Be present.

It is nearly three months since we moved to a new house. We run away from the city into the “countryside“ and I say it like this because it is a town surrounded by countryside with no airports ambulance corridors police cars wailing away screaming neighbours or the usual weekend drunks. So, it is countryside!

Although I feel somehow I may miss our locals – the guy who sang so loud you could hear him 50 yards away, my neighbour with his dog and his sick uncle, the security guy at the supermarket who knows my son since he was born (or even earlier than that!) the guys at the gates of the underground station…and that’s the beginning of a long list which was forged over six years.

I got to know the inhabitants of the gardens, saw many cubs become foxes how the parrots took over the trees and how the squirrels grew countless families and how each generation managed to munch through the kitchen window frame unsuccessfully and how my cats use to chase them when not laying down enjoying the sun on the window sills. I repaired and restored the patio and the front flowerbed to their former glory and tendered to the roses whom after a year of intensive care greeted me with beautifully full scented roses summer after summer.

I planted oaks from kernels, grew many holly trees and planted countless bluebells and I even have a yew tree which I grew from seed – which by the way is sitting in the patio on the new house.

That small flat was the silent witness of many sleepless nights when my son was born and the last resting place of one of my cats who finished her days in a cosmopolitan city just to follow her super cosmopolitan style.

Yes: the flat was small; half – if not all – of my stuff was on a storage space which cost me a small fortune every month not to mention how things were stacked up in the kitchen or how going outside to the patio was more of an expedition than a simple “open the door and go” like it is now, which in turn means endless hours outside enjoying the good weather and the liberty to say “let’s have dinner outside” with everything within 10 steps away from the kitchen.

This new house is big and spacious. It does have a patio with easy access and all the bedrooms are big and airy. The kitchen is simply BIG and it is so big there is a small table there where we had our meals every day until I managed to compose the dining room – that is, clear it from boxes and remnants from the move. We have again plants inside the house – almost one in every room! – and everything seems to be in place, seamless.

Today, as I am cleaning my computer archives – forced by the desperate need to find a document which remains elusive – I found many videos made in the old flat, and it felt like when you find a treasure because those memories are there somewhere in my brain but seeing them today was like “wow! Look at that” kind of thing.

The funny thing is that my son saw a frame of one video made in the old house. And he said “Home! Look, mummy, home!” and I did explain to him that now this was our new house and that was our old house. He kept saying that there was “home”. After put my son to bed and whilst doing the tidying up and leaving everything ready for the morning – whilst still cleaning my computer of course – I could not stop thinking on my little one thoughts and feelings about “home” mainly expressed by his facial expressions and his eyes together with words who only he understood.

And left me wondering if although we are well settled in this new house and everything is working “like clockwork” if we are really present in this house and we really took ownership of it – despite the fact that it is rented – as we did with the flat. Perhaps he feels the flat was home because he was born in it. Perhaps because we were living there for two years prior to his arrival we made that flat ours.

The flat – as this house – was technically a transitional place, where we would stay until we settled with our wandering lifestyle (travelling suitcases used to live outside the wardrobe and close to the door combined with very demanding jobs) so we did not consciously adopt the flat as ours. Then life happened and our son came along and of course we made the flat home – but always with that back thought that now more than ever we must settle somewhere we could call ours.

The question is – now that I re read the paragraph above – did we really made the flat home or did our son made the flat home? As soon as he started to crawl and leave a trail of toys, putting toys amongst books and arranging the kitchen cupboards to his liking – the ones at his level – he made the flat a home on his own particular way. And inevitably, we followed.

And yes, we were crammed…. but we made a home together as a family. Maybe it is time this time to give it a go, forget the fact that we may not be here next year and be more present, and enjoy every day and every inch of this new house as if it was always ours and make it home, pour the heart and *do* live in it.

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What else?

As I mentioned on my previous blog, nowadays I am working as a Nursery Assistant in a nursery whilst doing my Early Years Education Course. Being an assistant I go from one room to another and providing help wherever and whenever needed. As I said before I am gaining more experience than I can handle.

This last week I had to spend more time than usual in the babies room which provided me with amazing insights – now they see me and they greet me with immense smiles – and plenty of food for thought since inevitably, I keep comparing what I read with what I see and I imagine how I could help them develop naturally in the best possible way.

Well yes, I say “I imagine” because being an assistant I am there just to do that, not to say what I think and what could be done to help / improve and make it better for the little ones. Between the state-of-the-art equipment together with the age appropriate toys – sufficient to rival any toy shop, believe me on that one – that is not difficult at all, just requires time.

But time is something that gets completely lost in the midst of cleaning, feeding, changing nappies, filling forms, more cleaning, nap time, more feeding, more cleaning, more forms to fill (directly proportional to the amount of feeding, naps and nappy changing) and so on and so forth until the evening draws to a close and there are no more babies left because they have all gone home.

I’m sure by now you must be wondering…but what about the babies? Well, the babies are there crawling, walking, babbling, crying or sitting in between the nappy changes, the food and the nap.   The carers are there not only to care for these primal needs in a baby aside from having an extra pair of eyes in the back to watch them so they do not fall or injure themselves.

The carers as well are there to educate the little ones in basic life skills since they have to start to learn how to socialise, how to be together at circle time and how to play together, respect each other and schedule in between some unguided exploration amongst dealing with complex emotions.

So you may say what is wrong with this picture? Everything seems to fit the description of any nursery in the planet if anything a pretty good one. Children are fed, entertained, changed, put to sleep and controlled. What else?

What else. Some questions, is the answer to the “what else”. Question yourself: does a baby know all this malarkey of socialise of being together at circle time and being sat amongst their peers?

Does a baby need to learn “basic” life skills? This raises the question of what do we think, culturally and as a society what a life skill is…