“Mad with joy”

October 13, 2013 at 12:09 am | Posted in creativity, food, Quotations | Leave a comment

‘The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tyres.’

American writer Dorothy Parker said that. I was lucky to get four stepchildren, three of whom – the three boys – lived with us for about half the time. Lucky because it had become too late for me to have children (that drought of men remotely possible that happens to women about mid-way through their 30s) and lucky because the stepchildren themselves were wonderful.

The only down-side was more housework, but their dad was pretty good at doing his share. This puts me in mind of another American comedian, Joan Rivers: Í hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again.’

I recently converted the last, the youngest, boy’s bedroom into a gorgeous guest room when he moved into a converted garage at his mum’s place, not far away. Of course he is perfectly welcome to sleep in his old room any time he wants to, but now it looks (and smells) appealing.

The toy car engines are in the shed. The real car engines are in the shed. The heavy-duty dark blue curtains are in the shed. The dark furniture lasted about three minutes on the grass outside the house before being taken away. The desiccated rat behind the chest of drawers has gone.

His old single bed (handed down from older brothers) has become a sort of day-bed, with its pale green cotton doona cover with magnolias and embroidered blue and turquoise hummingbirds and matching pillows and cushions.

People – grownups, not adolescent boys – sigh with pleasure when they see the sunlight spilling in through the delicate white muslin curtains with blue embroidered borders onto the pale blue suede-painted walls and light cane and wicker furniture and recycled silk and cotton turquoise and blue rugs – it’s a dream of a room, they say.

And if it’s too “girlie” for the boys, there are always other rooms they can sleep in. When they lived here half the time, there was “girlie” bread and “girlie” milk, “girlie” butter and “girlie” rice. It was wholegrain versus white and full-cream versus skim and real butter versus margarine and white rice versus brown. A conflict expressed by the eldest boy with teasing affection to the only girl in the house.

Now they have gone except to visit, my house can be as “girlie” as I like. I even have flowers sometimes –pink lilies, delicate jasmine or armfuls of our jonquils and daffodils, bright yellow in blue glass vases. The boys don’t really notice flowers. But I’m with Iris Murdoch: “People from a planet without flowers must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”

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