The calm

calmToday my children and I went for a walk in the park. That is all it was. No drama, no grand and creative ideas. No picnics no bubbles no balls no pigeon-chasing. Harry was awake, but not crying. He wasn't doing his usual laughing, either. He relaxed in his pram, blue eyes looking into grey sky - and sometimes across at me - taking it all in. Madeleine held my hand the entire time. No running off and asking to be chased, or pretending to be a dog, not even twirling. She just wanted to walk beside me, hand in hand, while we looked at the park. So that's what we did. When we came to a fountain I crouched beside her to point out its features (highly educational comments, like "Can you see the mer-people holding up that heavy platform?" and "Oh look, those children are nudie-rudy just like you in the bath"). Madeleine squatted beside me and gave the fountain her full attention, rolling her eyes and saying "Oh Mummy" at that last comment.

Harry watched the wind flirt with the still-green trees and said nothing.

We walked around the duck pond. At each new fountain, Madeleine pulled hard on my hand until we both crouched again and pondered the inscrutableness of sculptural water. Ducks traced water-lines through fallen leaves on the still pond, and it would all have felt very Zen if it wasn't for the soundtrack of an excited "Quack! Quack!" coming from the toddler attached to my left hand.

Harry watched three seagulls circle a fig tree and said nothing.

We stayed an hour in that park, just looking at fountains, looking at ducks, looking at seagulls, looking at trees. When I put Madeleine back into the pram and headed across the road into Gertrude Street, it was as though a spell had broken. The silence of our still and simple walk was torn apart. Madeleine began to grizzle. "Nom nom?" she asked, which was fair enough as it was well past her usual lunch time. Harry stopped watching the sky and fell asleep. We turned towards home.