These early days were a test for us all – but particularly the children. We had uprooted them from their friends, their routine and their home, given away or stored their toys and flung them into chaos with no running water or electricity. They had responded remarkably well, all things considered – but they were not without their low points.
‘I want to go home,’ they said as I felt sick with guilt. I wanted to go home too – but it wasn’t the house I missed. Although I had felt sad at leaving it, what I missed was our friends, our little town – our familiar weekly routine, the feeling of belonging that we take so for-granted, until it’s lost.
‘I feel homesick and I miss our old friends,’ said Sam gently, his beautiful brown eyes full of quiet sincerity. Sam doesn’t waste words and rarely talks about feelings, so such sentiments coming from him felt like a knife wound. I wanted to hold him and make it all go away, magically restore us to some semblance of order and normality – but I had no idea what normal would look like and when it would come.
But sometimes a chink of light would fall and I could glimpse the sort of future we had dreamed of – the reason why we were taking this mad gamble. On the edge of a field there was a little wood and in the rare intervals between the showers, they would run off there to play. On one joyful afternoon I stood outside the tent, listening to their voices from the wood – completely free-range, adultless, imaginative, fabulous play. This was it, this was the way it was meant to be.
Then there was the afternoon the generator arrived in a large cardboard box, The following day and the one after, they played some inexplicable game in that box while I glowed internally – who needed electricity when you had a large cube of cardboard. Wasn’t this what it was all about – the simple things in life, making your own entertainment, enjoying the moment and making use of what you have.