In loco parentis

L and I had a night away to celebrate her 40th birthday. It was only the second night that the three children have gone to bed and woken up without us; and there was one other occasion when Gabe still had no siblings. They seemed to cope well, with no dramas or misbehaviour. L’s parents did the looking-after.


Robin has found himself a warm spot, where he likes to sit in the bathroom, before or after his evening wash. He nudges his way into a nook created by the corner of the bath, the radiator and the washing basket.


Gabe won’t be alone on the ground floor or first floor, even with other people in the house. If he has to get dressed while everyone else is in the kitchen, he cajoles Robin to go upstairs with him. L and I are trying not to indulge this fear, without managing to help Gabe deal with it.


Despite Eliza’s gymnastic prowess, she hadn’t been able to do a cartwheel. But with some guidance from her gym teacher, and determined practice she has banished the imperfections from her kick, handstand and landing. She wheels back and forth across her bedroom, the living room, kitchen and around the goalposts at Conway Road park. If she has an audience, which she always encourages, she calls for marks out of 10. Eliza pushes again and again until she gets a 10 or the judge withdraws.


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