Tuesday, 28 February 2012

All about the smalls

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

It is very, very difficult to stay grumpy when things like this happen:

I was sitting at breakfast, drinking my black-as-pitch coffee, the kind that is so strong you can stand the spoon up in it, eating my bacon, and half-thinking about my work for the day. The two older children had just left for school. The Four-Year-Old was noodling about with the dogs.

Suddenly, she presented herself at my side, quivering with excitement.

‘I am going to get dressed,’ she announced. One sort of felt she really needed a soundtrack to go with this pronouncement, something heavy on the string section, with a bit of brass going on.

‘That is very thrilling,’ I said. ‘Are you going to choose your own special outfit?’

‘YES,’ she shouted, in delirious delight. (Imagine if one still got that same thrill from the mere fact of getting dressed. The endorphin level would be off the scale.)

She then raced down the corridor in her furry boots, singing that truly terrible Celine Dion number about Near, far, wherever you are, at the top of her voice, chased closely by three equally excited black dogs.

It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life.

I do not know when she started singing Celine Dion songs and I am not going to ask.

One of the Dear Readers suggested music as a remedy for the grumps yesterday, and I wonder now if that is not right. When I am at home, I suddenly realise, I sing a lot. I do wild shouty singing in the kitchen, when I am making my supper. I sing practically every morning, as I walk round the block with The Pigeon.

Because of being so far in the north of Scotland, away from houses and people, a big part of my walk is in the places where one cannot be overheard. So I can belt out Turning Japanese, or St Dominic’s Preview, or Simple Twist of Fate, or, a more contemporary favourite from the little mop-tops that are Goldheart Assembly, King of Rome, without fear of being overheard.

I can’t do that here, because I am in a house full of people, and because it is the south, and there are not quite the same empty spaces where people cannot hear. (Although there is one little hidden wood I have my eye on that might be fine for belting.) Anyway, since I always like a new, half-baked theory, my new, half-baked theory is that perhaps my body is missing the singing.

The Four-Year-Old returns.

She has made the Pigeon a card. It consists of indecipherable calligraphy, quite long.

‘I’ll read it to you,’ the small person says.

She reads.

‘Dear Pigeon, Thank you for coming on this day, I love you very much, and I know you like Noddy books’.

‘That’s a brilliant card,’ I say. (I feel slightly tearful. How does such a very young human remember the whole thing about the Pigeon and the Noddy books? It was almost a week ago. I am forty-five, and I can't remember what happened yesterday.)

The Four-Year-Old beams.

‘I’ve got one for you too,’ she says. She looks at me with a dark, knowing look. ‘It’s not pink,’ she says.

We have this continuing conversation, because her favourite colour is pink, and mine is not. In fact, I do not really like pink at all, except for the occasional flash of very dark cerise. Occasionally, the Four-Year-Old likes to check.

‘Do you still not really like pink?’ she will say, her head on one side.

‘No,’ I say, because one must never lie to children. ‘I like green.’

She clearly thinks this is quite peculiar, but she lets it go. I can see her thinking: just humour the old girl.

My card, which is not pink, says, according to its reader: ‘Thank you for coming. We have had an enormous day.’

‘An enormous what?’ I ask, as she reads this out. I want to check.

‘An enormous day,’ she says, with more smiles.

I love the idea that our day has already been vast. It is only eight-thirty in the morning. The Today Programme is not even over. Yet, there have been huge doings in this house.

The Four-Year-Old looks at me gravely. ‘I have to go back to my office,’ she says.

‘Good plan,’ I say.

I turn to typing, at the dear old kitchen table. The small person sits herself down with her notebook and her pen and her fold of stickers, and settles to serious work. She is quite absorbed now, silent, concentrating, focussed. She knows exactly what it is she is doing. I am, and shall remain, deeply impressed.


That all happened about eleven hours ago. In the meantime, I have done work, ridden the mare, made fruitless attempts to organise my time and map out logistics, and picked up my telephone to find a text message. I do not get very many text messages. I am not one of those people whose telephone hops and hums and squeaks and bleeps all the time. I quite often leave it off for days and do not even notice.

This text message was a dilly. It made me shout: OH YES. (You see the whole capital letters thing is really dying hard.) Oh, oh, oh, I said aloud. That is the best thing in the whole world, I said.

The third of my great-nieces was born this morning. The text told me that she arrived in rude health, weighing a tremendous eight pounds, and that everyone is doing well.

I've been worrying a bit, in the back of my mind, because I always do when a baby is on the way.

The news that all is well comes as both vast delight, real profound happiness, and great relief.

When I drive north this time, when I throw the car round the final mountain bends to my house, I shall have a whole new human to meet. It seems like an absolute miracle to me. When I left, there was not a person. Now there is.

Even as I write that sentence, even through the fog of tiredness that comes at the end of a long day, I smile.


Again, what with everything, I'm afraid there was no time for photographs. I do wish I were better at the organisation of time, but I suppose it is as well to know one's limitations. Hours run away from me like water. Here are a few random pictures from the last few days:

28 Feb 5 26-02-2012 18-14-15.ORF

28 Feb 7 24-02-2012 16-40-06.ORF

27 Feb 2 28-10-2011 14-07-07

27 Feb 4 26-02-2012 17-51-00.ORF

28 Feb 7 24-02-2012 17-06-13

Here is the lovely little mare, again, who went very sweetly for me today. She really is a tremendously nice person:

28 Feb 1 27-02-2012 13-49-40.ORF

Her slightly punk hairdo is because she was hogged, for her previous work. It is growing out, and soon shall be smart and normal.

Some elegant black and white Pigeon photographs:

28 Feb 11 24-10-2011 14-28-55

28 Feb 12 07-07-2011 16-15-01

With her friend in the south:

28 Feb 13 19-02-2012 18-09-13

And the three small people, who today have a new sister:

28 Feb 8 28-06-2011 15-41-41

If she is anything like as sweet as they are, she shall be a very, very splendid girl indeed.


  1. My goodness those three children in the photo are all so young to have a baby sibling. Their mamma must be squeezing them out at a great rate, are they all pre-schoolers? In awe, if so.

    The FourYearOld has her own office? Perhaps she needs something like one of those toy typewriters we had as children in the 1960s and 70s. There was a very splendid chic model that typed all italics (a Petite something or other?) but I only had one with a wheel in the middle which had to be turned to choose each letter before the key could be struck. I also had a John Bull Printing Outfit. And a toy Post Office with sheets of baby stamps, etc. Oooh, what transports of delight for a small well-organised person...

  2. New babies are wonderful. How delightful for you. I have an eight year old grandaughter as precisely organized as the grandmother for whom she was named and sadly never knew. I give her beautiful boxes to be organized in.

  3. Lovely, lovely post from start to glorious picture finish.

  4. Oh, I have been missing a marvelous week while I've been shunning the internet for books and sleep and homemade soup. So now I have some catching up to do:

    Threes and Fours are some of the most amazing poets and storytellers on the planet, because they do not take anything for granted. They see and hear everything freshly, and when they speak, there are no trodden paths for them to take.

    Being a parent—sometimes I don't even know how I do it, especially being a single mum. It has something to do with things happening one day at a time, so you can build on what you already have. Also, sometimes knowledge mysteriously arrives when most needed.

    What you say makes perfect sense.

    I LOVE your reports on the children (and mourn the unavailability of italics when writing to you here).

    Apropos of the Nine-Year-Old and her peals of delighted laughter: I am discovering that one of the words I love is "shriek," at least when applied to happy children. I've been reading War and Peace, and recently came across a marvelous sentence about Natasha, who, while holding on to the skirt of her brother's "Hungarian jacket, hopped up and down in one place like a little goat and shrieked piercingly." (I liked this so much that I reenacted it for my daughter, who could only shake her head and smile at her silly mother).

    I'm glad to hear that you reached the other side of grumpiness (with a little help from your deliriously delighted new Four).

    Congratulations on the brand new great-niece!

  5. So pleased that the sun is shining on you again, metaphorically, anyway. It's raining here, the last day of an uncommonly cool and wet summer. Even ducks would be put out by it.

  6. I haven't had much time of late to throw comments your way, but just wanted to let you know your posts still shed a little sunshine on my day at least, if not on yours occasionally. And the small people are delightful. Was never entirely convinced myself, but now as the shamefully-proud progenitor of one, delights abound just when you need them to.

  7. Re: Monday 27th bad day-even being mildly dehydrated makes you cranky?

  8. The four year old sounds utterly enchanting, I love how children find beauty and magic in the ordinary. So glad that the blackness of Monday has passed, those black clouds that descend on us without warning are horrible but I find necessary once in a while so that we can appreciate how glorious life is without them.
    Many congratulations on the safe arrival of your new great niece. As you rightly say, it is a miracle, I'm very privileged to be a student midwife and each birth that I am witness too is a miracle, the simple beauty of it is truly a wonder to behold.

  9. Seems like time management is a challenge for all writers; some do it wonderfully well, and others---well, not so hot. But haven't noticed that either method affects the quality of their writing, so carry on. Yours certainly doesn't suffer.

    Lovely to hear of the arrival of your great niece, and you caught the miracle of it perfectly: no life, and then life. Never fails to be impressive.

    And did wonder about the mare's spiky do ;-).


  10. ...i may have to take a leaf out of 4yr old's book and look forward to at least 1 mundane task today/tomorrow. i had a little tear in my eye at the news of the safe arrival of your 3rd great niece, ENORMOUS congratulations!

  11. Huge congratulations on the new life and huge thanks for making me smile and snuffle-laugh several times...the four year old quotes, just brilliant....we have this all to come, I'm so very lucky.

  12. Congratulations on your Great Aunt-edness.


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