Family life

“She is scary.”

The first week I stay with a good friend of mine. Her four-year-old has just returned from school and sits close to her mother on the other side of the large couch. She doesn’t dare to look at me. Apparently I am scary – even though we’ve previously spent dozens of times frolicking around together. Right now I am scary. The first step is the hardest. I happens to me more often that people at first don’t really know how to act towards me.

Fortunately the ice is easy to break. One hour later she hangs upside down around my neck. Her little brother crosswise on my lap.

Without any further hesitation I am totally adopted in family life.

It doesn’t come hard – except for the early rise. The domestic friendship is comfortable. Working with Tellytubbies in he background. Late night white wine and cheeses. Or relaxed sunken into our smartphones on the couch. Everybody at the same time in the bathroom, kids playing under the shower, my friend dying my hair. All ups and downs of family life pass by. And I am there.

For a week I am part of a life I could have had. A life many people expect you to have. ‘When will you move in together/have kids/ finally settle down?’ I hear these questions on a regular base. Usually my answer is a resolute ‘Probably never’ and the questioner is left bewildered.

The last morning I get up early to say goodbye to the kids. The 4-year-old doesn’t want to go to school. Tears well in her eyes while she is being strapped in her safety chair. The car door slams and I am just able to hear her say: “I like Esther, she has to stay!”

I swallow, take a deep breathe and wave them goodbye.