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


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.

Eldest… — January 28, 2018


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Happy Birthday!



TV Dinners — July 19, 2015

TV Dinners

Here I am again…..still on holiday… I have a spare minute or two lounging on the balcony whilst husband gathers lunch…in a hunter kind of way….it makes him feel good….it may only be a very very very hot trip to the mini market a short stroll away but hey ho it if is good for his ego who am I to argue. Eldest has gone too. He needs to learn such manly pursuits sometime.

Middlest and youngest are watching dubious TV. The choice is limited it being Greece here. But they have stumbled across the Disney Channel which seems to play white middle class teenage comedies on a sort of loop. They find it totally hypnotic. It is preferable to the 24 hour doom and gloom on CNN. And anyway it gets them out of the sun for a bit.

I had an idea for this entry which I seem to have lost the thread of. Where was I?

Oh yes I remember. I came on to talk about electronics. Specifically children and electronic devices. But now I have told you that two of my three are currently sitting in front of one I feel a tad hypocritical. But then I have spent all morning in a pool with them playing ball, and races and diving for ‘sinking seal’. So I feel a little bit of me time is in order…this blog is me time by the way. And they are on holiday and allowed to choose to spend some time watching mindless TV, even if it is beset with horrific stereotypes and canned laughter of the worst order.

Scene setting done. One, I am not against electronics per se, two, my children have devices and watch TV, three, not sure but this sentence seemed to need a three….

What prompted this post was a phenomenon I have already observed at home but which has been brought into sharp relief here. And that is the use of electronic devices at dinner tables. What really brought it to a head today though was seeing this at breakfast. Yep breakfast.

Breakfast here is an all you can eat buffet. I have mentioned the queuing for bacon already. But the choices are really quite endless. My point in bringing this up is that it is not a passive affair. One has to get up, regularly in my family’s case, to refill your plate or glass. Luckily the walk from the table we inhabit to the groaning buffet is quite lengthy and goes a small way to compensate for the vast amount of calories on offer.

As such breakfast can be as long or short as you like. It is busy and noisy and in no way refined. As such I see absolutely no need for a child to be watching a film/ playing a game/ searching you tube on an electronic device propped up on the salt and pepper cellars. I find it distressing. Actually distressing.

I don’t really like seeing it at dinner either. Yesterday a group had set the adults up at one end of their table and the four children at the other each mining for something on a separate device. ┬áMy only hope is that they were at least ‘networked’ and able to meet up in the virtual world. I think you can do that in Minecraft.

I find this odd. There were four of them around the same age. Even if the adults did not want to interact at all with their offspring surely those offspring could have entertained themselves off line?

Or if the adults were worried that they were unable to sit ‘nicely’ at a table without the use of an electronic kosh they could have been left at home with a babysitter (10 euros an hour here I am told, quite reasonable at current exchange rates). Whose job would have been very easy as I don’t think I saw any of them speak the whole time we were there.

When we eat I like to talk to my kids. Even when they were little they joined in with the meal fully. Yes those meals were not extended three hour affairs and when we went out we made full use of those colouring books and pencils provided at many family friendly restaurants. But they joined in.

This morning at breakfast we ‘discussed’ plans for the day. We talked about possible future holidays. I regaled them, probably not for the first time, with stories of our past trips abroad. I embarrassed them by being overly demonstrative and animated. In short we interacted.

I was saddened to see a little girl sat in a highchair, dummy in in between ‘courses’ watching some kids TV show on her rubber protected I pad whilst mum and dad ate in silence, each on a phone. I guess it is somewhat equivalent to reading a newspaper. Those cliches of men retreating behind their broadsheet to avoid being drawn in. I don’t like books or papers at the table either.

And yes I don’t know the ins and outs of their families. Maybe they hate each other (odd to come on holiday to Greece though in that case). Maybe those children are extremely difficult.

But I see it so much that I cannot believe that to be the case all the time. I just think it is laziness. Or a lack of anything to say. Which is just sad.

Any how rant over. I must be off to save my children’s minds from the drivel they are sat in front of. And anyway I think I hear hubby and eldest returning with freshly hunted packets of processed meat and fried potato products. One must arrange one’s grateful and somewhat awed face. And take off one’s judgey pants…

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