Institutionalised family life by Rhianon

We moved again this weekend just gone (twice in six months! Who would do such a thing? It’s the last I’ll say on it as the whole thing is seriously too traumatic for words). We’re now supervisors in a college residence (College III kids, I bid you hello!) with 230 students. Gulp. Plus, they put us in the quiet block, I guess under the assumption that a family had to have a lower volume setting than an eighteen-year-old fresh from the nest, right?

Wrong. Our morning routine echoes down the halls.

GETYOURCLOTHESONSWEETIEGOODBOYHAVEYOUBRUSHEDYOURTEETH? An attack of the tickle slugs can be heard through five corridors. Even reading a nice, quiet book becomes a raucous adventure when your five-year-old wants to impersonate the entire herd of elephants in it. Poor students, I bet they rue the day they voted us in.

We use the canteen for dinners, which is a massive change for us all. Imagine for a minute: No. More. Cooking. The hours you scrape back on shopping, cooking, cleaning are pretty phenomenal, and ds1 loves it. He's constantly asking if ‘the café’ is open so he can get a(nother – is that bad? – it’s pretty much every dinner now but I guess the novelty will wear off. Severe guilt borne of the fact I’m not cooking for them anymore.) chocolate pancake. And I was just getting him to help lay the tables and help with the washing up...

[advert:mpu]But it’s got me thinking about all those families who live their lives in institutions like these. I mean, ds1 grew up in London, he knows that the whole world isn’t made up of young, student types who’ll play with you like you’re their kid brother and play Celine Dion at full blast all night (I know, we should get danger money…). But the wee chubling will grow up in an utterly different world for the next few years and I guess that’s all he’ll know. How do you cope, all you other families living in hotels, barracks, schools & the like? How do you keep a hold of reality? How do you go back to it afterwards?

OK, so one final word on The Move: I have one large Ikea bag left to unpack. I remember ramming stuff in it at 3am the night before and it’s been labelled ‘more bloody stuff’. I haven’t missed anything so far, and I can’t think what’s in it. Besides, we’ve moved from a three bedroom apartment to a one bedroom one – a purge of redundant items has inevitably taken place. How long do I give it before I just chuck the whole bag in the bin without glancing in it?

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