Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Bint in the Bathroom - Anne Rooney


Is the pram in the hallway really the enemy of creativity? Or is it the bint in the bathroom? A small baby can be worked around, to a degree. I sat at the computer with Big Bint (then very small) strapped to my chest and typed. As they get bigger, it gets harder. The Spacehopper in the Study is a tricky stage, fraught with breakages and tears on both sides. But they go to school all day, and some time is freed up for work. And then they hit binthood and the whole edifice comes crashing down.

Those sacroscanct writing hours in the middle of the day - how did they get eaten up with driving forgotten homework to school, delaying the library visit to wait for eBay purchases of 'vintage' clothing identical to items I threw away in the 1980s, and kicking random sleepover boys off the computer at 10am? Then there are the long sessions of counselling the swarms of friends, the Oxbridge coaching of the brighter ones, the sourcing of eyeliners and of obscure dietary requirements... Yes, it drains writing time and emotional energy - and I wouldn't change it for the world. Yet change it will.

Big Bint is just finishing that strange limbo of the post-A level summer, and as the leaves fall, she leaves, off to start a new life in the Other Place as it's known in this city. It's a time to stop and reflect, as she stands poised on the doorstep. No, they have not hampered creativity. They have taken time and imaginative energy, but they have nourished creativity. They have brought a wonderful richness, both in themselves and their friends. Yesterday I gave a book to one of Big Bint's closest friends. It was a story I'd dedicated to him because he was the inspiration for the distinctive trait of one of the characters. He's generally a non-reader but he sat and read it and then said 'I like this book'. And that's what it's all about, isn't it? These beautiful bints (that's Small Bint above, binting herself up in the bathroom) have brought me all their wonderful young people and the wealth of their lives and experiences. I'm afraid I may have taken gold and spun it into straw.

Must go now - Big Bint and boyfriend need waking, and Small Bint is bringing eight bints and bint-boys to camp in the field tonight, and needs picnic hamper retrieved from behind a wasp nest in the big shed, and needs to go to town to buy a dress, and... it's all gold.

10 comments:

kathryn evans said...

Thank you for this, this is my life, and how true that they are the best part in it x

Jon M said...

Solid gold, certainly!

Gillian Philip said...

What a lovely post, Anne. Reminds me to try to appreciate the noise and mess a little more - I don't think I know how much I'll miss it when it's gone :-)

Wendy R said...

I remember this well - but that time when I had two under twos was when I started writing bigger stuff, somehow cramming it into the hour they were asleep during the day, or the hour before they woke up in the morning. They taught me to use and value headfree time.
But they brought a whole shaft of inspiration, ideas, ideals, disasters and challenges into my life which fired my inagination and beefed up my empathy muscles.
Children are a win-win situation for any writer...
w

Katherine Roberts said...

I often think I missed/am missing a lot of gold there... which is obviously why I get so distracted by much less glittery things like e-readers! Thank you for this lovely glimpse into bint life (and maybe we can have your e-book post next time?)

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Fortunately it won't ever stop and one of these days you'll have Big Bint's baby bint to entertain. I know... having just had a Saturday with every item of clothing & footwear dragged out of my cupboard for dressing up in... and every lipgloss reduced to pulp. Grandbints take up even more time than normal bints and find it fascinating to sit at your laptop and delete work too! But the gold they help spin is even more fragile and wonderful.

Sue Hyams said...

Lovely! And glad I'm not the only who finds her camera full of teenage-child-with-camera-in-the-mirror shots!

Lucy Coats said...

My lovely one's ascent to binthood has been challenging in many ways--but also wonderful, golden and full of companionship and laughter. I wouldn't change a minute of it either, Anne. Thank you. PS what do you call the boy version? Just curious. Is there an equivalent name? Grunthood, perhaps?

Kit said...

I saw a fridge magnet in San Francisco (wish now I'd bought it) that read, "It's not an empty nest till their stuff's out of the garage." So true! Mine have flown the nest but it's still full of their feathers. I can't wait to be a grandmother, despite all my good advice on contraception.

Stroppy Author said...

Update - the day after I posted this, Small Bint fell 8ft onto a concrete floor and broke and dislocated her elbow (could have been SO much worse). Big Bint went off to Oxford and caught swine flu. Both now improving, though Small Bint is still strapped up to look like a robot from a sci-fi movie. Makes you realise how fragile it all is...