The other day we went down south to Oil Town for a church service. Oil Town feels much older and quieter than modern, manic Gulf Town – with a rural, rather colonial air. There are gum trees everywhere and the roads are spacious and the houses have gardens (whereas we live in a tower block). Dustyfeet was picking up twigs and leaves in the church carpark. I went to stop her – it was hot and dirty and dusty – and then I stopped myself. If she was growing up somewhere else, she’d be playing with twigs and leaves in the garden all the time. Here, she very rarely encounters them.
I’m beginning to realise that, because we are mostly confined indoors, Dustyfeet gets very little time to go off and explore things on her own terms. She and I are always together, and I always feel the need to come up with things to occupy her. This afternoon I sat back and watched to see what she would come up with for herself. She asked for some music – she’s a bit of an Abba fan – and started to do some colouring.
After a while, I wandered away to do some bits of housework. I peeped around the door every so often. Over the course of about half an hour, she coloured, she danced to the music, she sat on the sofa and read several books, and then she discovered a brightly coloured sarong that had been left folded on the sofa. She spent a long time playing with the sarong, wrapping it around herself like an abaya, hiding underneath it, running around the table trailing it behind her.
Then she spotted me watching her and invited me to come and join her. She wanted to play hide and seek under the sarong. Sometimes we both hid, and then we jumped out and said “boo” to the world. We danced. We held one end of the sarong each, and flapped it between us – “Flap up high! Flap down low!” But what she liked best was to sit together under the sarong while I held it up over our heads like a tent – or perhaps more like eagles’ wings – and made it flap. Whose idea was that? I have no idea!