Monthly Archives: July 2011

DS has been back from schools rugby tour in S Africa for three days and he is bored.  Most of his friends are away and he has no transport and no money and apart from daily visits to the gym – you should see his muscles, in fact, if you come to our house you can see them all the time as he never wears a top indoors, preferring instead to lope  around topless, occasionally feeling and flexing his muscles or looking at his reflection in anything he can find – he is passing the time eating, facebooking, watching TV and eating a bit more.  I was in the garden where I have been solidly for the past few days, cutting back, clearing and weeding like the new convert to the church of gardening that I am, when he appeared on typically silent feet and started whacking a tennis ball against the fence with an old hockey stick I had unearthed from under a large bush which I found under  a small tree which I didn’t know I had.

‘ I’m bored ‘, he announced in a bored sort of way. Whack. ‘ Why don’t you dig out some roots? It’s very therapeutic ‘.  Trust me, wrestling stubborn bramble roots out of the ground with a large garden fork in a Herculean battle of woman versus root  – I lay back fully on the fork at one stage using my entire body weight as leverage – is deeply, deeply satisfying. Whack.  ‘ I don’t need therapy ‘.  I balance on my trusty garden implement, pushing it far down into the soil.  ‘ Not yet ‘ I say wobbling slightly but he is already gone, back inside to the safety of the TV and away from annoying mothers who are deluded enough to think that a 16 year old might want to do some digging.  Through DD’s bedroom window I can hear Helen Reddy singing from her laptop, “ I am strong, I am invincible, I Am Womaaaaaan ‘ and I feel the roots tremble on the points of my fork.


It’s probably a good thing my daughter came back yesterday as I have started to live like a student this past week, neglecting domestic duties in favour of watching telly and eating bowls of cereal and biscuits because I can’t be bothered to cook. We had a sweet reunion DD and I, lots of hugs and kisses, then a lunch at Wagamamas where we talked about her Majorcan sojourn and definitely out of left field this one, her new interest in becoming a WAG.   The catalyst for this ambition was the handsome and talented foot balling, Majorcan Moroccan lad she had met -‘ I didn’t get with him or anything obviously, because I like, have a boyfriend, like‘ – and her eyes widened in wonder at the thought that if she were to become single again she could pursue the relationship and ‘ I could be a WAG! ‘. Hummmm, not really my ambition of choice for DD but I fear rich husbands will never go out of fashion so long as there are handbags to be bought.

Then we went to see the latest and final Harry Potter movie, something DD has been both anticipating and dreading since The Deathly Hallows part1.  She is an avid and passionate Harry Potter fan, which has not lessened with the onset of teendom and although she loved the film, burst into painful tears as soon as we were back home because, ‘ It’s the end. I’ve grown up with them and now it’s over ‘. I really felt for her as she cried like the little girl she still sometimes is for the end of Harry Potter and because without yet knowing it, she was also crying for her own scarily fast growing up these past few years. It’s tough being 15 and not knowing if you want to be a WAG or a wizard.

I write these words in a house empty of teenagers. No music, voices, slamming doors, trails of large, adolescent forms up and down the stairs, clothes, make-up and damp towels strewn across floors. No requests for lifts or money or both, no last minute sleepovers or late night meals required because ‘ I am a teenage, bottomless eating machine that needs 5 meals a day and I’m starving. Again ‘. Tonight the house is quiet and I’m off duty.

They are both away, she in Majorca with her dad and he on schools rugby tour in S.Africa and I have a whole week off parenting. Bliss. One of the mums at the S.Africa send off said ‘ I’m going to miss little Jonny so much, I hate it when he’s away..’ and though I nodded with seeming empathy the truth is, I love these rare periods without my darling pair. It’s not just the massive reduction in my domestic load, down by, oh I would say, 85%, but also the sheer relief of just not being responsible for them. Not worrying about where they are, where they’re supposed to be, whether they’re drinking, whether they’re drunk, why they seem upset, why they won’t eat, why they won’t stop eating, why they’re not answering their phones, what will happen if they don’t do enough revision – for one week only, Not My Responsibility.  And it feels good, I tell you.

Then my iphone beeps, incoming text from DD. ‘ Miss you a lot xxxxxxxxx ‘. Curse the wretched, digital umbilical chord that is the mobile phone, now I know that she’s missing me I feel bad about not missing her. But the feeling passes quickly when she texts me that’s she’s on her way to the square for a night of traditional Majorcan festivities which include large amounts of sangria being consumed and children tying fireworks to their heads before running around amongst the crowd – eat your heart out elf and safety – and it’s Not my Responsibility to keep her safe.  Thank God under the circumstances. So I text her the usual warnings about strange men and the perils of alcohol and then I turn my phone off and head for the sofa, free for once from sprawling teenage bodies and occupied only by one small, neat tabby cat.  Budge up Boo.

My idea of a good time is not to be shut in a car with two tired, stroppy teens on a five hour journey in holiday traffic, but that is how I spent Saturday. We were headed for my niece and her girlfriend’s wedding at my sister’s home in Cornwall, a family occasion we were genuinely looking forward to, but first we had to get there without me throwing my DD’s ipod out of the window. DS had borrowed said instrument of torture for the duration of the journey and due to his poor quality headphones I was subjected to the unbelievably irritating, second hand sound of his musical choices, for hours. And I mean hours.  But despite things getting a bit shouty at the service station when I finally put my foot down and made him turn it off, we all arrived in one piece and a wonderful wedding unfolded. Against the backdrop of a deep blue sky in a field in Cornwall two of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet made their vows, and we were all deeply moved.

As we stood afterwards with still teary eyes and glasses of champagne my DS commented on how much the ceremony had touched him. ‘ I cried, I really did ‘. He looked around at the other guests. ‘ There’s lots of lesbanians here isn’t there? ‘ – it’s a current trend amongst The Young to add extra letters into words and I liked the extended version but requested that he keep his observations to himself as ‘ Grandma  is on her way over and I don’t want to get her onto any controversial topics ‘. My mum is 82 and going deaf which makes her prone to loud comments about people standing within earshot, and as a devout Christian of advancing years she struggles with the ‘ physical side ‘ of gay relationships and I did not want her to express this view in public today. ‘ Do you understand?’ DS nods sagely, ‘ Won’t mention lesbanians once. Promise. Hello grandma, can I get you a drink? ‘

After a sit down feast in a glorious rustic chic themed tent one of my nieces did DJ duty and we danced. It’s the first time in a long while since I danced with my kids and I thoroughly recommend it as a bonding exercise.  All memories of traffic jams and family rows were forgotten as we threw some shapes together, and my DD didn’t say ‘ God, you’re embarrassing, stop dancing ‘ once.

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