonight!”

Yep, we have been successfully institutionalised. We all puncture in, yet then: a tinkling crash. Across a list from me, a lady looks up, horrified. So eager was she in her office of a rhubarb pulp that she pennyless a glass.

My headache is left and we realize what a surpassing rest my mind is having. In bland life, using a tiny association of a family, my mind hums with to-do lists and menus and carpool arrangements. This week, I’ve sealed down all those tabs, and my physique and mind are resting deeply. we feel myself slipping into a state of unknown calm.

Serenity now!


I boyant into a dining room during breakfast time on a cloud of mellow. I’ve practised tai chi, taken a cardio category in a swimming pool, sucked behind a litre of H2O and filled my lungs with frail morning air.

“How are we feeling?” asks my list partner C.

“Great!” we say. “I’ve got no pain anywhere in my body.”

And then, we explode into a inundate of tears. we startle myself. we startle C. She gets adult and gives me a hug. (One, two, three, now it’s awkward.) All this assent seems to have liberated adult a lot of feelings. My face leaks during visit intervals. Perhaps it’s a tea?


New people arrive and we give them a run of a corner like creepy prefects. One lady seems totally freaked out, so we grin beatifically and pronounce to her in a relaxing voice like a cult member.

“You’ll be fine. Everyone is beautiful.”

At lunch, we plead poo during length. I’ve got a lot going on downstairs, and I’m not alone. Either my physique is expelling toxins and adjusting to a life in that we don’t feed it chocolate each 3 hours, or something has crawled adult there and died.


Today we travel 7 kilometres, feeling fit and vital. It is a surpassing impulse for me, as we realize usually how concerned and protecting we am in genuine life of my bad back, and how most that stress keeps me from strength.

It’s a final night. D and we fear that reintegrating into silent life is going to be brutal. At this place we are coddled like disproportionate babies, an distilled sensation. We even travel around a place sucking on hulk bottles. And each night, a housekeeper turns down a bedcovers and lights essential oils in a bathroom.


Last day! It’s bizarre to be behind in a car. D and we confirm to stop during a lifelike tiny winery circuitously for a coffee. Our eyes accommodate as a waiter passes us with a play of crisp, tainted fries. We sequence a bowl, that we breathe in record time. They are glorious.

“I competence collect adult a bottle of booze for home”, says D.

“It’s a five-wine tasting,” says a lady behind a counter, as she pours us a shiraz or three, a stimulating rose and a impertinent dessert wine. At some indicate D and we realize we are usually 5 mins down a highway from a health farm. Oops!

Finally home, we am concerned to see my pleasing father and beautiful kids. But my welcome-back dinner, pleasant as it is, gives me teenager romantic whiplash. The comedy, nakedness and ear-bleeding sound spin takes removing used to, after a week of dishes spent in still conversation, with companions that did not get adult and dance, nude, mid-meal. While my children are my comprehensive favourite comedians, ‘peaceful’ is not an verb that describes a cooking table.


My residual ease gets me by a initial propagandize run, yet by six, all is descending apart. I’m station during a stove, cooking dinner, and all 3 children are seeking me questions during once. It’s all too most — I’ve mislaid my multi-tasking mojo.

Soon we realize what a biggest mangle has been from: a bloody housework. we have hardly carried a finger for a week. What a fall: from Cleopatra to Cleopatra’s housekeeper.

Also, my behind hurts all a time again, an destined byproduct of a bustling physicality of family life. But my connection to it has shifted in some surpassing way. And that stately week-long rest was so, so nourishing. Now, to insert some Zen into a existence of Mount Washmore and mislaid hats and Mum’s Taxi. we consider I’d improved start by training a children how to spin down my bedcovers each night.

If you made it this far, and you’re interested, the original is here

Have a great day. I really hope your behind doesn’t hurt, you aren’t suffering from teenager romantic whiplash, and if you make a masturbation joke, you bewail it only slightly xxx

Diary: Life at The Golden Door (OR: An Ordinary Woman Farts Her Way to Enlightenment)

Hola, my comrades!

Sorry for the radio silence. My laptop kicked the bucket, but is home from the techno-hospital now.

While I was on my e-sabbatical, published my diary of life at the Golden Door. 

Short version: caffeine withdrawal, terrible fartiness, sudden embarrassing tears, and overall, a brutal re-integration to Mum Life.

You can read the long version here, if you like.

I’ll be back on Monday to chat more – I’ve been decluttering all my cupboards, reading true crime and thinking about ‘period feminism’… Oh my god, it’s sure to be fabulous! Or the other one – pointless and shit? Yeah, totally shit!


ps: 8 year old just popped out of bed to deliver me the lyrics she’s been writing out to ‘Greased Lightning.”

As follows:

Go greece lightening your burning up the coal mine

Greece lightening go greece lightening

Go greece lightening your burning up the greece inside

Greece lightening go greece lightening

You are supreme

The chicks are cream

Greece lightening

And now, I die happy.

Anxiety and the Post-Baby Conversation: A Book Giveaway

Guys, anxiety is so hot right now! It’s the the kale smoothie of mental unrest. If the 90′s was all depression, the 21st century is all anxiety. It is more common than a bearded bicyclist. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1997, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem affecting Australians, with 9.7% or 1.3 million adult Australians (12% women and 7.1% men) reported to suffer some form of clinical anxiety during a 12 month period.

(Comic by Beth Evans) 

If you struggle at all with anxiety, like so many of the my most beloved people, I have a book for you.

My uncle Dr. Chris Mogan,  a Melbourne-based anxiety specialist,   has written Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies, a fantastic resource which offers practical strategies for managing worry, changing your thinking, supporting your mental health with lifestyle and breaking down what different therapies might involve.

(Comic by Beth Evans)

I have a copy of his book to give away, and for an honest and funny first person account of living with anxiety, I also suggest you check out The Little Mumma. 

Secondly, I have a copy of the wonderful book The Post-Baby Conversation by Alison Osborne. This book was published in 2006, the year my first was born. It’s such a helpful read for a family navigating the surging, wild seas of parenthood for the first time. This book is not about babies, or about parenting, but rather about how to be a Couple With Children – a vastly different kind of couple than you were before having a baby.

How do you share responsibility for the new jobs created in this crazy new baby economy you live in? What will happen after work and on weekends? What kind of expectations are you both silently holding about what the other should do?

Conversations about these things are incredibly helpful for couples figuring out how to do family life – it’s an ever-evolving work in progress , after all.

I think every new parent should get a copy of this book in the maternity ward.But until then, I have realised I have two copies, so I’d love to give one away. If you have a new baby in your life, know somebody who has, or if you are just grappling with these questions, I hope this book might shine some light for you.

Leave a comment below telling me whether you would like Anxiety For Dummies, or The Post-Baby Conversation, and I will choose a winner at random.

Happy week ahead, my comrades! May it be full of laughter and hugs that last for a minimum of 20 seconds ( it’s the magic number for oxytocin release. See? I’m full of advice today! )

Moody Bitches

An emotional moment, maybe regretted in the morning.
Woodstock, 1969, photo via Buzzfeed

You know, I have realised that whenever I have a PMT meltdown it is housework-related. I’ve written about it before.

Last week I had a terrible bout of ladymadness. Two long days of anxiety and quiet rage culminated in two long nights of insomnia, nightmares and a bout of midnight weeping – over the housework. The housework. Specifically, the way it stretched out before me like a lifetime curse.

Last week, we had two kid birthdays with all the parties, special dinners and present-managing that comes with them.  Also, one child home sick. So one of those intense family weeks. All went fine. Parties and presents and dinners: all excellent. Sick child: recovered.

Of course, a week like that means other balls get dropped a little. But last week I was also full of hormones, and the chaos seemed impossible, unmanageable. I felt like I was failing at everything. I couldn’t walk properly because I hiked up a cliff on the weekend, trying to emfitten myself, so there I was, limping around, tripping over the washing, swallowing the tears, baking the cakes.  All I could see were fails, everywhere.

Today I found this book called Moody Bitches at the library. It celebrates the tide of our moods thus:

Women’s hormones are constantly in flux. They ebb and flow over a month-long cycle and they wax and wane throughout decades of fertility, vacillating with particular volatility during adolescence and perimenopause, the spring and autumn of the reproductive years.

Our hormonal variations allow us to be empathetic and intuitive – to our environment, to our children’s needs, and to our partners intentions. Women’s emotionality is normal. It is a sign of health, not disease, and it is our single biggest asset.

Granted, it may have been hard for Keith to see my 2am  tears about the laundry as an asset, as I finally whimpered myself to sleep (a tale that is humiliating to recount.) ‘You know,’ he said very carefully at one point, ‘I know this feels very real, but it’s just your hormones.’


And no.

The problem with that argument  is that when the eostrogen courses through your veins, you are irrationally emotional, but the issue is actually real. The catastrophe of it is manufactured, but the essence of it is real.

I do feel like fucking Cinderella.

I do spend all day getting the house in order only to have all my work trashed in five minutes.

I do see mundane chores filling the rest of my days.

I do find it incredibly hard to prioritise and manage my  back pain well when the everyday physicality of running a homestead leaves me sore and exhausted.

In the cold light of morning, that’s not such a big deal, of course, and every life is full of hard graft or one kind or another.

Saturday morning, eyeballs dry,  head aching, humiliation levels high; I slunk out of the house wearing a big hat. I avoided eye contact with humans and I went and saw Mission Impossible. Robotic Tom suited my mood. I ate chocolate bullets and slouched grumpily, and by Sunday night, I was recalibrated into my normal state. Thank Christ.

I am so grateful that the PMT beast only descends on me every few months. It would be so miserable if that happened every cycle. It’s goddamn exhausting feeling all those feelings. Dear readers, if you’re about to surf the crimson tide and your hormones are holding you hostage,  you have my sympathy. I know how you feel. (Half depressed, half-murderous.) Hang in there, moody bitches.

It’s an ASSET!

Like Sands Through the Hourglass

My smallest turns four today. Four! I am gripped with twin urges: one, to  plan, joyfully,  the future with my big girl, and two, to start feeding her growth-retarding hormones like Websters parents so I can  keep her in my handbag forever.

Last week Pudding collapsed in floods of anguished tears when I stood firm on the order to put her craft things away. ‘But you don’t understand, Mummy,’ she wept. ‘ It’s boring! Cleaning up is so boring!”

Mummy understands, darling.

Mummy understands.

She talks to herself under her breath to her imaginary friend Annabel, and their exchanges are fabulous. Like recently, I was brushing my teeth while she was on the toilet next door. ‘That is not true!’ she hissed quietly.

‘What’s not true?’ I asked.

Pudding came in and shook her head angrily. ‘Annabel just said ‘you do poos in the bath every day’ to me.’

‘Well, that’s just ridiculous!’ I said. ‘You are not a  baby. You tell Annabel that. ‘

‘I will,’ she said , hands on hips. ‘I will certainly will tell her.’

‘New thongs, G?’ Dad asked yesterday. ‘Haviana’s, are they?’

‘No, they’re mine now,’ she replied. This child is well-aqquainted with the thrills of the hand-me-down.

Happy birthday, little friend! May life unfold before you like a glittering gift.

When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly “What are the days of auld lang syne, Pa?”

“They are the days of a long time ago, Laura,’ Pa said. “Go to sleep now.”

But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa’s fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the firelight gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.

She thought to herself “This is now.”

She was glad that the cozy home, and Pa and Ma, and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.

Little House in The Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder.