Empty nester.

IMG_4462 (1)Our son left home last year to go to University.

The Empty nest syndrome is something I see all around. Sad eyed middle aged women getting up like clockwork to put out the endless boxes of cereal to feed the ones who have left. Our body clocks pinging at 4pm and the Pavlovs dogs reaction of shovelling a half hundred weight of biscuits onto plates and producing gallons of juice and milk for the hoards to drink when they descend on the house at 4.30pm on their ways home. Only there are no hoards now. All those muddy kneed rugby playing school boy/men are away. Away to begin their lives without so much as a by your leave for the entrenched routines that having given birth to and brought up a child has riven into the homes and lives which they inhabited. The silence. The tidiness. The thrum of music through the wall from his room replace by the ticking of the kitchen clock. The fridge which remains full and the milk which is still bought in gallons going off.

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Until this very moment you have had not a second to think about it as the toddling becomes totting into school turns to hormones turns to teenage battles turns to exams and then to – well this – the point. To bring up a responsible member of society who can clean his teeth, brush his hair, and be independent. This is a success. This was your job. OK its not full redundancy maybe a fairer term would be voluntary redundancy. It is a new beginning for them so why not you?

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So with that in mind I am slinging my bag over my shoulder, grabbing my sausage dog and am off.  Muffin top, hormonal rollercoaster, bouts of dieting, bouts of drinking, bouts of regret, bouts of hysteria, eruptions of spots, despair, creativity, dunderheidedness, insomnia, grumpiness all accompanied by increasing hairiness in strange places – why the inside of my nose is now tufting up is not something I am either proud of or delighted about – and that’s just the half of it, said the bearded slack jawed lady. Still look on the bright side….at least when Santa retires I might be a shoe-in for the big job.

With car, sausage dog and passport am off. Will report back.

 

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From a sweet young boy to a hairy cowboy in a moment.

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Ben Murphy

Hannibal Hayes and Kid Curry the two most wanted outlaws in the history of the west, and in all the trains and banks they robbed they never shot anyone.

God I loved Ben Murphy.

For no reason whatsoever that intro jumped into my mind this afternoon. I tweeted it and got some banter going with fellow fans of the cowboys. The Virginian, The High Chaparal and Alias Smith and Jones were the only westerns I ever watched.

It was  nothing to do with the plot, the setting or the excitement of these programs it was all to do with the early teen hormones.

Unknown-1 UnknownI fancied the Virginian James Drury and Trampass wasn’t half bad played by  Doug McClure – I forgave him that high forehead and of course I was quite partial to  Blue Boy in The High Chaparral  but of course the top cowboy in my life Kid Curry aka Ben Murphy. Swoon.

I had a life size poster of Ben on my bedroom wall in a tin bath smoking a cigar. He must have been about 35 I was 12. I’m surprised my mother didn’t get the vapours. Though maybe seeing him grinning down at her from my wall as she dug through the discarded stuff trying to find the dog and any missing dinner plates and people may have warmed the cockles of her heart too.

I  had gone from Donny Osmond – a truly girl like young man to a great hairy cigar smoking geezer in a flash.  Enjoy this trip down memory lane. I did.

“Gap Years are a waste of time” – ahem – sorry?

Steam, smoke coming out of my ears. Blood pressure risen to dangerous levels. I am not only in high dudgeon am floating well above it and grinding my rapidly diminishing teeth to boot.

The reason The Daily Telegraph. I know I know it’s called the Tory graph for a reason. It’s not the only paper I read but today I was so incensed I dumped the rest and rushed for the laptop when I read this.

“Gap Years are a waste of time, says advertising supremo” by Javier Espinoza, Education Editor.

OK the article is written about a very successful bloke – Sir Martin Sorrell. His claim that “Gap Years are a waste of time” goes on to say that kids who take a year out before continuing with their education are achieving nothing meaningful , that gap years lacked direction, they need to be more focussed and specific.

This is not Harry Enfield. This is Sir Martin Sorrell.
This is not Harry Enfield. This is Sir Martin Sorrell.

Definition of a Gap Year: a period, typically an academic year, taken by a student as a break between school and university or college education._

Definition of a break: a rest, respite, interval, breathing space, lull, recess;

The majority of kids start school 5, some as young as 4 and are relentlessly drilled to learn, to hit targets, to achieve in an ever competitive school environment. School is the official title but as the school day ends often their days continue with extra tutors, music lessons, sports, language learning until eventually these little people fall in an exhausted heap into their homes where, after a brief “break” for their fish fingers and chips, they have to settle down to deal with far too much homework. The self as a developing individual personality being given little or no time or space to emerge.

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Sir Martin Sorrell, putting himself up as the all seeing knowing commentator on such matters as Gap Years according to Wikipedia “is married to Cristiana Falcone. Sorrell was previously married to the American-born Sandra Finestone, with whom he has three sons, but the marriage broke down in 2003, as a result of Sir Martin’s “obsession with work”.

Obsession with work.
Living to work. Not working to live.

So it’s a choice really isn’t it? Some may choose to have balance. Have a life where you expand your horizons and experiences without feeling every moment of every day has to be accounted for in an endless round of point scoring exercises in the pursuit of the betterment of the self to impress potential employers or tart up a CV.

Sir Martin is simply out of kilter. I believe the emphasis is shifting where more value is given to a developed and happy individual as a whole, not just in terms of exams, awards, boxes ticked on an outmoded and outdated list. A list clearly still adhered to by Sir Martin Sorrell, that man in the Ivory tower .

OK steam petering out, jaw no longer clenched, spleen vented. I’m off.

 

PS I have a son. He had a gap year. He came back refreshed, independent, mature and able to settle down to his next stage in life. Best thing he ever did.

 

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Granny becomes fashion victim

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Have you seen these breeks with holes, slits cut right up and down the leg? It looks as if they have been in a thresher. Trendy in the extreme just now. But not for menopausal women. If I wore a pair of these each hole would be pushed to bursting as croissants of undulating flesh pressed to escape the confine of the trouser so why am I on about them???My niece who went to stay with her Granny recently who did the dutiful parental grandparental thing of putting on the ebola suit on complete with face made before unbidden, emptying her case of dirty clothes and washing them. When Jenny got up 2 and half days later from a win night her granny was rather proud to announced
“Your trousers, the ones with the God awful holes in them – don’t worry they’re not ruined I’ve fixed them for you?
Sorry
Sewn up the holes.
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Long pause, illustrated by tears rolling down cheeks, face going a dangerous deep red and hair alarmingly standing on end and it’s was length. But she rallied not wanting to upset her well meaning Gran.
“Thanks”.
“You’re welcome dear. Now what would you like for tea?”
Absinthe.

Furious mother may strangle Teenwolf son.

 

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I can’t you how angry I am having just come home from a full days work to a smell that just about knocked me out when I opened the door.
Oh God the aged dogs have combusted I thought uncharitably but one look at them proved they were as horrified as I was as they pushed past me to get out the door.

 

A cursory sniff as they scattered took me to the source – Teenwolf  had decided to whip up a snack for his pal – smoked mackerel.  He’d manfully opened the package, sliced it on a chopping board all left there with fishy knife . The pan is also in evidence as are the plates they ate from with the leftovers, a few further fishy wee shards.

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All of this has been sitting in the warm house left to emanate fishy fishy smells all day long. Ggggggrrr.

Our pals are coming round in an hour so I have to decide whether to open the windows and freeze them to death or invite them into fishy hell.

I am off to dig out jumpers, rugs, hats and gloves – they will thank me for it if and when they ever thaw out.

My mood will take longer to thaw out when the Teenwolf slopes in. I guarantee it.

Teenwolf & the pack return alive.

images-2Yeah they are back from Zante.

Alive.

That is all.

That is enough.

The cigarette burns.

Bags under the eyes.

Look of rickets round the legs will all pass.

The strangely neon daubed shoes,

Gnarly sandy things in the bottom of the case.

Untouched bar of soap and empty Kitkat packets

are my only clues. But who cares.

They are here. Fit. Healthy. Upright. And

Home.

Exhale.

Teenwolf is in Zante – NOW


UnknownHe packed his case 6 hours before he left. He was leaving at 4am so it was just before he fell into a slump.

After he had put in 3 vests, 2 pairs of shorts and some aftershave ( vital obviously)  I stuffed in half a loo roll, some dried apricots, white kit kats, and a medical supply box that would impress  Dr Quinn Medicine Woman.

imagesWipes, bits, stuff for allergies, rehydrators, paracetamol, plasters, mosquito spray.

I recall his first trip away when he was 7 he came back with his toilet bag unopened. Perfect clean folded facecloth, pristine unused soap, toothbrush missing. All clothes folded, and clean – he hadn’t changed his clothes at all.

Yup he left for Zante on Thursday. What I didn’t realise was they were leaving from Glasgow at  6am so had to get there for 4. Herding cats is an over used expression but 16  x 17 & 18 year old boys going off to Zante for the 1st  time free of guidance, nagging, money and bossing of parents is a real cat herding exercise. No shit.

 

Taking a deep breath and determined to give him his space. I have resisted texting. In return every 2 days I get a two work text from Zante boy.
I am happy. This proves many things.

 

  1. He realises I am a neurotic old bat
  2. He is coherent enough to text
  3. He has the foresight to charge his mobile
  4. He notices he is not here.

The brief  communications have been as follows.
Day 1. Arrived safe.

Day 2 NOTHING

Day 3 Apartment dodgy

Day 4 Nothing

Day 5 Need decent food.

 

Of course I have tried cajoling him. What are you eating? How hot is it? And just before I press send I think. Woah. Stop. Being the stalking woman it is not a good look. So I have refrained.

As I sat tucked up on the couch getting over the 2 week stay of our pals from Australia I flicked through the TV idly. And what did I find?

Inbetweeners Movie.
3 minutes in in I recalled the strict instructions from those who know

‘DO NOT under any cicrcumstances watch the Inbetweeners Movie.’

Too late.

Palpitations.

More insomnia – if you wonder if you  can actually have more insomnia and less sleep. I am (zombie like) living proof you can.

The joys of parenthood.

Oh and take it from me. If you are a parent. Do not watch the Inbetweeners Movie. Ever.

If you’re not though do it’s funny as hell.

Zante trip imminent. Smelling salts for the parents please.

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This time next week the boy who has turned into a teenwolf and teeters on manhood is off to Zante. Yes the island that has featured on Sex, Sea and Suspicious Parents in which platoons of teenagers maraude the nightclubs and bars speed drinking, fighting and lying in pools of suspicious substances after thrusting their tongues down available throats. I feel sick.

 

It’s a right of passage I am told.

Yes. I understand.

I understand but it makes no odds. The lump of concrete in my belly is intact. So I have a few choices to make.

Shall I

  1. Drink for 7 days thus displaying the ‘if you cant beat them join them’ ethos?
  2. Find a crooked Dr and arrange an intravenous tranquiliser for the week?
  3. Check myself into a chanting retreat to be calmed in a Zen like fashion?
  4. Go too?

 

No. None of the above. I will have to display the mature adult persona. Being helpful, concerned yet happy to let him go to the land of the lamping, flashing and guzzling. AAAARRRGGHH. I may have to practice this technique as at the moment barricading the door so he cant get out of his room is still rather appealing.

 

Mature Adult impression
Mature Adult impression

Genuinely it’s not his lot I am worried about it’s the lunatic heavily tattooed, drunken casual spoiling for a fight and taking a dislike to a bunch of Scottish lads. Just for the hell of it.

Oh and the mopeds.

And the drink spiking.

And of course  the balconies.

There there’s alcohol poisoning.

Sunburn.

Drowning if swimming and gulping beer.

 

So what stage does parenting become a relaxing experience I asked my Mum who was 82 last week.

She smiled back ‘Never’.

Thanks for that Mum.

 

 

Anyway….just in case you’re interested

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How to avoid drink spiking

If your drink has been spiked it’s unlikely that you will be able see, smell or taste any difference.

The following steps may help prevent someone from spiking your drink:

  • Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know.
  • Keep an eye on your friends’ drinks.
  • Stay away from situations that you don’t feel comfortable with.
  • Let someone know where you are and what time you expect to be home, especially if you’re going on a date with someone you don’t know.
  • Don’t give out too much information to someone you’ve just met, such as your address.
  • It’s important to remember that if you’ve already been drinking, it may make you less aware of any danger.

It isn’t just women who are targeted. The most common reasons for drink spiking are:

  • for amusement
  • to be malicious
  • to carry out a sexual assault or rape
  • to carry out a theft

Parents of teenagers prepare yourself – pant wettingly accurate.

If you have a teenager. Or a child that will one day turn into one. This will hit the spot. No not that kind of spot the sort of relevant, been there done that, guffaw we are not alone spot as this illustrates the hormonal fluctuation of the teenager is not unique it is a universal joy. That was sarcasm. Mind you it made me laugh like a drain as it does feel good to know we are not alone.
And here’s the good news. I have heard it on very good authority once their brain synapsses join up again they do resemble the delicious delightful people they were when they submerged into the hormone tunnel – they just have more facial hair and better enunciated verbs.

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