Oh my, but I am unpleasant when the Dog has me in his teeth. I have felt confused since I crawled out of bed far too late this morning, trying to pin down what I should do from the whirl of demands, urgent and insignificant, real and imagined. It is like the scene in the Harry Potter movie where he has to chose the one, correct key from a room thick with little whizzing winged keys, darting bewilderingly in his face. I can’t get perspective, can’t prioritise, much less recognise and discard the red herrings and descend into angry ranting at anything and everything in an attempt to find out what is making me feel so edgy. But the feeling is rootless, an anxious tumbleweed.. The best I can do is let it pass, unremarked.
We take Child 1 to a party and Child 2 to the park. It is a traditional Victorian park, a wide open expanse of pond, bedding and bowling greens, with a generous children’s playground and the additional advantage of being deeply nostalgic for both of us as we grew up nearby. It’s not what I had in mind when I decided I would Get Outdoors today – completely remodel the garden! climb a hill! picnic in the nearest country park! – but I am too surly and unfocussed to settle on any other, loftier plan and the little lad needs a trip to the park anyway. Nonetheless, my toddler’s delight in every minor entertainment – swings, slides, climbing equipment, and – oh joy of joys – a bridge over the narrowest point in the pond to be crossed over (and over, and over again) – is infectious, and I am simultaneously drawn into his little two-year-old world of wonders, less than myself and more like myself, and blown free in the wide landscape and open sky of the city park, greater than the small, critical person I have been all day. I gradually feel my mind unclenching, standing down.
An hour later I walk back up the avenue of old limes, the aisle of a green cathedral, his little body wrapped contentedly round my back, and feel blessed.