Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Pick Your Battles.....Sigh.

That has been my mantra in the almost-18 years I have been mothering. Or learning how to mother. Or crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

To be fair, the Queenager never argued about clothes, and will still wear whatever she puts her hand on first thing in the morning. (Rather funny - placing certain shirts at the very front to see if she'll come downstairs wearing them. She does.) The Man-Child wouldn't argue; he'd just put back whatever I'd put out and come down wearing a completely different outfit. Fortunately, because he didn't like wearing "smart clothes" (that is, spiffy clothes, to any US readers) most of his stuff could stand up to a school day. The Little Guy (a very verbal 7 year old) will argue the pros and cons of whatever I suggest but since it all looks the same anyway, I let him get on with it.

We've been pretty adamant about not allowing the teens to get strange piercings I'll admit. So would you if you could guarantee your kids would be the ones to get horribly infected AND you had to pay the health bills that we face over here. Our mantra for those situations is "When you're off the payroll". It also comes in handy for motor bike arguments, threats to go hang-gliding and other death-defying pursuits.

And up until now, we haven't had too many hair arguments. Not if you discard the faux-hawk that we had going a few years ago. Oh yes. Man-child, in a desperate bid to rebel against something, anything, got himself a faux-hawk. That's the one with the spike but the sides aren't all completely shaved off. It made him look very aggressive in my opinion, and it seemed that one female agreed as it was abruptly removed a few months later.

Two weeks ago he started banging on about wanting either a proper mohawk or blue hair. Blue Hair? Interestingly, I had more of a problem with the mohawk and the Ball & Chain vetoed the blue hair. Man-child dictated that it was one or the other, but I persuaded him to go and see the trendy Eurpean hair stylist round the corner who could give him something really rockin' with perhaps a touch of blue in it. (He eventually conceded that if his entire head was dyed blue he'd look like a Lego character.)

This past weekend he duly took himself off to the trendy hair stylist - who wasn't in. So he then took himself up to the punky barber shop. And got a mohawk.

It's not as bad as I thought it would look as you can see his huge eyes and he still has hair on the sides. A bit. And it'll grow.

What really upsets me however, is that for our 20th wedding anniversary, we decided to get a proper family photo portrait done. And it's booked for next week!

The photographer tells me she's a whizz with Photoshop! Sigh!

Expat Mum

Monday, 20 September 2010

Straight from the horse's mouth...

One of the (slight) concerns I have for my man-child moving away from home for the first time today, as he is, is that he will not eat well enough.

I am anxious that he try to procure at least the Five-A-Day fruit and veg portions required for a healthy diet, to maximise the benefits...

One of the options we considered was him staying in Student Accommodation where two meals per day are provided. I was in the self-same type of Hall of Residence in my own first year in College. ...My mind fills with a vintage gauzy veil if you ask me how many years ago that was.

But it occurred to us that this could well be an utter waste of money, given his childhood reaction to school meals, which were purported to be decent and nutritious.

From the tender age of six, at his insistence, he ate only packed (sandwich) lunches that we prepared for him daily... Later he acquired fresh sandwiches from the supermarket near his High School, eschewing school meals, in spite of the fact that it would have been far more convenient for two working parents for him to have scoffed them instead!

One morning last year, we were in a right pickle, both of us parents so busy with work and running late so, rushing to get us all out of the house, I asked that he take the money I was then holding out to him and buy a sandwich from the school cafeteria, to save us journey time...

You know the kind of stress I mean, I know you do!

And he paused for a moment, and looked at me with outrage and horror, shrieking,

"Mum, do you know just how awful they are?!

I think they would rather boil horses' hooves, than cook us anything decent to eat!"

We left the house that morning in gales of laughter...

I'm going to miss that.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Baby Bird Flees the Nest...

Little by little, I have been gathering bits and pieces together in preparation for my son leaving to go to College later this month...

I have been super-super-organised and have already filled a big, lidded cardboard box with booty: Crockery and cutlery, toiletries and stationery requisites, and earlier this year, I bought the aforementioned vintage trunk, currently residing in the garage...

I am washing and drying laundry ready for the filling of a wardrobe, or three, and we still need to get him a couple of items so that he can take this new step in his life. We were supposed to do this on Friday, when I took a day's leave from work to spend time with my son, whom I've seen very little of lately, as it happens.

He felt ill after a stay-over at his girlfriend's new student house, and was tired after a night of coughing, unfortunately, (I think he's caught a bug from my husband), so we're planning to do things over the weekend instead.

And on Friday night, I found myself enjoying the veritable tippy-tappy, and talking to my friend over Facebook, which is very handy for that, if for very little else!


And crying. mainly crying, as things worked out...

I'm not sure where that came from, because I'm all right about Grizz leaving, I am. We've seen him so rarely recently that it's almost like he's already moved out, except I keep finding dirty dishes and half-filled glasses on, around and under the sofa, and rogue, smelly socks roam the floors of my house like pilgrims in search of the Holy Grail!

But I'm obviously moping a tad, in spite of my sanguine, and organised, exterior. And a few words from a dear friend who's plotting her daughter's departure to College in Leeds, to read journalism, were all it took to turn on the taps... For a short time. Wine may also have been involved. Possibly.

Grizz is off to read Geography. Did I tell you already that I'm very proud of him? He's only off to Newcastle, so not very far. Still in slapping distance, actually! (Only kidding, honestly!)

I expect I shall be meeting him from time to time for lunch while I'm still working in the city. I shall be dispensing sound advice and ten pound notes, I should imagine.

This is the role of a mother, is it not?

To love them and to let them go.

To cry tears that are a mixture of joy and regret...

For what has been, and for what shall probably never be the same again.

Bon Voyage, my treasure!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

One Less Teen, Way too Many Leftovers

My second teen has left the house. (Oldest is in the army, second is now in a pre-army school.)

I now have a problem. I need to relearn how to cook.

My second son has consistently been my biggest eater. I always cook a lot for the Sabbath and then end up having leftovers for the next few days. (I figure if I work so hard cooking, I should get the benefit of leftovers and a few days off.) For the most part, the leftovers usually got eaten. More often then not by my ravenous second son.

Now that he is not home during the week, I am suddenly finding myself with way too many uneaten leftovers. Leftovers that sadly go to waste.

The problem is that I stink at portions. For any given Sabbath meal, a whole family can usually drop by unannounced and I will have enough to feed them. This was never a problem because I always had my eating machine son home.

At least over the holidays now he is home. I get two weeks reprieve before I try to relearn cooking amounts.

Who said having kids leave was easy??

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Mum, you're embarrassing me!

I think I'm turning into my mother. Actually I know I am. I embarrass my child, just like my mum used to embarrass me. I love my mother; she is a warm, generous, funny lady but when I was a teenager her loudness and daftness used to sometimes make me want to hide away. At family parties she would dress up in my brother's school blazer, squeeze into his grey trousers, roll them up to her knees and pretend to be Jimmy Krankie. Everyone loved her 'Fandabbydozy' impressions, they would squeal with delight, but my brother and I would be mortified.

Now I have my own teenager who finds me annoying, especially when I sing, hum or move to music in a certain way - in the car or in the kitchen, even though there is no-one else around to see me. He rolls his eyes, whines 'M-u-u-u-m-m, p-l-e-a-s-e' and I have to stop. I mustn't act silly in front of his mates, ask them too many questions or in any way entertain them although this summer they have all been very grateful that I have been around to feed them bacon butties on a regular basis.

However my mum's Jimmy Krankie impersonation pales into insignificance compared to the damage I may have caused my son by subjecting him to my performance in 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' earlier this year. I feel he may need therapy.

Yet today I saw a chink of acceptance, a little sliver of hope that he may be growing up a little and is realising that I'm not so bad after all. Getting out of the car he walked beside me as we made our way into town and said,

"Actually it's okay if I walk alongside you now. Just don't sing, ok?"

Trish from Mum's Gone to...