musingsponderingsandrants

Parenting, profundities and humour

The Beginning of the End… — December 3, 2018

The Beginning of the End…

 

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And so the inevitable has happened. Eldest has acquired a girlfriend.

I really don’t know how I feel about it. At all.

On the one hand I am pleased for him. I have always maintained that he would benefit hugely from a close relationship which isn’t founded on taking the mickey or benching or rolling around in mud… and that’s just his siblings. His friendships with his male peers are even weirder…

Eldest is a deep thinker. Immensely caring. Thoughtful. He has a lot to offer and a lot to gain from a close friendship with a girl.

But on the otherhand it feels like the beginning of the end.

My time as the main female in his life is in its death throws. I know it happens to us all. I just wasn’t ready yet to have a rival for all that love and affection.

Being the mother of boys is an immense privilege. They learn how to treat women from you. They learn to understand how we tick. They worship you. When they are little they run to you in a way daughters don’t. It seems odd but that is how it has always been with mine.

And letting go even ever so slightly hurts. Just a little bit, but it hurts.

So make the most of those hugs and kisses and special times when warm fuzzy heads nestle in your arms and sticky hands clasp at yours for before you know it they are  6 feet tall and you have to stand on tiptoe to steal an occasional kiss.

My beautiful boy. Let’s hope I have equipped you to be the best boyfriend you can be. You are certainly a wonderful son.

Love Mum x

Use it or Lose it… — September 20, 2018

Use it or Lose it…

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So here is a little known fact about me…I am the proud possessor of a Bsc Chemistry degree. First class no less. From the University of Sheffield.

So here is how my education panned out. I found boys, specifically A boy, when I was 14. I got into RPG and cheap beer from cans and rock music and wandering aimlessly about woods and such. I hit a minor rebellious streak and didn’t work hard enough for my O levels. Despite being an A grade student my whole life (excepting Games where I got a C3 every single time, please see Jolly Hockey Sticks for more information on that) I didn’t achieve anywhere near enough of those As at O level.

So my grades were not spectacular. Certainly not by today’s standard. I am not sure I would have hit the grade average now required to gain entry to my children’s school’s Sixth Form. Luckily for me such things were not so much of an issue then. I passed. I did well in the subjects I wanted to take at A level, namely Maths, Geography, Chemistry oh and a bit more Maths.

I kissed goodbye to analysing Shakespeare and conjugating verbs and drawing under pressure and I could not have been happier.

So I worked for my A levels. I really wanted to do Geography at University. But my Human Geography teacher (a Mr Pollard if I recall correctly, just out of teacher training, red trendy glasses, tight trousers, very evangelical about ribbon development and economic modelling, once had an interesting conversation with him about JJ Cale and cannabis in a record store whilst on a field trip in the Cotswolds) was not enamoured of my essay writing skills, believing me really a scientist at heart and not properly invested in Maslow, had not predicted me a particularly great grade.

Even combined with the much better predicted grade from my Physical Geography teacher (Mr Jones, never happier than when discussing plate tectonics, had seen my zeal for measuring river discharge when I was up to my thighs in a freezing stream on that same Cotswolds trip, had a very boring conversation about riffles and pools on a bus) it was not good enough for most Universities.

I was sick of Maths and anyway I was struggling in Further Maths with the ‘ethereal’ quality of it all. I liked remembering equations, plugging figures in and getting a right (or wrong) result. Black and white. Further Maths wasn’t like that. Mr Rodgers (older, big bear of a man, took a group of us to the Albert Hall to watch the Proms, had great conversations about music) said that that was what University Maths was like. I decided to run a mile.

So that left Chemistry.

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do when I left education so choosing Chemistry didn’t seem a bad option. In any event I had been somewhat inspired during my extra special Chemistry sessions for proper geeks run at lunch times by Dr Galsworthy (just out of teacher training, complete dream boat, never had any sort of conversation with him as I could not string a sentence together in his presence) where we got to use all the intricate glass ware which fitted together so satisfyingly and produce such fascinating compounds as limonene. I still have the certificate for that extra bit of Chemistry. Still not sure what I took. It didn’t matter. Dr Galsworthy.

And I loved the logic of it all… atoms forever searching for completeness, a bit like me with Dr Galsworthy, it all appealed to my pubescent self…and fiddling about with explosions and Bunsen burners was always fun. I had a good predicted grade so off I trotted to Uni open days. They all loved me despite those questionable O levels because I was a serial joiner in-er; leading Brownie packs, ringing church bells, playing the double bass in the Youth orchestra and the like (just no sport…at all).

I did rather well in my A levels obtaining all I needed and more. Shoving two fingers up at Mr Pollard with my good result in Geography, delighting Dr Gaslworthy (I think he may have hugged me, or maybe that was just one of my fantasies) with my Chemistry result and fainting with surprise at my grade in Further Maths as I had a distinct recollection of sitting completely baffled in the Pure paper.

So I went off to Sheffield. I carried on with the RPG and drinking cheap beer, only this time from glasses, how civilised, and there was still quite a lot of wandering around aimlessly although this time in the Peaks.

Chemistry lost some of its logic and I seemed to spend the first year producing inorganic compounds which were invariably yellow powders or clear, colourless liquids that looked and smelled suspiciously like water. The labs, where I spent 3 hours every afternoon (except Wednesdays which was ‘sport’ afternoon-or ‘going to the Union and watching crap TV’ afternoons if you were me) were vast impersonal spaces full of out dated equipment and professors barking orders and trying to stop the 100 or so students from setting fire to each other or drinking those clear colourless liquids. All the mornings were taken up with lectures. It was like being at school with longer days and more work. And I smelled horrendous…

On the whole I enjoyed it. I gravitated to physical chemistry probably because of my maths background. I spent my third year practical sessions holed up in the liquid crystal department in the bowels of the basement carrying out experiments which took forever and left me a lot of time to draw, listen to rock music on my Walkman and generally mooch around in the gloom. My dissertation was finished. I took my finals and did my presentation on the results of all that waiting around to my peers. I left the Uni more than competent in Chemistry.

And since then I have had no use for the subject. I ended up in banking (it was the early 90s, jobs were scarce and I just wanted to stop eating tuna and pasta and eat some red meat protein for once and so a PhD wasn’t really an option and no employer in chemistry was interested without one) and then as a full time mum. It got to the point were I needed to fake a coughing fit if there were any chemistry questions on University Challenge, and then Mastermind, and then Pointless and now Top of the Class. Moles once more became adorable burrowing animals. Condensing was an annoying process on one’s windows. Joules was a clothes brand. At a push I could still name chemical symbols in a pub quiz but that was about my lot. Silver and gold though….still tricky…

However as my children approach the sharp end of their school lives I am slowly falling back in love with chemistry. Middlest is currently learning about the atomic model and isotopes and last year Eldest needed help with ionic and covalent bonding (see it is such a lovely subject all that searching and bonding, it’s romantic really… Dr Galsworthy).

And yesterday Eldest needed to find out the specific heat capacities of certain elements and quote his source. I no longer believe Wikipedia for anything after an unfortunate incident with densities and so I thought I would wheel out my Physical Chemistry University text book. Sure enough it had the heat capacities required but in totally the wrong units. It involved indices. It involved moles. Still furry. I hurriedly put the book back…. and used some engineering site which we hope is right…it seems to take an awful lot of energy to raise the temperature of hydrogen according to their heat capacity. I should know if that is true or not. I don’t.

When I took to facebook to bemoan the fact that I no longer understood a SINGLE word of this particular text book (Atkins 3rd Edition) a friend, whose daughter is starting a chemistry degree at Uni soon, replied to say she had just bought said daughter the 11th edition.

Ouch.

So two things are true. One I am old. Beyond reckoning. And two. If you don’t use it you lose it.

Do Tell…. — May 22, 2017

Do Tell….

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There are many imponderables in the world. Such weighty issues as global warming, the general inhumaneness of human kind, the existence or otherwise of alien beings, whether there is an afterlife. Etc.

The main imponderables in my life, however, are slightly more mundane. Here is today’s list.

  1. Who left the used tissue in their pocket? Again. Thus ensuring a liberal coating of white bits all over the fresh laundry. This imponderable is a regular occurrence. Of course no one ever claims responsibility. Eldest has hay fever. Middlest has a cold. And Youngest watched a particularly sad episode of Monkey Life last evening. Thinking about it I was in tears too at the demise of Aris the 4 year old orangutan. So it could have been me. We had become very attached to Aris who had an endearing personality and so to see him being put down was tear jerking to say the least. The culprit remains at large. Of the used tissue. It’s bloody irritating. It’s not so bad when the washing goes straight outside on the line. The birds pick up all the ‘shaken off bits’ to line their nests. Unfortunately Eldest’s hayfever precludes his washing going outside so the kitchen floor also gets a liberal coating. No helpful birds there. Sigh.
  2. Why was Eldest on the second of 2 buses back from the school trip to the seaside. And why was that bus over half an hour later than the first bus. And why had they been given the same ETA. Necessitating me sitting in a baking hot car for over 45 minutes.
  3. Which annoying male member of my family has stolen from the kitchen one of the two Apple charging leads? And why has my husband started charging his Apple device there when he is in possession of at least two such charging cables in his personal charging hub in the spare room? Which must not be touched on pain of death. And why will I get it in the neck tomorrow when the boys’ phones remain uncharged?
  4. Why is going to be baking hot tomorrow when we will be spending all day on a football pitch and then ‘break’ on Sunday in time for our mini break to the coast? Actually this isn’t really an imponderable. Just Sod’s law. And normal for the UK. Of course I have packed today in 29 degree heat (again I could have done with the heat break today) and so will probably spend our mini break freezing due to inappropriate packing. I also spent a small fortune on sun cream. Should have checked that weather first….
  5. Why has Youngest been split up from her very best friend in next year’s classroom reshuffle. Total lunacy. I will be checking extra hard for used tissues tonight…
  6. Why, after extensive fruitless searches, did I today find my husband’s prescription sunglasses (£400 a pair- he has bad eyes and expensive tastes) hanging from the handle bars of Middlest’s scooter. In the garage. At least this time I found the lost item before it was replaced. Now that really would have been Sod’s law.
  7. Why do duvet covers eat other laundry in the machine but not all of it? And how do they turn inside out? I often ponder that. It must have a scientific explanation? No?
  8. Who thought up cricket whites? Just that really. Grass stains. Mud. Unidentified food or beverage based items. All these show up spectacularly and are devil to get out. Whoever did, invent them that is, never did laundry. Which I suppose when I do ponder on it makes sense. As it is a gentleman’s game. And they had servants. Middlest has me. There is a similarity there. I don’t like to ponder that. Much.

So there we have it. Today’s imponderables.

There are quite a lot of laundry related ones I note. Hum.

 

Social Pariah? — February 22, 2017

Social Pariah?

So tonight I am in the bad books.

Wednesdays are never a good day. A difficult confluence of clubs and activities means I spend the three hours between 4 and 7 more or less in the car and the kids eat sandwiches whilst I drive from one place to another. Tonight was so tight (it being football training week rather than Cubs week) that I ended up eating chips in the car whilst waiting for Youngest to finish said footie training.

Middlest spends a fair amount of time at home alone and no one gets any help with their homework or bag packing or other such stuff that I can usually be prevailed upon to assist with. For I am a soft touch. But not on a Wednesday. Because Wednesday is also the evening I try to get out to sing. Not tonight though. A late plane saw to that. Another story.

So suffice to say not much ‘mummy time’ is on offer on Wednesdays. And it shows.

Middlest was fine all evening eating his solitary sandwiches and tackling maths revision alone. We did have time to remark that the cress we had sewn yesterday in response to his Science teacher’s homework request to ‘germinate’ something had indeed germinated. (Their current topic is reproduction and, as Middlest stated, there won’t be many practicals so I guess she is trying to bring it more to life, literally and figuratively). She is the teacher famous for the homework ‘please produce a 3D model of a cell’ (in our case cillia, some girl got sperm). She has form. Luckily I am a mum who has time to pop out to get seeds that will germinate easily in less than a week. Not all will be so lucky. The runner bean is still in the airing cupboard…ungerminated.

But after his shower (which was somewhat marred by his brother having used his towel ‘by mistake’ and more over having not thoroughly washed the Rugby Sevens training mud off his body first) his mood had shifted.

I mislaid him. I didn’t notice at first as I was washing up all the sandwich boxes and snack pots and water bottles and sorting dirty Rugby Sevens kit and persuading Youngest out of her shin pads which involved me tugging heartily at socks which seemed by a combination of sweat and rain to have melded to her skin.

But he was absent. I went up the stairs and sure enough he was buried under his duvet at an unusually early hour. Something was amiss.

After some coaxing it transpired that I am the worlds worst mum because I do not allow him Instagram.

Now I recently signed up to Instagram mainly to see what all the fuss was about. And to be honest I still don’t see what all the fuss is about. But apparently Instagram has made it onto Maslow’s hierarchy of needs just, and I mean just, above food and drink for any right minded eleven year old.

He also mumbled something about X Box games that ‘everyone’ except him plays and talks about ALL day leaving him out. This from the child who pestered and pestered and pestered for months for an X Box so he could play Overwatch with all his friends. I relented at Christmas and now he has the blasted game no one plays it anymore. Except his brother who seems quite happy with it.

Unfortunately for my children I am the sort of mother who looks at age ratings and follows guidelines. More or less. People with much more knowledge and, let’s face it, time than me are paid to rate these things, I feel it churlish to ignore them.  I had bought him Overwatch at Christmas which is rated 12 here in the U.K. And he is 11 but I did plenty of research first and decided that was ok.

So anyway after comforting the child as much as possible whilst still saying ‘no’ (so not really all that much) and saying ‘goodnight’ to which I got a ‘Harrumph’ in return I decided to re look at Instagram. I was aware that some of Eldest’s friends were on it aged around 10 so thought I may have mis remembered the age rating.

Sure enough Instagram’s own Terms and Conditions state that their site is not for anyone under 13. So therefore I assume that in order for these children to be using it they have lied about their ages. With or without parental consent. Either is worrying.

I remember dimly an e safety talk I went to when a lovely policeman explained about the dangers of lying about one’s age on social media. That the ‘computer’ will think you are 16 or 18 when you are not. How their duty to protect you changes when you achieve such ages. How adverts are tailored based on ages. In short lying about your age is not just immoral but also dangerous.

So it is still a ‘no’ from me.

And as for Titanfall which ‘everyone’ plays that is also a no. I went on you tube and watched some actual game play. The commentator was busy explaining that he didn’t think the gore level was too high as you only see blood with a short range weapon such as a shot gun (!) when his avatar broke someone’s neck. So no blood. But certainly not all that pleasant.

So I will continue to be ‘bad’ mum. He will rant and rail. And I will watch his cress grow. And then so will he.

I won’t share a picture of it on Instagram.

 

Being Brave… — December 20, 2016

Being Brave…

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Recently I was given the chance to be brave. In my life there are not many opportunities to live that cliche oft spouted on inspirational posters and face book walls and old episodes of The Apprentice:- Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. My life is fairly humdrum involving many, many tasks none of which are particularly difficult or scary. Hard work for sure but not seat of the pants type stuff.

In the dim past when I was working most of my days were full of stuff that scared the living daylights out of me, presenting to clients, picking up the phone and cold calling, meteing out difficult decisions, lending millions of pounds and hoping it would be repaid and the like. But since leaving and having kids those sorts of activities have kind of gone away.

Yes I have had to be brave at certain times. Because life was shitty and the ill health of myself or others needed to be borne and soldiered on through. But that is a different sort of brave. That sort of brave is a braveness of necessity,  I am thinking here of optional bravery. When one puts oneself out there. But didn’t have to.

In fact this blog is the scariest thing I have done in sometime. Writing personally for the hopeful enjoyment of an unknown readership. But it is not an immediate type of scary. It is a ‘help only 3 people have read it today’ type of scary. And anyway in the scheme of things does that actually matter? Especially when one is up against Strictly Come Dancing The Final….

This sort of ‘optional bravery’ is all the more pertinent to me because my kids are often very brave in that sort of way. And often I am not all that understanding of what they are going through. In fact I may actually put them in situations they would rather avoid because of the bravery involved. I think I am helping them build their characters and so I encourage them to enter festivals and music competitions and reading competitions and sports competitions and….

And so often my boys are performing with their instruments such as at last week’s Christmas concert, or my Youngest is taking to the pitch as the only girl on the field, or one is playing piano in assembly, or singing a solo as Joseph age 9 (that was Eldest still one of my proudest moments as a mum), or playing an amazing violin solo at a small concert (Middlest age 10, OK Joseph is only joint proudest moment…). Etc. Last week Eldest gave a speech in the end of term Assembly in front of the whole of Years 7, 8 and 9. To be fair I hadn’t ‘made’ him do that, his form teacher had, but still it was a big ask for a 12 year old.  And every year they are all in the church Nativity Service on Christmas Eve when the whole village turns out to watch. They take music exams which I remember from my childhood made me feel physically sick.

And yes just before their performances I too get nervous, experiencing that butterfly in the stomach feeling on their behalf hoping they don’t muck up and make themselves feel bad. For although the cliche goes that it is doing it anyway that is important succeeding is also quite a biggy. Even if succeeding is just getting through it.

And so when my choir mistress asked me to sing a solo at our concert yesterday my immediate reaction was ‘Not on your nelly!’. But she asked me to think about it. So I did. Other than the fact that I was very flattered that she had asked me and therefore had faith in my ability to do it at least some justice, I decided I needed to ‘live’ that advice I often give my kids, that a little bit of bravery can deliver all sorts of rewards in terms of self esteem at a job well done.

I didn’t tell anyone beforehand. Mostly because my children have extreme versions of my ‘sympathy’ nerves and would have worried about me. Middlest was very nervous watching Eldest do that speech in Assembly last week. I didn’t want to put him through that too early in proceedings.

So they only knew when they turned up to watch.

And yes just before my slot my bowels went to liquid and my thighs got that awful achy, dead sort of feeling (which incidentally I also get when I drink alcohol which is why I don’t) which meant I felt like I might fall over, my stomach was doing somersaults and it was hard to catch my breath (not great for singing). But I got my note, breathed in deeply and went for it.

Afterwards everyone was very kind. One lady asked me if the kids on the front row were mine. When I told her that they were she replied that she had guessed as much because they had looked so proud.

And so I guess that is why I did it. To prove that bravery of that sort is for everyone. Even if they are 46. And I hope next time they need to deal with their bowels and thighs and stomachs and breath they might remember their mum singing alone in front of 250 people and decide it is worth the risk.

 

 

Brother Mine, Sister Mine… — July 31, 2016

Brother Mine, Sister Mine…

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I have three kids. Those of you who know me know this. Those that have bothered to read my ‘About’ pages will also know. As will regular readers. So for those of you who are new (where have you been?) I have three children. Two boys and a girl.

I had them close together. Deliberately. For a few reasons. One, I started late and needed to get on with it; two, I wanted them to get on; and three, I was very close in age to my own oldest brother and it worked well for us. There are three and a bit years between Eldest and Youngest. Middlest is, well, in the middle of that somewhere…

Overall it has been a good decision. My children are a ‘unit’. Wherever we go they are together. Ready made playmates. They are tight. It has always been the way and even now they are 12, 10 and 9 it still holds true, although Eldest is pulling away a little and tends to stay with us more whilst the other two maraude off.

But then his younger siblings also entice him into things he might otherwise feel too cool for. For instance recently at a local fair they persuaded him on a bouncy castle slide that his 12 year old self may have considered beneath his advanced years. Of course he had a ball.

They have a lot in common. A love of all sorts of sport. Playing and watching. Competitiveness. Music. The same school. Being outdoorsy. A liking  for terrible Disney Channel shows. Shared history. In jokes. A love of inventing madcap games (recently they spent four hours in the paddling pool playing water polo, in six inches of water)…

Even now, when friends are very important at school, they still spend all their weekends and holidays together. They don’t seek out friends particularly. Although they could knock on doors. They just ‘are’. Together.

Don’t get me wrong we don’t live in utopia. They fight, squabble, hurt each other deliberately and by accident. An awful lot. But fundamentally they do get on.

I really want this to continue. Although I know it will get harder as adolescence creeps in.

For instance tonight after a day spent in the pool on holiday and an hour of family football (which nearly killed me, I am sure I will find some energy to write about that at some point) Youngest’s hair was a chloriney, sweaty, tangled mess of knotted bum length strands.

She and Middlest got in a warm bath together. I hung around ready to assist with the hair washing. I wasn’t required. I merely spectated surreptitiously from behind the door as Middlest lovingly gave his sister a hair wash. Carefully applying and rinsing off shampoo and then conditioner. Advised by Youngest on how much and where to apply it. Tipping her head around in the shower to get all the suds out. Asking if the temperature was OK. I heard him remark that it was just like they ‘used to do after football’. Before we moved house and she got her own shower room. He had missed it. So had she.

I guess at some point a brother and sister will stop this sort of behaviour. For modesty.    Naturally. This might be the last year on holidays that they do such a thing. It nearly made me weep to think of it.

I am sure something else will take its place instead. I hope it does.

For what great lessons they learn from each other. How to treat the opposite sex. How to be a decent member of their own gender. How to fall out and make up. How far to push. How to negotiate. How to fail. How to say sorry. And how to be unconditionally loved.

 

 

 

Living in a Bubble? — June 26, 2016

Living in a Bubble?

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So just a day after I wrote my last post Should We Stay or Should We Go the almost unthinkable happened.

The Great Britsh public voted to go.

My husband told me the news at 5am on Friday morning. To begin with I clung onto those last thirty odd areas yet to declare hoping against hope that the result would change. Of course that didn’t happen. It was like watching a car crash. In slow motion.

It is now Sunday. And I am still in shock. The expected turmoil happened on Friday. And now we are in the eye of the storm, awaiting fresh turmoil tomorrow.

I don’t know what to think. I know I feel worried and angry and ashamed. Both personally and for the wider situation.

I had to turn the television off on Friday. As party leaders fell. And sterling crashed and burned my brain couldn’t really take anymore. I made cup cakes.

I sometimes think I am guilty of living in a middle class bubble. I often deliberately avoid the news. I think it is a form of self preservation. When I ponder on such enormities as global warming my mind starts to shut down. The fear I feel about what the future holds for my children and grandchildren is too much to contemplate. And yes I recycle and turn off the lights and turn down the thermostat. But I don’t march or sign petitions or campaign.

I just cannot. To admit it is to make it real. And I am coming to the conclusion I am a bit of a coward…

And so I will never be an activist. Even though I do feel passionately about things. I will do my little bit locally helping govern our school, sitting on the neighbourhood planning team, writing minutes for the Scout group, volunteering at jumble sales, baking cakes. But I won’t be marching in the capital. Setting the political world on fire. Making a real difference. I am not proud of it. But it is reality.

But then I hope to bring up three children with the sorts of values I think are important. Instill in them tolerance and altruism and the ability to try to see both sides of an argument. And maybe that will be my lasting legacy.

I read more stuff today on the EU situation. The racist incidences which seem to have been unleashed. Stories of people losing jobs or being asked to relocate. The implosion of our political parties. Graduates having job offers withdrawn. The Far Right bandwagon rolling with increased momentum. The possible splintering of Great Britain. The lies being exposed. Maybe it is hyperbole. And maybe not. In any event that fear was back. With avengence.

And again I had to stop reading.

Today we were all tired from a lovely evening out with friends. And so in the end we all watched Independence Day on the TV. Oh the irony. I found myself thinking that it could be worse. We could be being invaded by aliens.

Proper aliens. From outer space. I’d be happier if our world had been turned upside down because of that.

 

Piggy in the Middle — June 12, 2016

Piggy in the Middle

middle child

You often hear about ‘Middle Child Syndrome’. Well maybe you don’t but I have read a bit about it. As I have a middle child. He is very precious to me, as much as the other two, but Middle Child Syndrome suggests he won’t feel that unless I make a special effort. He will feel invisible. More prone to depression. Have nothing special to call his own.

I have a tendency to believe all such ‘syndromes’ are, frankly, bollocks. We make out of life what we can. But still I occasionally ponder it. As I am now.

And here is why. This weekend I have been able to spend a bit of time alone with Middlest. This hardly ever happens. When he was born I already had Eldest, a demanding toddler at the time. He hasn’t really got much less demanding over the years. He is a deep thinker prone to over-analysing and over stressing. He sucks up attention. And that is not at all his fault. It is partly because he does everything first and so such events as starting Senior School seem a big deal to me as a parent doing something new as well as a big deal to him. When the other two do it I am blasé. And expect them to be so too.

By the time Middlest was himself a toddler Youngest had come along and turned our lives upside down. She is my only daughter and so my relationship with her is different. She gravitates towards me and always has. I can remember a period when she was about two when she would not let anyone else do anything for her except me. Flattering but exhausting. She had me all to herself for two years once Eldest and Middlest had started school. And those two years were amazing. We both had a lovely time.

And then there are three of them and two of us. Naturally Middlest is often in a pair if we split them up. That is because he is great mates with both Eldest and Youngest. They have hobbies in common. Middlest has never been left ‘home alone’ whilst the other two go away camping for instance. He is always one of those doing the camping with one or other of the other two. If you catch my drift.

When Middlest was little he had numerous outpatient clinics for various minor medical issues; eyes, diet, asthma. We loved those afternoons with appointments. I would pick him up from school and we would go off alone and sit in a waiting room together chatting away. He still fondly remembers making a dodecahedron out of plastic hexagons that slotted together whilst waiting in the Moorfield’s eye clinic waiting room. That must be five years ago.

Being able to have time alone with him this weekend is happening mostly because Youngest is at Cub camp and we are down to two children. We can divide and conquer.

So yesterday we walked to his football tournament alone whilst Eldest and husband went running. The walk lasted about ten minutes. They were a good ten minutes though. Of all my children Middlest is the easiest to have a conversation with. I am  not saying I do not enjoy time alone with the other two but Middlest has this way about him. He is intelligent, perceptive and gently amusing. He listens well and makes thoughtful observations. He is eloquent. He is still young enough at 10, nearly 11, to care about what I say.

So in those few short minutes we discussed the EU Referendum and some of his friends’ frankly bizarre opinions on the same.  We came to some conclusions. Namely you shouldn’t believe everything you read and hear. Unless I tell him something, obviously.

Today husband went cycling with his mates as is his wont on a Sunday morning. Eldest had some language revision to do so I took Middlest to town to collect his new glasses and buy a birthday present for his Grandma.

It was lovely. Truly lovely. We chewed the cud. About all sorts. Marijuana. Balconies. School. Scouts. Girls. The EU again. And our lack of time together.

I would love to spend more time with him alone. With all of them actually. Life gets in the way. It is hectic and full on. I must try harder.

Just as we pulled back into the driveway Middlest asserted that in our average week of chaos the only time he gets me to himself is on the drive from home to piano lesson and later back. That drive lasts about three minutes.

As he put it “It’s not a very long time, mummy, but I really enjoy it!'”

Me too, son, me too.

 

Hard Drugs… — February 1, 2016

Hard Drugs…

Well that got your attention.

This entry will probably disappoint those searching for my seedy past. Which doesn’t really exist.

No this is a post about Eldest. And before you call Social Services he doesn’t use mind altering substances either. Well unless you count sugar. And Toxic Waste. Look it up if you don’t understand that.

This weekend Eldest turned twelve. It is not much of a milestone. Well only in as much as any year is a milestone in a child’s life. And that of its parents.

And then today I was queuing up in Boots for yet another large bottle of Calpol. 6+ Calpol. And the pharmacist asked me how old the child was who was going to use it. In case I didn’t understand the name 6+ Calpol… I replied that he was twelve. And he retorted that in that case I could give him actual pills of paracetomol. And I realised 12 is actually a milestone year. He no long needs to take his pain relief in liquid form via a large, squeezy syringe.

I nearly burst into tears. Right there in Boots. Rather embarrassingly. I still bought that Calpol. As Middlest and Youngest are, well, younger. But still, a bit of me died.

Parenting is like this. There are little things that you do routinely for what seems like years. And then one day you realise that you are no longer doing them. At least for one child if not all of them.  And further, you don’t really remember the last time you did do it. It just stopped at some point. And even though you realise this it keeps happening with the same child and with subsequent ones too. It cannot be anticipated. These things just stop. On a random Tuesday. It is only in hindsight that you notice.

Some of the things are a relief. Like bum wiping. And nose wiping.

Some are heart breaking. Hand holding. Bedtime story reading. Getting goodbye kisses at the school gate.

And some are surprising. Like no longer providing pain relief in liquid form.

Ah Eldest. Where did the years go? It is a cliché. But it is true. Time flies. And before you can blink that sweet baby is as tall as you and wears shoes two sizes bigger.

He will always be my baby though. My sweet, sweet baby. X

 

Music… — December 10, 2015

Music…

Recently I made a discovery.

I am becoming increasingly tired of Steve Wright in the afternoon. His radio show does not appear to have evolved much. I used to listen to him on Radio One as a teenager and the format on Radio Two isn’t much altered. Only he is now over 50. And I am over 40. And it no longer works. To my mind.

In desperation I searched in the glove box of my car. I was in that hour and a half of school pick ups and needed music.

Under the CDs of party songs for kids, nursery rhyme compilations and audio books (Dahl and Walliams mainly) I found a dusty CD. It was called Music of the Millennium. I sincerely hoped it meant the last Millennium…

I didn’t remember purchasing it. I didn’t recall putting it in the glove compartment. So I stuck it on ‘shuffle’ and gave it a go. Anything was better than more ‘factoids’.

And I am glad I did. In the manner of all good mix tapes it took a  meandering stroll through my musical history. As the first instantly recognisable strains of my favourite band of all time came over the speakers I knew I was in for a sing along nostalgia fest.  Bohemian Rhapsody. So many memories of drunken renditions. In mate’s lounges tanked up on McEwans Export, at work’s Christmas parties, at Karaoke and other places too numerous to mention. Not my favourite Queen track (which would be too hard to pick- it depends on my mood although Seaside Rendevous always makes me smile and These Are the Days of our Lives always makes me cry…). But certainly the most iconic.

Next up another favourite. One of my ‘go to’ artists. Probably because my dad liked him and had Goodbye Yellow Brick Road on double LP. In that time when LPs were works of art. Again not the track from Elton I would have picked (which would probably have been Roy Rogers- the most melancholy song in the known universe) – Candle in the Wind- ruined for me forever by its overly sentimental remaking on the death of Princess Diana. But still in its original form a classic.

Into the Eighties next. Every Breath You Take…A love song to end all love songs. Perfectly capturing the intensity and overwhelming’ness’ of my first love affairs. The claustrophobia of early teenage romances. The jealousies. The uncertainties. The insecurities.

In a weird ‘shuffle’ moment we went winging back to the 70s and my childhood. Stayin’ Alive. The furore of Grease and Saturday Night Fever when I was around eight. If you hadn’t seen Grease at the cinema 13 or 14 times you weren’t up to much in my school playground. To be honest most of it went over my head. I didn’t see Saturday Night Fever until a few years later. I didn’t really enjoy it. Except for the music. Perfect disco tracks. Still floor fillers today.

Next on, two tracks for which I often risked battery wear down using the rewind button on my Walkman. That personal cassette player was my most prized possession. I never went anywhere without it. I spent a great deal of my 4th, 5th and 6th form years walking. Between my house and boy friend’s. To school. To clubs. I was always listening. To something. Risking being run over.

Purple Rain and In the Air Tonight. Both favourites. For me accurately capturing the raw emotion I was feeling after the break up of my parents’ marriage.

Prince  (or whatever he is now known as) has always been a secret favourite. Purple Rain – messy, shouty, complete with guitar feedback- I love it. And actually this probably is my Prince song of choice.

I can clearly remember the first time I heard the Phil Collin’s track. Sitting in my ex boyfriend’s lounge one Christmas. He must have been given the album as a gift. It sounded as desolate as I was feeling. Those incredible drums startling me half way through.

The only thing missing from this compilation to totally capture that time in my life is Bruce Springsteen- specifically I’m on Fire- ‘It’s like some one took a knife, baby, edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley through the middle of my soul’- it seems almost sacrilege to me that Bruce does not even appear on the list…

And others followed as I drove and then sat in my car…Bon Jovi, university head banging, Blondie, watching Top of the Pops with my brother, U2, sixth form, George Michael, all grown up from his Wham days making beautiful music… and on.

Just as I was about to leave the car to trudge up the hill to collect the off spring a final track started up. Wuthering Heights. Ah my, now that was an anthem of some of my friends and me. Mostly sung by and in a lake. Weird. Odd. Like us. I didn’t really want to get out of the car. I played it later to the kids. They agreed. Weird.

The compilation also contains tracks that are not really up my alley. A lot of 60s. A lot of 90s. I suppose they had to. It being songs from the last Millennium. And so like all compilations there are bits I love and bits I find a bit meh and bits that get me reaching for the Skip button. Now such a thing exists. I could have done with that on my Walkman when playing Now That Is What I Call Music 4.

But in a kind of unique moment in time, just on that random Tuesday afternoon, in the banality of the hours between 3 and 4.30pm, my car CD player’s shuffle function decided to take me on a walk down memory lane.

Perfect…

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