We’re in Pinamar and a friend of my two eldest kids has come over. They’ve made the garden-cum-forest their playground and within minutes they’ve become Indians and are racing around and hooting. They’re dodging gunslingers, sheriffs and villains – and from getting shot, scalped or burned at the stake. There they go now over there, running up the pine needle-covered slopes with sticks in their hands and now down the sandy bank over there and through the bramble and back up the other side and down again and up a tree. Now they’re at the clubhouse and then the top of the garden – the edge of what’s known to them. Beyond lies a great forest run wild with baddies. They gather together and talk hurriedly among themselves, seeming to confer on how to keep the house – and us – safe.
Or are they thinking of turning bad themselves?
There’s no time to think. They’ve rushed to a clearing in the garden and set about to build a bonfire, throwing in sticks and pinecones, bigger and bigger it gets. Now the friend has found a long stick and they’re jabbing it into the middle, all three of them working together to jab it down. The stake! They dance around the bonfire, round and round, hooting wildly, round and round. Then they stop and they turn and race down the hill to us the parents and the youngest girl, still too little to play such wild adventures. They’re rushing down the hill fast and gaining speed, their eyes glazed as if in a trance of their own war dance. The bonfire, the stake! And now they’re upon us and they start circling us. I pick up the youngest as the savages circle in closer, hooting and chanting what we cannot understand. The stake! I think.
Then they stop and my eldest daughter is the first to speak. “We’re hungry,” she says. The others join in. “We’re hungry. We’re thirsty. We want to watch TV. Please!”