I made the big mistake of looking at old photos the other day and got dragged back into memories of family life with little people. Endless photos of smiling children engaging in any activity we did with them. Visits to museums and stately homes, baking, craft, climbing frames, walking on walls, fancy dress, you name it. Things have, quite naturally, and appropriately, changed. Let’s face it, if they wanted to sit in a ball pit each weekend it would be a bit weird. As would Paul carrying either of them on his shoulders (which would also be physically very challenging).
They still want to do things with us but in a much lower level way. One of them has to be dragged out of bed in the mornings in the holidays – so there’s certainly no more swings in the park at 9am. Both have their own interests and of course friends, so wouldn’t take too kindly if I insisted they sit with me and make crepe paper bats (T is crocheting me one instead).
It makes half term tricky when you aren’t going away. Yesterday we met friends for an Autumnal walk, bribed a little bit with ice cream. Today I’ve booked us into paint a pot where the results are likely to be a little better than they were ten years ago (apart from mine of course). On Friday I’m taking them to see the 3.5 metre tall puppet of a refugee girl, Amal. which they are accepting because they understand that I really want to go and one of them hopes the trip may result in shopping for new pyjamas.
To make things doubly difficult they are quite different. One would walk for hours in the drizzle, the other thinks an hour is more than enough. One likes Glee and rom coms, the other watches QI and listens to podcasts. But what I’ve come to accept is that we don’t need to do things together as much as we did. They need their own space. While I was painting the porch yesterday one was creating the most beautiful bullet journal and the other was singing and playing guitar (interspersed with limited amounts of revision). It’s all good.
Sometimes when I’m sad I miss them being little. The stories at bedtime. The terribly decorated buns. The messy faces. But then I listen to them talk about their friendships, their worries, what they are excited for and their hopes and dreams, I think parenting teens is pretty cool really. Plus, I certainly have more time for myself. “Mum!” doesn’t get hollered quite so often (but still a bit) and I’m sitting here now writing in complete silence while they do whatever they are doing elsewhere (which is most definitely not tidying their bedrooms). I have no idea what I’m doing, just like I didn’t know what I was doing ten years ago, but that’s par for the course I guess. For now what I’m doing is making some coffee and reading a book. A weird half term but a good one.