Monday, 22 August 2011

children of crake

after a decidedly mixed break t decides to have some time in the garden this last weekend. sure enough it's not long, the street these days being awash with the under sevens, when some of her wee pals arrive to see what she's about. what's that smell they demand. that's the herbs says t. it smells like poo, the girls declare and cover their faces. what's a herb asks one of them. you eat them on your food says t. horror from one, why from the other. because they taste nice, says t. the curious one deigns to smell a bit of sage, then a bit of oregano. the other does not. they cycle off.

they return. no t. where has she gone they ask each other. t returns and begins raking the grass. what're you doing they ask. i'm raking up the grass says t. why they ask in unison. because of i don't the dead grass will turn all yucky t say after some thought. how can you pick it up in your hands asks one of them. like this says t. oh they say and watch for a while. can we do that? i'm sure you could says t. can we come in your garden they ask. only if your mum says it's okay says t. why do we need to ask her they ask. because it's polite says t.

this causes some debate. they return to their own house. shortly after a noise that can only be described as bawling ensues. this is not uncommon. they return. a debate ensues on how big a bike they will soon own. that, and the fact that one of them still uses stabilisers and the other doesn't. the fact the gardening is over doesn't seem to bother them. their mother thinks that child labour in the garden, far from being a bad thing, should be encouraged, especially if it's not her garden.

briefly i appear. they are silent. as soon as i've gone they ask, who was that? t tells them. does he live here they ask. yes, says t. is he your husband they ask. no says t. who is he then they ask. he's my boyfriend says t. oh, they say, so where's your husband? t admits later that a rather more elaborate answer than the one she gives suggested itself to her! i don't have a husband she says. oh, say the girls.

later they will return en masse tho this time neither the garden nor i are interesting to them, more the fact that one of the girls has taken one the of the wee boys and 'squeezed his head'. his mother is not bothered by this but does want him to come in to the house as she's sleepy and wants to go to bed. he is unimpressed with this as a gambit to entice him away from the playing.

t comes back inside. i feel like that snowman in oryx and crake trying to explain stuff to the children of crake. and launches off into an exposition on children generally, the children of crake, the hymns in year of the flood and many things atwoodian. draw her a picture of a bunny will you margaret atwood and this is where that sort of caper leads. i firmly expect some sort of appearance of gardener hymns sometime in the near future.

we have a bunch of wee kids in the street these days along with another bunch who are not so wee that we've seen growing up this past few years. it seems a shame that the family has been so limited in recent times and the role of those others, neighbours, friends etc so marginalised as to have been almost criminalised, esp if you're male. we're lucky not to have too much of this looperdom where we are but its effects can be felt at the very least. everything is a threat, everything a danger down to the food they eat (tho this fortunately means they don't rifle our berry crop!). it seems such a shame that we've got to this. children it seems to me benefit those around them so much and they in turn, when exposed to a variety of influences, are benefited themselves. i remember my own childhood in this respect with some fondness but even then i was aware that i just didn't have sufficient in the way of older people around me while i was growing up. the best i can do these days is to be seen reading or drawing outside, looking at insects in the garden or just generally being on my bike

- why are you going on your bike in football boots

- these aren't football boots, these are cycling shoes

- cycling shoes?

- yes, they have these wee clips on the bottom that attach me to the pedals

- can i see?


Titus said...

Much to ponder here, and nicely written too.
I also think about how few adults my children spend time with compared to my own childhood of spending most of my not-at-school hour playing in the slaughterhouse or buggering off in delivery vans and cattle floats with any of a number of the men and women who worked in the business.
But then I think is there any recipe for a 'good' childhood. Sometimes it feels like children are becoming a product - put all these things in, and you will get this out.
Such a knotty subject, child-rearing. Back foots abound.

swiss said...

i agree and there's always the danger of that innocence of childhood thing! maybe it's been hanging out with the swedes and their kids of late - there seems to be a much better balance (or maybe my family is just lucky) and opportunity for adults and children to interact, even the linguistically non competent ones!

swiss said...

plus, from my own point of view, it's not so much what the kids are missing out on that i'm bothered about - more what i'm missing out on!

Rachel Fox said...

love the idea of t's mystery husband. who is he? where is he..?

one of h's more middle-class friends asked her (not that long ago) how m and i had a child if we weren't married. who knew any kids still thought like that??

swiss said...

t loves the idea of her mystery husband!

my daughter's sister once asked me to be her fake dad on the grounds that all the other kids in her class had two dads and she only had one.

Rachel Fox said...

Children these days are so spoilt! I didn't have one!

swiss said...

she was such a wee cutie!

my daughter on the other hand suggested, around age 7, while on the phone to an ex, that she would be alright if she died because she would still have me and her mum. and then if i died she would still have her mum. she was always clear about the hierarchy!

Marion McCready said...

we're a part of a small church fellowship which is like an extended family really, so it's great for the kids in that sense.
sounds like a great garden!

swiss said...

the kids seem to like it but then again there's lots of stuff they can eat in it. plus it's full of insects (insects mind - no mini-beasts here!) and plenty of devices to look at them thru.

the religious life is not unappealing to me to the extent that ministry was once suggested, when i was young as well, a fact i look back on now with some astonishment. it's not so much the faith but the belief - now there's a discussion we can have sometime! lol