Tuesday, 22 November 2011
You might still find yourself reaching for their hand as you cross the road. Sure to be met with the certified 'Drop dead, Mum!' look.
You may still attempt to buy them gifts that are jokey, quirky and designed to appeal to the kid in them. With Christmas creeping round the corner, such things are still on the menu, non?! Cue the steely stare when they open the chocolate reindeer droppings.
You want them to be careful out there in the world; To avoid the pitfalls of everyday living; To be wary of the many pick-pockets in the city; To stay safe from harm. Watch out for those rolling eyes, you might trip over them!
Now, instead of making their baby steps before your very watchful eyes, your outstretched arms ready to catch them when they tumble, they're taking them in front of members of their most important peer group, most of whom mightn't give a rat's ass if they fall...
They're taking risks in the Big Wide World; They're walking tightropes high above tall buildings; They're juggling multi-coloured leather balls and spinning bright shiny white plates and you have to just watch and wait...
You don't want to live in their pockets; You want them to have their independence. You don't want to be the kind of Mother that falls apart when they're gone. You are braver than that.
So, I knock before I enter his student flat. We text before we are due to arrive there by car so that he has time to have a clean-around and remove any evidence, contraband...
Whatever it is, this is the time when he should be able to make his own choices in life.
I can only hope they are the right ones. We have done all we can to be 'good-enough parents', have we not?
I breathe fresh air in deeply and exhale further, puffing my cheeks out like Dizzy Gillespie.
I remind myself - He's not a baby any longer; I don't have to stand over him to make sure he brushes his teeth thoroughly. I'm not able to ensure he has the right amount of sleep each night, that he's eating properly, or that he's tucked up with a favourite teddy or blankie - In his case, a knitted kitty named 'Miaow'.
Life goes on. Of course it is a little emptier. Until the long holidays, vacations, when he's back again, taking up more space on the sofa than my husband, myself and three rats (his girlfriend's - we're care-taking them - Don't ask!) combined!
On my own blog, I tend to find myself writing a lot about loss. Love and Loss. Love and life.
We bring them up in life the best way we know how. We fight the battles we feel are the most important. And then our children are partially lost to us. Off to life itself. Their lives.
Oh yeah, it's Fhina by the way...
Thursday, 13 October 2011
When we plan, plot, support and hope for our children, whilst still at school intending to go on to university, it is a moment long into the future.
A rite of passage for them. For parents too.
Buying things together for their room in halls, Stationary. New duvet and cover. posters, prints. Books, More books.
Anticipation. Nerves. Tears.
Loading up the car. Will it all fit. Two trips perhaps?
Today my daughter and first born, woke with mixed emotions. Today was the day.
I loaded the car. Packed to the rafters. My tummy flipped. Told myself to get a grip. Lit a fag. Rolled down the window. Choked back a tear. Turned of the radio. Silence. Just my exhaling.
I arrived at my destination. Unpacked the car. Parked up. Walked into the hall and began to set up my stall.
Every moment that passed, every second, whilst I busied myself with my procrastinations; I was aware my daughter would shortly be arriving at University of Leeds Trinity and would be unpacking the car with her father, 89 miles away. I had planned and plotted for her, but I was not a party to her plans this past year.
Never take these moments for granted. They aren't a given. We have had many shared moments together. I should be grateful. I wanted to be there.
I spoke to her this evening and she seems happy enough. Homesick already, as the reality sinks in she won't be home (hers not mine) again until December. Reality bites.
For me it bites hard. People ask me why I stayed so long. I say because I didn't want to miss a thing.
What next the graduation? Will I be asked? It's not a given. Time will tell.
This time next year it will be my son's turn to leave for Uni.
Take nothing for granted.
Wednesday, 31 August 2011
To say we were disappointed is an understatement.
Anyway, I tried to be stoic about it; after all the flight was cancelled and if I'd even wanted to drive, we wouldn't have arrived in time. It was totally out of my control. I went with the flow.
She was with her dad and the college locked all the students into their dorms on the Saturday night till the worst of it was over. DC fared very well given what other places have suffered, but the college Starbucks is now sporting a large tree in the doorway, and the Queenager had to relearn her walking directions from dorm to classroom and back. (The fact that it's all within a few blocks didn't help her - she needs to know exactly where she's going otherwise she tends to end up in the next state.)
Her head is still in the Expat household as she's texting and calling quite a lot, but I know that will all change probably in the next week or so. I'm grateful that I'm not one of those mothers who's currently now panicking because it's been almost a week and no texts. Nothing. Zip. Nada.
However, it would have been more meaningful if the first ever text hadn't been -
Monday, 8 August 2011
He is about to embark on an 3 week tour of "cheap beers" around Europe with five of his friends. The thought of it fills me with horror. In my day, when we all went inter-railing around Europe our parents simply had to wave us off with our rucksacks and hope for the best. Now we have a means of spying on them, of tracking their route. Sort of like giving them a bar code or a little mini camera to put on to their heads. We can check in and even sometimes expect a reply. Now that he's 18 he has finally added me as a "friend" on Facebook so that I can see what they're all up to. Initially I was delighted - how wonderful to be able to share in his experience, but I have to say it's not for the weak hearted and I'm wondering if perhaps it was better for my parents who were blissfully ignorant about what we all got up to. Mostly it's all rather horrifying and you wish you hadn't looked...
My friend called me this morning. "OMIGOD, I've just had a look at Jack's photos and I'm quite sure, although his head is turned to the side that it's not a spot he's got on his lower lip, IT"S A NEW PIERCING! I'm going to kill him." I too discovered that my son had allowed himself to be branded with yet another tattoo whilst on holiday recently in Cyprus. Then you have to look at photos of them behaving badly in nightclubs and dancing on tables - "who ARE all those people he's with?" I constantly think to myself.
Still, it's a brave new world out there and we might as well get on it with them and I guess it's reassuring to know they're still alive.
What do you think?
The oral surgeon had explained what he would do, and she wasn't happy. Unfortunately, they were already growing off to the side and would create havoc if allowed to remain. Obviously I went with her, but I warned her that I wouldn't be able to stay during the procedure. (Had they given me the option, I'm not sure I could have stayed, but the option wasn't even there.)
They gave her a twilight drug and the procedure only took half an hour. I told her that she wouldn't be aware of most of it. That was the only thing I could do to bring her pulse down and take away the fear. When I went in afterwards, tears were trickling down her face. My heart broke.
I'm not sure what I'll be like if she ever had to undergo anything more serious, or if she ever gives birth. I remember when I went into labour with her. I phoned my own mum in England and told her I was going to the hospital. As we said goodbye I detected a crack in her voice and wondered why on earth she was crying. Obviously, she had an inkling of the agony that was to come, but I know now, that as a mother, she would willingly have taken my place if she could.
I think mothering is the hardest when we are powerless to take away the pain and discomfort.
Anyway, as I write, she's drugged up to her eyeballs, watching the Kardashians, so everything's OK now.
Saturday, 30 July 2011
It's all very well to sit in judgement of Amy's parents and upbringing, or the parents of her ex-husband who is deemed by many to be the cause of her decline. What the hell kind of parents were they? Couldn't they have done more? Amy's parents are accused of interfering too much, but wouldn't you do the same if your daughter was clearly under such a negative influence? And what if your's was the recalcitrant Blake Fielder-Civil? Excuse the French, but what an effing nightmare. While recognising that such a child had a severe problem, could you bear to throw him under the bus and admit that he might be the cause of someone else's continuing decline. Doesn't every mother see the best in their child?
I'm resisting the urge to use Amy's death as a "teachable moment" for my teens, one of whom is on the rock 'n roll track and needs no encouragement to live on the dark side. I do hope however that it gives us teen parents a warning to be both caring and vigilant. If I think my kids are at risk I will face their wrath as I confront them with it, curtailing their activities and their ability to purchase drugs. I will point them in other directions if I can, and I will use sticks and/or carrots to keep them on the up and up.
I am not their friend - I am their mother.
Friday, 8 July 2011
You may not know that my nineteen year old son, Grizz, has come back home from Uni for the summer?
He's been back home for about a month.
There have been a couple of tantrums.
It's worse when I wake him up too early by trying to wash HIS dishes from the night before in MY kitchen sink.
By too early I mean anything before 1 in the afternoon!
...Now he kind of brings his girlfriend back on a night or so a week too.
My living room is not mine own.
Ditto the telly.
I can't remember when I last watched something I wanted to watch...
I love having him here, but it's also a bit bizarre, as he's returned to form and acts like a Baby Bird with his beak open waiting to be fed, even though he's more than capable of cooking for himself, as he does the rest of the year at Uni.
Mind, he's moving out to his privately-rented, bijou two-bedroomed flat with a student friend in August, (they know one another from school and he's from a fabulous family, I've met his mother so I am comforted it's going to be fine...).
The downstairs Victorian garden flat is situated in a posh part of the city but very near to a green space.
Beloved of students and its residents alike. I'd describe it as a lovely, 'chi chi' area of town - with greenery and trees, cosmopolitan coffee bars, conventional drinking holes, restaurants and pretty little 'lifestyle' shops that sell haute fashion, fripperies, and Cath Kidston to yummy mummies.
I looked in a second hand jewellery boutique there only the other day and the prices almost made my eyes melt.
I'm wondering when I can move in??!
Oh, it's Fhina by the way...
Tuesday, 7 June 2011
Ok, I'm better now.
No. I'm not! I didn't think it would be this painful.
She's not ready. OK, scratch that! I'm not ready.
We finish high school FOR EVER on June 9th. Then we'll mess around for the summer, with a week of orientation in June, and then we'll come back from our travels and she'll go off to college in August.
She's told me that to mess with her bedroom will screw with her head for ever more, (poetic license) so despite the fact that it really needs a new paint job, I'll just go in there about
And I'll get a web cam so we can Skype.
My heart really hurts, people.
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Thursday, 19 May 2011
The Man-Child (otherwise known as Mr. Minimal) is one of those kids who puts 110% into anything that interests him, and 20% into anything classed as boring, pointless or tedious. (That would be most things academic.)
With a May 19th deadline looming, I finally got him and the Queenager to a chamber orchestra performance they are required to attend as part of being in the High School orchestra. They also have to write a brief critique of it. Once a term. Hardly a killer really. I had already warned them both that a "collaborative" paper wouldn't pass muster as their teacher had already expressed interest in reading their different viewpoints.
Of course, the Man-Child couldn't find the guidelines (required elements) so I suggested he take last term's paper and copy the format. What I didn't say was cut and paste the opening sentence, which the teacher had highlighted in red because it didn't make sense the first time round. He had also simply replaced words with other words for the sake of expedience. Except that the new words rendered the paper utter rubbish, and I told him so. I mean, "I was impressed with the way the symphony looked"?? Come on. First of all it was a chamber orchestra and not a symphony orchestra; second, only one of the four pieces was from a symphony; and third, a symphony is a piece of music, not a bloody shop window!
Some of the sentences didn't seem to have verbs, or if they did, they were to be found right at the end of the sentence, Latin style. And, he kept referring to "the songs". I'm sorry, did I fall asleep in the middle? I don't remember a single voice being raised in song.
At least he had the grace to laugh when I handed the paper back to him while calling it "Bloody rubbish".
Nice try son.
I have wished you something
None of the others would:
Not the usual stuff
About being beautiful,
Or running off a spring
Of innocence and love -
They will all wish you that,
And should it prove possible,
Well, you’re a lucky girl.
But if it shouldn’t, then
May you be ordinary;
Have, like other women,
An average of talents:
Not ugly, not good-looking,
To pull you off your balance,
That, unworkable itself,
Stops all the rest from working.
In fact, may you be dull -
If that is what a skilled,
Catching of happiness is called.
(This was written as a christening ode to Sally Amis, daughter of Kinglsey Amis)
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Me: I see there's that famous bloke coming to town to talk to the Science Society at your school.
Son: What famous bloke?
Me: The one who used to do funny science things
Me: He's the father of erm, that woman
Son: What woman?
Me: The one who's on the radio
Me: She's married to a DJ
Son: Vernon Kay?
Me: No, no, a proper DJ, does the spinning things with records
Son: Calvin Harris?
Me: No, an older one
Son: Fat Boy Slim?
Me: YES, that's the one!
Son: What's her name then?
Son: Zoe who?
Me: Ball! Zoe Ball.
Son: So it's her father who's coming to Spalding
Me: Yes, his name's something Ball.
Me: No, he's the singer
Son: Okay, Mr Ball, let's just call him John.
Me: That's it! Johnny Ball! He's coming. Do you want to go and see him?
Me: I just heard a good song this morning from Radio One's Big Weekend
Son: What was it?
Me: I can't remember.
Son: Who was it by?
Me: The Foo Fighters.
Son: Was it Everlong?
Me: No idea.
Son: Well, how did the song go?
Me: I can't remember now.
Son: What, nothing at all?
Me: No. Say a few more of theirs.
Son: Pretender? Best of You?
Me: Doesn't ring a bell. Actually it might have been Chasing Status?
Son: Chase AND Status
Me: That's what I said! What do they sing?
Son: Let You Go? Blind Faith?
Me: Oh I don't know.
Son: Mum, you're really annoying. Try and think.
Me: I've got it! It went "I've got a feeling...oooh....oooh.....that tonight's gonna be a good night"
Son: That's the Black Eyed Peas.
Sunday, 8 May 2011
My word, it's been a little quiet around here lately... Where is everyone?!
I've been less than chatty here as I haven't had a lot to write about. As you know, my son, Grizzler, is away at University. It's only about 20 miles from home so I still manage (if he doesn't outrun me first) to get my paws on him for a cuddle, or to steal a begrudging kiss of his cheek, about every couple of weeks. For the rest of the time, he's living relatively independently, he hasn't starved, and he's managing to get by and to get himself out of bed to lectures on time for the most part. Hip, hip, hooray!
I know when I first started writing here at Mad, Manic, Mamas, when Sara and I decided to launch a blog to help parents of struggling teens, (or should that be struggling parents of teens?), I wanted mainly to vent at how tough I felt it had all become.
...I wanted to feel less isolated in coping with issues presented by living with teenagers; Like how difficult it was coping with the Teen Tantrums, which had turned out to be far worse than Toddler Tantrums.
Those years when you worried endlessly about what was ailing them, because they had no voice, only to find yourself years later, roundly berated and shouted out, sometimes on a daily basis because a sock couldn't be found or a hoodie wasn't dry enough to wear...
And people kept on saying that things would improve. That, in time, the relationship between Mother and Son would be restored.
And that day - those days - finally came.
Distance has given us absence, and indeed fondness. He tells me that he loves me once again. He texts me with the treasured words that I'll never delete them from my 'phone.
I never stopped telling him I loved him, even when I wondered where my sweet boy had gone.
I won't say that it's all sweetness and light.
When he comes home from Uni to stay for a while, sometimes he slips back into familiar territory, crying to be fed every half hour like a helpless baby bird, when I know he is more than capable of fending for himself. He's six-feet-five, for god's sake!
And sometimes I find myself back in the old Drama Triangle: Victim, Rescuer, sometimes Persecutor...
I feel guilt that I am not a good mother, when I know I should be patting myself on the back for being a 'good-enough' mother.
We all should, if we have succeeded in raising adaptable, confident, communicative kids who can thrive all by themselves in the outside worlds.
I wrote these words a few months ago on my own blog (when I was writing about tattoos, when he'd come back from a school trip with an ear-ring like Captain Jack Sparrow!), and they brought me here today:
"I want to say something deep and meaningful about having children, and knowing that they are only on loan to us, their parents, for a short time - and, that, like my peaceful dove, they will spread their wings and fly in an altogether different direction to that which we might ever have dreamed up for them in life, while we looked away in fact, just when we were exhausted from the day's activities, and were thankfully tucking them in for the night, together with lop-eared teddies and favoured scented blankies...
I know that their random acts of boldness, burgeoning maturity, and sometimes even licentiousness, should only serve to remind us that we do not own our children, nor their bodies - That they are theirs to do with as they wish, in actuality...
And then I go and wibble on about tattoos, changing the subject until I am able to cope with the temporal nature of love, life and art again..."
And B R E A T H E!
The title of this post comes from one of my favourite songs by the Eurythmics...
It's Fhina, by the way!
Thursday, 17 March 2011
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Thursday, 24 February 2011
Thursday, 10 February 2011
The 15 year old Man-Child is rocking a Mohawk at the moment and it's driving me mad. Not for the reasons you'd think. They have no uniform or dress code at school (within reason, but that's mainly directed at the wannabee-slut girls) so the Mohawk is fine.
I just think it's boring and predictable. He wants to be a punk/goth musician; he's heavily into his guitar (as well as viola); wears black all the time and has started adding a few bits of dangling chains to his jeans. Being 6'3' and rather cute, I think he looks good, if a bit menacing. But the haircut? Please. It's just so obvious isn't it? I mean, teenager trying to rebel = spiked hair.
He likes The Clash, so I keep popping up picures of the late Joe Strummer and saying "Why don't you ask the barber to do that with your hair?", and pointing out cooler hair cuts in magazines. He either rolls his eyes and says nothing, while clicking back to his homework, or bats me away with his gigantic hand.
He's going for a trim tonight after school and I have half a mind to pay off the barber to accidentally give him a different haircut.
After my latest attempt at brain-washing (some dude on American Idol with a great 'do') the Queenager imparted these words of wisdom: "You do realise that the more you say this, the less chance there is of him ever letting the Mohawk go?".
Um. Yes. I knew that.
Sunday, 30 January 2011
Thursday, 13 January 2011
(True story - on my mother's life.)
Last night I received an e-mail from one of the 15 year old's teachers, inviting parents to some sort of exhibition of their work. (I forget the details. Don't they all merge into one?) What caught my eye was the enormous font of the body of the e-mail, compared to the surrounding text in my e-mail folders. I kept making the font smaller, but it was still enormous. And then it dawned on me.
The hilarious e-mail I could send as a reply. Here it is ver batim:
Thanks for the information Mr M.
By the way - we 9th grade parents may generally be in our late 40s and early 50s but we don't need the HUGE font quite yet.!!!!
Toni H (not yet 50 and almost 20/20).
Hilarious, don't you think?
The Man-Child (whose teacher it was) stood by me, loudly denouncing me as a loser and that he would be SO embarrassed he couldn't possibly show up for class, but I knew he didn't really mind otherwise he'd have either pulled the computer plug out of the wall or picked me up and deposited me at the far end of the room.
So I sent it.
The reply? I give up. I realise teachers have to tread warily with parents, but please. Could I really have been serious.
"Sorry about that...I attempted to copy the text from an email I had written on our grading server and there must have been an issue with the formatting. My apologies on that one... "
Argh! No! You're supposed to think I'm one hilarious, hip-cool mama, not a Type A, politically correct a** hole.
In my own defence, I couldn't resist sending off this one last e-mail in the desperate hope that the teacher would realise I had been hilariously joking all along:
"No problem - it was worth the absolute humiliation that I seem to have put the Queenager and the Man-Child through! ;-)"
Unfortunately, I cannot disagree with the teens that this is just one more teacher who now harbours the suspicison that their mother is indeed, insane.
Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Sunday, 2 January 2011
My son and l just cracked on in the usual way, waiting to hear what Christmas choices my daughter would make for herself. I assured her it was her choice, I made sure she knew she was welcome and wanted. But I told her that life moves on and we wouldn't die if she made other choices.
Christmas eve and I found myself in bed with antibiotics, coughing up my lungs, off work.
My daughter arrived in the evening, having told me early in the week that she was staying with us, and her Dad had 'plans'. Nuff said. (It actually transpired that he spent all Christmas and new year alone with man-flu. He is consistent each year, without fail.)
We watched tv, laughed and drank some....they went to bed before midnight, to keep it magical, so the teens of 19 and 16 yrs, still love the magic.
At 9am, my daughter landed on my bed with stockings and smiles and much excitement, my son followed minutes later. We all put on soft pjs and drank to each others health, opening gifts in a slightly calmer manner, taking turns, rather than the usual 'let's watch the kids' mode. We've all grown up a little more this past year.
I wept, she wept, at sweet generosity, thoughtfulness and kind words from friends and family. I made the dinner, in a less than an hour, as we are a smaller family now. I cut corners of course, not sure if my heart would be in it this year, no one noticed. Don't know why l hadn't saved my self a ton of angst years ago.
At 5pm I drove the kids to their father's and my daughters house. Our family home. My eyes leaked a little on my drive out of the street, but l sucked it up.
I popped into wish a friend happy Christmas and an hour later I was home.
And I was not alone for long.
For now that is all l can say about that.
Happy New Year!