musingsponderingsandrants

Parenting, profundities and humour

Let Somebody Go… — May 18, 2022

Let Somebody Go…

This Friday Eldest is leaving school.

I am just leaving that there.

For me that sentence takes a while to settle. Like a heavy stone on my chest.

I seem to have been preparing for the big day for a long time. Sourcing school shorts big enough for him to wear on the last day as if he were still in the junior school (it’s an upper 6th Leavers Day tradition). Helping him apply to university. Providing food and support during the endless rounds of revision. Attending and supporting the ‘lasts’ of everything. Last Christmas concert, last Spring Concert, last rugby match, last hockey match, last cello lesson, last Monday…..

Throughout this process I would like to say that my overriding feeling is pride at the amazing young man he has become, which of course I am. Because he is.

But what I feel the most is unbearably sad.

“I called the mathematicians and asked them to explain. They said love is only equal to the pain”.

Coldplay ‘Let Somebody Go’

Witness — February 11, 2022

Witness

You small patch of uninspiring mud
And tangled shrubs and broken bricks and sporadic grass
Graveyard of deflated, lost spheres
from games long over
Revealed in winter’s barrenness
What witness you have borne

Zip wiring teddies hung by their ears,
Trebuchets of poles where once beans scrambled
Paint mixed from gravel, water daubed fences
Chalk emblazoned flag stones
And shelters of sheets.

Naked abandon in sprinkled water freezing
Tepid pools deserted after one day of sliding
(For bugs and grass and rain)
Sun hats (with flaps), sun suits (with reluctance)
Surprise cricket matches (with Grandmas)
Police cars, and red cars, and skateboards and diggers.

Hot wheels on hot days out of the window
Ping pong and croquet (wood worm still allowing)
Bouncing and flipping and screaming and laughing
Tap tap of sticks and off cuts of carpet
Records broken in ruined socks.

Snowflakes on sleeves in wonder and confusion
Food sprinkled for four hoofed sled pullers
Snowman delivered by hand to the door
Water in guns and frozen in balls
And countless battles amongst boulder strewn fields

Fights with the shiny hard orbs of autumn
Harvesting melons and raspberries and cucumbers
(And strawberries, yellow and black soldiers permitting)
Birds logged and counted and nest boxes mounted
Teaching and watering and digging and planting

Muddy circles on free flapping laundry
Lost spectacles found in peg bags
Stumps and posts and nets and bare patches
Paint on tables and dollies in baths
And photos and photos and photos and photos

You small patch of inspiring mud
And exciting shrubs and useful bricks and field of dreams
Collector of lost but now returned spheres
For games still to come
Rediscovered in winter’s barrenness
What witness you have borne

School run — September 10, 2021

School run

On Monday all three of mine went back to school for the first day of a new year.

I forced them to have the obligatory ‘first day back’ photo which has happened every first day back since 2008 when Eldest started in reception.

Actually I lie there was one year when I forgot. That came up on my FB memories recently. I did a second day back shot instead.

This year’s shot had the same poignancy as that first ever photo in Sept 2008. And that is because it is the last time all three of them will go back to school for the start of a new year.

Somehow those 13 years since that little boy set out into the academic world in his grey shorts and with his shy smile have trickled away.

When you have a baby and the days seem interminable, one long round of feeds and nappies and crying, older and wiser parents tell you to cherish the moments as the years will fly by.

Of course no new parent takes this advice on board. We all rush for the next steps. The weaning, the crawling the standing, those precious words, using toilets. The first question is always ‘Is he crawling yet?’ or ‘How much weight did she put on last week?’. Wishing away the time, striving for the next milestone. Worrying about any perceived delay. As if it matters. Which it doesn’t.

To be honest I did find the early months of Eldest’s life long and tedious. The days were cold and the nights long and dark. I was bored and tired. I didn’t enjoy his babyhood. He was hard work as a baby (and I only knew this once I had his siblings) or maybe I made hard work of it. Probably the latter.

But once Middlest and then Youngest came along life sped up. I enjoyed their toddler hoods and their preschool years. We were a tight knit foursome and had a great social life.

But then the treadmill of school kicked in. The years suddenly became punctuated by half terms and reports and parents evenings and the holidays rushed towards me at hurtling speed.

And then the move to secondary school sees time hit the turbo button. The tests and assessments. The week full of clubs and sport and music lessons and driving. The endless driving. The holidays offered some respite but were still full of activity.

Even a pandemic didn’t seem to slow it down much. Those terms with them learning at home, which I secretly enjoyed, still whipped by. Even when only allowed out once a day.

And then you suddenly find that you are at the end. You paste on a happy face whilst discussing unis and being treated almost as an irrelevance by your teens, except for that endless driving (which of course you are doing all wrong) and food and cash.

I dropped mine off this morning as I have done every day for years. I remembered the countless days of discussing homework and teachers and mates in the car. Singing along to disney hits. Cursing the traffic. And it hit me that those countless days weren’t countless at all. They were finite and precious.

And although I have made the most of them I know that many have been done unconsciously, almost carelessly. With rush and stress and hurry.

And I think it will be those moments I miss the most. The little gems of conversation and humour. And also the rows and annoyance that dragging 3 kids to school entails.

Even though I will still have one year left with Middlest and another couple after that with Youngest, once Eldest leaves that dynamic will change.

And so almost too late one realises that all those older and wiser parents were right.

Time really flies.

Here we go again on our own… — November 1, 2020

Here we go again on our own…

Perhaps my favourite Whitesnake track. I have slightly paraphrased.

Staring down the barrel of a new lockdown here are my thoughts so far.

It felt inevitable. And now it feels late.

It is slightly better than March as there seems to be a genuine desire to keep kids at school. Which is a good thing.

And yes I get that teachers are scared. Hopefully less community interaction for all, students and staff alike, will mean less incidence in the classroom. And safer classrooms. Whatever the pros and cons I am grateful to teachers and other staff. My kids cannot take another extended period of on line education.

It feels worse than last time. This won’t be a cure. Like we hoped the last time was. It’s a braking mechanism. And this shit will probably happen again.

It’s really quite simple. That helps the message. Stay at home. No really. Except for all the bits of life that aren’t fun; education, work, medical shit, exercise and caring. Otherwise stay at home. If something makes you want to leave the house it’s probably not allowed.

We need to give up on Christmas. Grieve it a bit. Not live in a false hope. Others have given up Eid and Diwali and other major festivals, Easter was locked down. We can and should give Christmas up too. Yes it’s shit. But hey what isn’t.

It’s winter. Enough said.

I need to start getting my head around all the stuff that will never be the same at least not whilst my kids remain at home. Things that probably won’t happen like their last school orchestral concerts, proms, first XV or first XI matches, ever seeing a teacher in the flesh again. So far I have been too chicken to face them. But I need to face this shit. Grieve and move on. Act like the adult I am supposed to be.

Being the adult is shit.

I am going to miss fireworks.

The tardiness of our inept Government at least means we got a 2 day caravan holiday and I got all my kids’ eyes and teeth checked, Middlest’s shoulder and neck osteo’d and all their hair cut.

By a strange co-incidence I have a haircut booked for Weds. I had a haircut booked the week before the last stay at home order. I may grow my hair. I seem to be tempting fate.

I don’t like having to have to console my weeping daughter who cannot conceive how she will get through the next four weeks without sport. She will of course. She has food and warmth and love. And is ok. Shifting down the Maslow hierarchy of needs is never fun though. In fact it’s shit.

Although I am glad school is open learning without any of the fun bits could be quite shit, especially with all the windows open. I pray for mild, unseasonable weather.

My second child looks increasingly likely to miss his GCSEs as well. And no, no one wants to not take them to avoid them. It’s stealing; the experience, the opportunity, the hard work to date, the sense of achievement, or failure.

I need to get my Christmas mojo on and actually order some gifts. It is going to be shit enough as it is I cannot give into despondency and not buy thoughtful and welcome gifts for my loved ones. Especially my kids, who need whatever magic we can wring from the festive season this year.

I am bit low on loo roll. Which would be literally shit.

I might read some of those books I meant to read last time; after I have finished re-reading Riders. Which is all my shit for brains brain seems able to cope with currently.

It could be worse. Could it?

It occurs to me that I have used the word shit a lot. Whatever your position in all this I think we can all agree that that is highly appropriate.

Stay safe folks.






Eldest… — January 28, 2018

Eldest…

So there is likely to follow an unashamedly schmaltzy and over the top piece about my son. I am allowed. Just this once.

Soon my first born son turns 14. In fact next Tuesday.

So what can I say about Eldest?

That he is becoming a lovely young man. Standing nearly six feet tall. Strong and handsome. And that this is hard to believe. It seems like yesterday that he was a babe in my arms. A 14 month old learning to walk with a sock in his mouth. A toddler with a sturdy, determined gait caring for his new brother. A pre schooler quiet and shy. A small boy learning to ride a bike and play football, playing his first notes on the piano, making friends, learning to read and write. A ten year old struck down by appendicitis. A young man changing schools and bravely starting over.

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That he is empathic and friendly, unhappy when anyone is left out, able to get along with different ‘sets’ of friends.

That despite the onslaught of hormones and puberty he has on the whole remained respectful and kind and fun to spend time with.

That he is still a mummy’s boy. Happy to have a kiss goodbye (surreptitiously) in the school car park. Snuggle on the sofa and accept bedtime hugs.

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That he likes Vera. And Batman. And Arrow. And will bore to death anyone who happens to be in ear shot about Marvel films.

That he is a fiercely loyal sibling. Despite the usual fracas and bickering underneath he ‘gets’ his brother and sister. He coaches his sister in football. Wrestles with his brother. Bosses them around far too much. Loves them.

That he loves history. Has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the World Wars. Likes museums and art galleries.

That he is a dedicated and talented musician. Playing the cello with feeling and passion. Practising every day to meet his own very high standards. Playing in groups and performing in shows despite crippling nerves.

That he is his own worst critic. Nothing is ever ‘good enough’.

That he has always been the inventor of games and the ringleader in playtime. From home made trebuchets, to duvet surfing, to extreme hot wheels.

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That he reminds me of me.

That he likes to cook. Although time does not allow this as much as it should. That we still laugh about the carrot and orange soup and the lemon ‘flop’ meringue pie.

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That he has an amazing work ethic. In every area of life. Always tries his best. Listens and learns.

That he is an artist. With creative ideas and talent to match. Taking himself upstairs to draw and producing art to be proud of.

That he takes perceived criticism much too much to heart and forgets all the praise and accolades and prizes.

That he is a team player. Loving his rugby and hockey. Working hard to get onto and stay in the team. Not a monopoliser of the limelight. But quietly doing his bit. A vital team member.

That he always notices. My new hair cut. New clothes. That he will call and chat to his grandma with love and affection. That he makes you feel appreciated. That he buys thoughtful gifts (except for that sabre toothed tiger).

That, although serious and on occasion earnest, he can be silly and loud and exuberant. Not as much as I would like. That when he smiles the sun comes out.

That he has always been an eating machine. And that recently he has found the turbo button.

That he loves the outdoors. Camping and cycling and Scouting and mud. Can map read (ish), start fires, hike, orienteer, climb. That he is adventurous; facing his fears after a thorough risk assessment of course.

That he worries too much. About making the grade. Being good enough. Hitting some ‘ideal’ of what achievement is about. Driving himself to extremes.

When really he has always been better than good enough. He has always been amazing. And always will be.

Love you son. Just as you are.

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Happy Birthday!

Mummy

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