The BBC National Orchestra of Wales played nature. Wind over a winter’s sea. Dawn. Trips through the valleys and over the cliffs. Bright blue foaming seas. Birds in ancient oak forests and small mammals borrowing through pine. This was the symphony we heard the other night. And the way in was conflict.
Lulu and Delphine had gone to Sarah‘s house . Our friends, Sarah and James have recently bought a parcel of woods adjacent to their house. They invested in a buggy – a kind of four-wheel-drive golf cart and they drive it down the path since their words occupies steep ground. This makes it easy.
Amalie, Sarah and James’s daughter and Lulu’s best friend, also drives the forest buggy. She and Lulu were horsing around pretending to leave the other one. Then they tried it with Delphine. They drove the smallest distance without her but Delphine panicked, ran after them, tripped and fell. They stopped the buggy and ran to her to see if she was okay. She was too – just scuffed knees and some dirt on her trousers. This came to my attention when I noticed the dirt on Delphine’s clothes going to the concert.
You drove off? I asked Lulu.
Okay, the incredulousness and my voice at this stage was a little high. But I was still prepared to listen. Unfortunately, Jack jumped in at this point. Here comes the pain of our family dynamic.
Our explosiveness happens so quickly it can take days to understand. Weeks. I’m still trying. The truth is that if Lulu had stopped to explain the situation, it would have calmed down much quicker. Whether Jack didn’t give her a chance to or she didn’t try hard enough is debatable. She definitely makes herself look uncaring but pretending not to care. Jack is the grown-up so he should hold back. But the heart of this – Delphine – she was, as usual, relatively unaffected. She wasn’t hurt. Kids naturally tease each other and neither Lulu or Amalie would never have wanted Delphine to have been hurt.
By the time we were in the Arts Centre waiting to going to the concert, Lulu had stormed off without her ticket. Then Lulu’s English teacher, apparently also attending the symphony, approached us.
‘I’ve been meaning to call you,’ she said. ‘I know you missed the parent-teachers conference so I wanted to give you an update on how she’s doing.’
I wiped the surprise off my face. Only in Aberystwyth. ‘Right. How is she doing?’
She raised her eyebrows. ‘She’s good, a little rough round the edges.’
My turn. ‘You don’t say? In which way?’
She gave me a quizzical look. I don’t think many parents ask? But in fairness she launched in. At the end of it, Lulu emerged from the bathroom a little red-eyed. Her teacher smiled at her and we went inside the hall.
Music broke it up. At the interval of exquisite sound, we headed for the ice cream and sat down in a kind of forced truce. Then Jack started to make us laugh. He turned from overreactive parent to funny dad and we were doubled up laughing into our ice creams. This is us. Good moments and ones you want to laugh away at the interval. These are the dynamics. At least families can take solace – since dynamic itself means ever-changing. Now go hug yourself.