It is a truism that loving a child does not mean you give it everything it asks for. We all know that.
Nevertheless if you did, the damage would usually be fairly limited. How much harm can you do by giving a three-year-old enough sweets to be sick; or a six-year-old, a pony? (Or our current one: a fifteen-year-old a pierced cartilage?) Not a lot, really.
The call is far harder when that child is not a child at all but a grown-up, so ill she needs looking after as if she were.
Much of the time, fortunately, Bink does seem to know what is good for her. Which makes it all the harder when she doesn’t. (Particularly when Data Protection emerges as considerably more obsessive than the patient, so you find yourself legally barred from helping the one you love and care for. In fact, it can be agonising... but I pre-empt.)
By 2004 Bink wanted us to move from our Vicarage.
I am not a moving-house kind of person. Serena is like me, I suspect. Indeed, in general Bink may be, too.
I become attached to a place, a city, a home, so much that I never, ever want to leave. When Shaun went on placement for a few weeks to Yorkshire soon after we were married, I became so acutely homesick in the first few days I had to go back down South again. It was pathetic. The people, the scenery, both utterly lovely; and they offered Shaun a permanent post. But I would have found it easier to relocate to Pokhara or Lusaka than to the beautiful Dales.
Our Parson’s Green Vicarage was not ours – in any way recognised by the Land Registry – but I loved it like another member of our family. So when Mrs Thatcher introduced a law against ageism and ruled out a compulsory age of retirement, I truly dreamt we might live there for the rest of our lives – or Shaun’s life, at any rate. Time was when vicars never retired...
In truth, Shaun had been itching to leave for some years. He – and we, with him – had rescued a dying church and filled it with children and young families, a Sunday School and music group, prayer meetings and home-groups and a choir, and much more besides. That very church for which the Bishop had instructed Shaun to “manage the decline” was now many times the size and thriving, and had been for some time. Shaun felt he had done his job. For a while now he had been staying on for the family, because we all loved it so much: the church particularly, but also Parson’s Green and the house itself.
And now, suddenly, Bink wanted to move.
She had been getting slowly, steadily better ever since she left the Unit. She was now attending MPW regularly, and doing well at her A levels. And she wanted a fresh start, in a new place.
It happened that year, that Shaun was offered his “dream” job, in our beloved city of Oxford: a post almost certainly designed around him. They hadn’t got accommodation for us yet, but it was a large and very rich church, easily able to buy a house for us and promising it would.
Bink’s desire to move wasn’t the only factor. But it may have swung it for me.
I’m not sure I ever sat down with her and ask exactly why she wanted to move. If I had, I would have discovered it was because she now considered the Vicarage “contaminated”. Not exactly the thinking of a well person, is it? Nor a very good reason for leaving...
So at the end of 2004, we left.
The worst decision we ever made. Bar none. For Bink herself as much as anyone. Even including the decision to let Bink go into the Florence Nightingale Unit.
(Though many years later even more harm was done to Bink, by giving her what she asked for.)