We have a fixed weekend morning routine which involves as Little As Possible. This doesn’t just happen on its own, you know. I’ve had to work at it. Dance classes, gymnastics etc have all been discouraged. Unless their father takes them, it isn’t happening. I have instead inducted them into the sophisticated approach – the Guardian magazine, breakfast in bed, the smell of coffee around lunchtime when we might manage brunch of some kind. When friends tell me of early morning starts for gym competitions or rugby, I give them the look that says, you should have put your foot down.
So this morning, as usual, I am lying prone, reading the paper. L comes in, in her pyjamas, and gets in bed next to me. I put the paper down and hold her tight. This is one of our rituals, weekend mornings snuggled in bed, sometimes asleep as respite from anorexia. But L is not tired, or sad, she has a gleam in her eye. We look at fringes for her next haircut and then as I put the iPad down, she lunges at me. Tickie Tickie Time. A game we have played since toddlerhood, but somehow we never really grew out of it. L is merciless and we tussle, with me begging her to stop, which she does when over powered, but then starts again as soon as she is able. I run out of bed and we do the comedy chasing thing around and over the bed. We squeal and shout. And then K walks in with her arms folded. We both scream that the other is attacking us and urge her to take our side. K sighs and tells us we are both very, very silly. That she is disappointed in us and we need to grow up. She is giggling, but plays her role pretty well. L and I go into sulky mode and try to kick each other without K noticing.
Yep, we should be more mature. But the thing is, growing up can be pretty grim. Both of us long for a time when we could be irresponsible, when we didn’t sit in rooms gravely nodding with strangers about responsibilities, when life was just life and wasn’t about recovery and struggle. Certain psychologists might view this as L’s resistance to growing up or my refusal to let her. It is neither of those things – it is grabbing hold of joy when it comes along and holding on to it as right,y as possible, before the next battle with Ed.