After he had poured out the milk and measured the strawberry dust, Grampa kindly gave them each a spoon. They like stirring their own, and then drinking it from the spoon. The two smallest were content, sitting there in the sun with their grandfather. They were safe. He liked sitting in it with them, too. Theirs was a mutual admiration society.
Meanwhile, Grandma sat in the shadier bits of the patio, and watched. Mommy had gone to collect the 2nd grader from school, and all was calm. All was bright.
Even the dog was asleep.
Grandma took in the scene, and thought about places where 'calm' and 'bright' might not describe any scene. She had worked for such a place in New Zealand, where the children had become homeless. This homelessness was sometimes because of parental illness or death, and sometimes because of parental offense to the child. Either way, the child found their way to the Health Camp, there to be taken care of by kindly 'nurses'.
I was one of those 'nurses', and every part of their day was directed by me. The getting up and out of their beds (it was a dormitory with long lines of small beds along the walls - Dickens style!). The cleaning of teeth. The dressing, and so on. Sometimes we would all walk in a long double line, snaking through the town and to the park.
But I did not like these walks to the park because my girls NEVER wanted to walk in straight lines. Nor would they do it. There was always an excruciating scene with me trying to make them do it. But - oh dear, they scattered like small bees, evaporating from sight and causing no end of a ruckus.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/11803513@N06/2864379455"Susan. Janine! Get back over here! Give that banana back to the shop lady! This is your warning.." I would shout out in angst. But I was speaking to the wind.
It was, as I said, excruciating. And then one day I received a summons to the director ("uh-oh," I thought). He was seated in his office when I arrived. I sat across that massive desk, and waited.
"Is everything alright?" he queried.
I was uncertain. Frightened. I needed this job and hoped I could somehow, by some miracle, cut it. "It's alright, I said. "but perhaps - not easy.."
He smiled kindly, and took a stack of files from his drawer. "I understand! Let's take a look at these, shall we?" he said. I could see that they were the files of the girls in my group. In those stacks of papers, there just might be some answers, and I was interested.
"Let us start with Janine.." said the director.
Ah, yes. Janine...my little Instigator.
(To be continued)See you along the way!
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/11803513@N06/2864379455">Mangawhai Bar</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>