5 o'clock in the suburbs

The first year I lived in this house, about 15 years ago, I thought that the family next door must be really unhappy or somehow dysfunctional. Often I would hear a small child crying, most often at the end of the day. Sometimes I'd be think maybe there's someone I should call or something I should do. But then the endless dramas of the busy, selfish, childless & weird life that I used to lead back in those sharehousing days would suck me back into the vortex, and the sounds of a small child crying would wash over me.

Tonight Grace & I were in the front room, waiting for G to come home. Grace was being fussy, alternating between my lap & the floor with her new found comfort item, the blankie. Then I noticed that distinctive odour. I checked to see whether it was one of her foul farts, but no, it was the fifth crappy nappy for the day. Lucky me. So we did the change & G came in just as we were finishing up.

I took the nappy outside to scrape in the toilet & then I heard the child next door crying. And the kid over the back fence and dimly a baby two doors down. It was all around.  The sounds of tired small children at the end of a big day, waiting for their dinners, bath & bed. And I imagined the other mothers (or other carers) tired & stiff necked like me.  Possibly like me, waiting for their partners to come home and help break the bubble.

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