Category Archives: teenager

Stress, Social and Smooth

Stress. The kids went back to school nearly two weeks ago. Last Monday, T had a mini-meltdown. When I say meltdown, he was mildly stressed out. T doesn’t do meltdowns. He does calm and laid back so when he gets stressed it is unusual but not insurmountable. He doesn’t have to tell me when something is worrying him, it is obvious – he goes quiet and in turn becomes argumentative. And anyway, I just know. Before I had kids, I didn’t really believe the whole “mum spidey senses” thing but it is actually a Thing. Anyway, we had a chat after the argument and he admitted he was feeling a bit pressured by the whole GCSE thing and the pressure to do well. We had spoken at length during the summer about how much effort he has been giving so far and how it is not enough to just do the bare minimum. The failed RE GCSE seemed to spur him on, but have I created a monster? Have I made too much of it and now he is stressing out? Anyway, we talked a bit more and it transpired that the homework app wasn’t working (see, technology is NOT always a good thing – what was wrong with writing things down into a homework diary?) and he didn’t want to get behind with his homework………….because he wanted to watch the Apple Conference live the following evening. I don’t need to worry, he clearly still has his priorities in a different place.

Social. On Saturday night, A went to a friend’s birthday party. I am finding it increasingly hard to keep up with her social life and the way it is organised. There’s no invites any more. Parents don’t contact parents any more. Your child gets a text (or Whatsapp message, or Instagram DM, or Snapchat PM….etc) invite from their friend and they ask you if they can go. You say yes or no and if in the affirmative the details get passed to you as and when your child gets them. You don’t have to text a parent or call a parent to say that your child can attend and “hi” I’m J, A’s mum”. None of that. On this particular occasion I had not met the girl whose party it was, or her parents. I just knew she lived in “the big house on the corner of the road that goes down to the school”. She was being dropped off by another friend’s step-dad (again all organised child-to-child but at least we know the friend in question and have met the mum and step-dad) and we were picking them up later. I had an address and a time and the knowledge that they were going to watch a movie at the house and then dinner out at a local pizza place. That was all. Now, I don’t know how you feel reading this, but I felt a little lacking in my parental duties. However, knowing that I could see her whereabouts on my lovely app, I felt slightly less nervous than I could have done. And I knew two of the other girls she was going to be with who are both pretty sensible. She was being dropped off and picked up. Nothing to worry about. And there wasn’t, it was all fine, she had a lovely time; they were even left unsupervised in the restaurant while the birthday girl’s parents went to the chip shop (it’s classier than it sounds) and so she felt very grown up (which I suppose she is becoming). I went to pick her up at the designated time with K as chauffeur. The idea of the “big house on the corner” made me slightly nervous. Meeting a new person made me slightly nervous. Meeting a new person who lives in a VERY big house…you get the idea. I was nervous. Especially having had ZERO contact with her previously. She was perfectly nice, they had all “been fine” and so after collecting all their belongings (why do girls have so much stuff?) we left. I have no idea what the mum’s name was. We made small talk while they were getting their stuff but other than that she has 2 older children and one younger one and that her house is MASSIVE I know nothing more than that. It’s not a problem, it just feels weird. Up til now, I have pretty much known the parents of A’s friends, because I have seen them at school and probably chatted to them in the playground. I haven’t had to worry about this stuff with T, he still hangs around with the same mates he had in nursery. He has other friends, new friends from secondary school, but boys don’t really do the whole “tea” at each others houses thing. Or parties really. Well, T doesn’t anyway. It’s a whole new world and one I am finding hard to adjust to. We have a “new friend” coming for “tea” tomorrow and another one for a sleepover on Saturday night (I have met her before so it will be fine) – I might need therapy by Sunday.

So, that just leaves Smooth. I have not been sleeping brilliantly for a few weeks. When I say not brilliantly, I mean I can get to sleep no problem (in fact probably too easily, i.e. in front of the TV most evenings) but I have started waking up around 4am again. I don’t know why but it is annoying. What is even more annoying is that when I am lying there awake all I can think of is a bloody song that I can’t get out of my head. Not always the same song, but normally one that I don’t even like. I have realised that it is probably down to listening to Radio 2 all day.  It’s not their fault but they do play the same records over and over again – their playlist is pretty limited – and it can get a bit repetitive, and one of the songs will get stuck in my noddle and at 4am it decides to start blasting out. So, I have decided on a change of station. I started out this morning with Classic FM – no lyrics, no catchy tunes, was my thinking. After ten minutes I couldn’t take any more. I need lyrics. I need a catchy tune. I scrolled through the list and Smooth caught my eye – billed as “your relaxing music mix” I though it worth a go. Ooh I like it. So far not one repeat of a song. Nothing current, I grant you – I’m not in danger of being Down With The Kids – but nothing repetitive that could get stuck in my head, not so far anyway. Some old classics, actually only old classics; DJ’s whose voices are not too annoying, so far; a few adverts, could get annoying; but mainly just easy listening background noise with a few “oh I LOVE this one”s thrown in. Let’s see what happens tonight.

 

 

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Patience is a virtue……

……I definitely don’t possess.

I’ve been trying so hard. I’ve been patient waiting for the planning to go through (it still hasn’t, but I am zen-like and not allowing it to bother me), I have been patient waiting for builders quotes (some are really quick and others not so much). I have been calm during the return to school and I have only lost it once (when T was demonstrating typical Teen Brain behaviour). I have been trying hard and winning, mostly.

On Monday, I was likened to a caged tiger.

I went into the office early to get ahead of myself as Mondays are always my busiest day, catching up on enquiries from the weekend and any issues from Friday, when my colleague covers for me. I logged in and immediately my computer told me I had to run an update. No choices, no “run later” option or exit button, I had to do it. One of my bosses arrived about half an hour later and it was still running. I had a bit of a moan and he sympathised. I made us a coffee (my second) and I opened some post. Forty-five minutes later it rebooted – hurrah! – and I was all set to get started. Then, it said “installing updates, this will take some time”. Not may take some time, WILL take some time. As if forty-five minutes wasn’t long enough. The other boss arrived so I made another coffee; listened to the radio, did the Pop Master quiz; went to the loo – again. I think I must have been making my frustrations very well known (I was pretty wound up knowing that there was going to be even more emails to action as I had now been waiting nearly two hours to get going) because when I walked – maybe that should be ‘stalked’ – over to the franking machine my boss told me I was like a caged tiger. I had been pacing around a bit, I had been huffing and puffing quite a lot and there had been quite a bit of arms-thrown-up-in-the-air-in-disgust at the ridiculously slow increase of the “percentage complete” figure. I know I’m not the most patient of people. I know it’s a failing. But, when 99% of your job is done by computer and said computer is out of action it is VERY frustrating – there is nothing else to do. I hate doing nothing, unless I have chosen to do nothing and even then I can’t do it for long. But, I guess neither of my bosses have ever witnessed this before and, although I was technically doing nothing on their time, they were finding it highly amusing. Anyway, after 2 hours and twenty minutes of waiting, I was able to login and get started. Only to find that the poxy update had buggered up one of my email accounts and I couldn’t access it. Arrrggggghhhhh. As Mondays go, it was not the best.

Yesterday was fine. I was working from home and apart from having to move into the dining room because the office was bloody freezing, I had a productive day.

This morning, I felt like I was back on track and even the internet connection seemed to be behaving when the radio stopped playing. Then the wireless symbol on my laptop went orange (I hate that colour). This is not an unusual phenomenon as our internet connection is pretty hit and miss even when you are sitting right next to the router, so I wasn’t overly worried. Then I noticed how quiet it was.

Why was it so quiet?

Ah, the fridge freezer wasn’t making that weird groaning noise that it makes. This wasn’t just a Wi-Fi issue. This was a Power Cut. Again, this is not unusual for our village. There is a local Facebook group (that I am no longer part of because – did I mention this before? – I am no longer on Facebook) that has 100 comment long posts about Power Cuts – we have them almost weekly and sometimes a few short ones in the space of an hour. So, again, I wasn’t too worried. Stupidly, and I do this every bloody time, I got up to make a cup of tea! Doh! Picked up my phone to look at my personal emails. No signal. Huh. No problem, it will be back on soon.

Twenty minutes later and nothing. This is unusual, they normally only last a few minutes.

OK, I’ll read my book for ten minutes and then it will be back on.

Ten minutes later, nothing. By now, I was getting pretty wound up and the caged tiger was prowling again. I couldn’t even check if this was an actual Power Cut as I had no connection to the internet. Then, I remembered – my work phone is on O2….maybe it would have a signal where my EE phone didn’t. It did! Hurrah. I made it into a hotspot and got my laptop connected up to it. Answered the emails that had come in and then checked the Power Cut Checker website. It was an ACTUAL Power Cut! They had turned the power off so they could do some emergency repairs caused by the high winds last night. Annoying, but at least now I knew. It would be off for some time. No more emails to do, so I made the executive decision to nip out and run the errands I had planned to do at school pick up time. So off I went.

I had no sooner left the village when my phone bipped to say that our security camera was back online (it runs on the Wi-Fi) meaning the power was BACK ON. For god’s sake. Should I turn around like the conscientious person I am and carry on working, or just keep going? I kept going. I returned some stuff to one shop and then I went into the pound shop for some washing up liquid  – and came out with £12 worth of other items. What is it about pound shops? I can’t ever just go in for one thing and come out with one thing.  Anyway, I digress. I could write a whole blog post on that subject alone.

I got home and the power was indeed back on and when I checked the Power Cut Checker website it confirmed it was back on for good (or at least until the weekly mini cut that we will almost certainly get). Hurrah.

What both these episodes have highlighted is two things: I am not patient (we already knew this) and we rely massively on electricity. I’ve just finished reading a novel set in the early 1800’s and I do wonder if I would have found living in that era less frustrating. If I had to go back in time, leaving behind all the convenience of life in the 21st Century, I would undoubtedly be a nightmare to live with. But never knowing the “joys” of technology and electricity, if I had been born into that time, would I have been less impatient? If I had to hand write everything, wait for a reply, walk everywhere, live life at a slower pace, perhaps I would not get so wound up. Or maybe I would have this trait regardless of what period of time I lived in, and as a 19th Century lady (I would probably more likely have been in service rather than being waited on, but this is a “what if” and we don’t have to be realistic) I would have fired countless ladies maids for being too slow to button my dress up. Ok, we need to stop right there: the idea of wearing dresses is a step too far, even in a “what if” scenario.

Let’s just say, this week has done nothing to help my goal of being more zen-like but I just have to accept that sometimes life will conspire against me. Next week will be better. Positive, see? That’s me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sea change

sea change

Two years ago, I wrote a blog about The summer holidays and why I think they are too long and, at that time, I meant it. (I might have meant it last year as well but last summer wasn’t your bog-standard so I probably didn’t give it much thought – I just wanted the whole thing to go away.)

This summer I have felt differently. OK, I admit, at the beginning of the 6 weeks I had some fleeting thoughts of, “oh god, here we go again, this is going to drag.” But, it was only fleeting and now that it is the eve of the return to school I can’t believe how quickly the 6 weeks have passed.

It’s maybe that the six weeks have been broken up by two lovely (separate) weeks away. There’s definitely something to be said for breaking the weeks up – we went away the second week, so the first week was busy and full of thoughts of the coming holiday; and again for the last full week so we had three weeks in between where the kids could see friends, we could go out on my days off and look forward to the final week’s holiday. There was a lot of counting down to the last week and it was well worth the wait.

We came home from Suffolk on Friday and I have to admit to having leaky eyes when we were leaving. I have a tendency to wake up early, even on holiday, which is irritating – I would like to have lie-ins – but is also quite nice in some ways. I quite liked getting up when everyone else was asleep and having a cup of tea, reading my book and easing gently into the day ahead. This in itself is a change for me. Before, I would have felt resentment at being awake, being the one to be awake first and making a cup of tea; I’d clatter around to get the point across that I was awake and doing stuff. Ridiculous. On our last day I was, of course, awake even earlier knowing we had to be out by 10am and had a lot of packing up still to do. Sitting outside on the patio with a cuppa and some toast I honestly didn’t ever want to move. It wasn’t just that the place was so beautiful, so quiet – just birdsong and trees rustling – and the weather so perfect. It was everything that is different when we’re away.

When we’re away, we take more time. We talk to each other more. We laugh more. We do things we wouldn’t do at home – e.g. I would NEVER have contemplated setting an alarm for 5.45am to see the sunrise with my daughter at home, NEVER. We relax more. We hug more. We smile at each other more. We’re just more there. Of course, we still argue (bicker, really), we still irritate, annoy, wind each other up. There’s still cooking to do and washing up to do. But somehow it seems less of a thing, less of a chore.

With all the best intentions I could have sat there and vowed to carry this on when we got home. We WOULD still go on bike rides together, we would talk more and spend time in each others company more. But, of course, I’m a realist and I knew that it wouldn’t happen and THAT is why I had leaky eyes. I was going to miss laying on the beach with T’s head in my lap. I would miss standing in the shallows of the sea, paddling with A. I would miss the walks and the holding hands and the other-worldness of it all.

And of course, the reality since we came home has been me up early on Saturday getting three washloads done before anyone even stirred (I did sit outside on the patio for ten minutes with a cuppa but 6 planes flew over in that space of time and kind of ruined the vibe I was going for!); having food shopping delivered; sorting out uniforms for school tomorrow; and back to work yesterday. Just as I knew it would be on Friday morning. But this is why we have holidays. It’s not reality, it’s a short break from it all and all the more special for it. If I could sit outside every morning; if we were able to go on bike rides or walks or to the beach every day; if we spent every day together we would soon get bored of it and sick of each other.

So, we had a great time and breaking up the holiday into two separate weeks was a winning idea. But what else is different? We had three weeks in between the holidays and they were fine. I’m not going to harp on about it being better because the kids are older as I’ve done that to death and it can’t all be down to that. I actually had some small pangs of longing for the days when they were little and we would build sandcastles on the beach instead of sitting talking, listening to music, reading and eating. There were some small moments when I felt a bit sad that I don’t HAVE to paddle any more, but I can if I want to and not because I have been nagged to (although that did happen once!). It’s true that I have to be less available these days and am generally only needed as an Uber substitute rather than for my company. It’s also true that the kids are now actually happy to spend all day in bed or in PJ’s with nothing more to entertain them than a mobile phone, if the weather has stopped them going out.

I can’t put my finger on the reason for the change of heart. I would still like to have longer at May half term but I don’t know that it should be taken from the Summer holidays. Maybe next year I will be back to my original thinking and will be tearing my hair out. But I think not.

 

 

 

 

Pure Joy

When A went to her induction day at secondary school last July she met another girl, O, who was going to be in her new form. She hit it off with her at the time and although she didn’t get to see her over last year’s summer holidays she was in touch with her by text and the usual social media ways that (pre)teens use to keep in touch these days and they became firm friends when they started school in September. The friendship is brilliant. O is bubbly, fun, kind, lovely. A has made lots of other friends in the last year, she’s been invited to tea after school, parties, days out. One of the best things about her friendship with O is that they are not jealous girls. They have no qualms about each other having other friends. O doesn’t bat an eyelid if A is busy doing something with someone else and vice versa. Almost like the way that boys conduct their friendships, but with prettier hair and nicer clothes and a bit more squealing.

This summer they have seen a lot of each other, but they haven’t been in each others pockets the whole time. A has seen other friends and she has had days when she hasn’t wanted to do anything other than slob around in PJ’s and re-arrange her room for the hundredth time; bake cakes; we’ve been on holiday; we’ve had family time. She has finally seemed to find her place. She has slotted in and she is happy. She refers to other girls as “populars” but has no designs to be one; she is happy with her place in her world.

O has just arrived at our house to spend the day here. I beat A to the door and O announced “I’m here” as A came squealing down the stairs “is it O?!!!” They hugged and squealed a bit more. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the squealing, but they were so happy to see each other (it must be, at most, 36 hours since they were last in each others company) it made me smile and was a proper moment of pure joy.

I’m trying to throw off my old habit of expecting the worst. I’m not going to say “touch wood it will continue”. I’m not going to say any of my usual ‘fear the worst and if it doesn’t happen then that’s good’ mantras. I am going to enjoy seeing her happy with her friends and try and ensure that she can go to things she gets invited to – she has a good few years of making up to do on this front and if it means I have to taxi her all over the place then it’s a small price to pay to see her happy.

I know from my own experience that friendships change: people make new friends, fall out, move groups, move away, and she may well not be friends with O in six months, a year, two years time. But for now she is having a great time with a great friend and I love it.

 

 

 

The results are in

I know at least one of you (probably only one of you, in fact) is dying to know how the list-less holiday went. Well, I can happily report that we didn't forget anything crucial, we didn't have any disasters and we all lived happily ever after. K had a brief moment of not-quite-but-nearly-panic when he realised that the boot of the Mercedes is considerably smaller than the one in the previous car (S-Max) and that we might struggle to get everything in (we did, struggle that is) but we got in the essentials (clothes, cool-bag, bodyboards) and it was All Fine, until the repeat performance for the return journey when he wasn't quite so calm as there was no option to leave stuff behind.

Not having a list (or lists, or lists of lists) was liberating. Packing at 10pm the night before travelling was interesting. Repacking the next morning  - the mini suitcase I had opted to take was causing no end of distress to the car boot-packer so I had to resort to the only (tiny) holdall that was left (everyone else had already nabbed the bigger ones the night before)  - was slightly unnerving but I actually only wore two-thirds of the severely downsized pile that I ended up taking, so lesson learnt for the next holiday (in 18 days and, yes, I AM COUNTING).

Not having a list of must-see places or any sort of itinerary was inspired, because it meant that the 2 days of solid rain we had didn't spoil any plans, we just had to go along with it and make the most of the lovely sunny days we had. The only planning we did was to look at the forecast the night before (still not a cast-iron guarantee but we had to base it on something) and think about where we would like to go. I had a mental list of possible places and the house we were renting had a whole host of leaflets for days out, so we had no shortage of ideas. We managed to see all of the places we wanted to see – Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Kimmeridge fossil beach (a wave-cut platform, actually, not a beach, as I was informed by the soon to be year 11 GCSE'er) and Studland Bay. All beautiful. All made me fall in love with the UK coast all over again. All made me wonder why we ever think about going abroad – until it rained again.

One thing I did remember to take was my camera. K bought me a camera for my 40th birthday and has berated me ever since when we go to places and I don't have it with me. I've got so used to using my phone camera and instantly "sharing" my snaps that the camera just gets forgotten. But, as part of my 'going off grid' plan for the holiday I decided that if I took my camera I wouldn't be tempted to go online and share stuff and subsequently get caught up in what the world at large was up to. Another winning idea. Apart from checking the weather app (for what it was worth), keeping an eye on emails (you never know when you're going to get 20% off something you had no intention of buying) and looking at directions, I haven't really used my phone that much. And since we came home I have uploaded my photos onto the laptop and I've really looked at them. They are now in an album which I have added to my Google Photos and I can look at them whenever I want to. And they're far better than ones I take on my phone – no filters, no messing about. Just really good pics.

It has to be said, sitting on a beach while your, thankfully much older, kids are messing about in the sea or laying around listening to music, is very relaxing. Being able to tell your, thankfully much older, kids that there is no more food and that the "loos are that way – see you in a minute" and not being met with any complaints is quite nice. Being able to walk down to the local shops from the house your renting, with your husband, while the kids are still laying around in bed in the morning is quite nice. Mainly because they aren't there to nag you to buy twice as much food as you need and they can't complain about what you have bought because "they should have got up and come with us" (no! please don't!). I know I keep saying it, but the older they get the more and more I like them. Don't get me wrong, they can still be very annoying (teenage brains letting them down on the remembering stuff front; A hitting a sugar low around 4pm and crashing in the mood stakes; not to mention smellier feet than I ever imagined; and not going to bed til really late) but they are also really good company and actually quite interesting and knowledgeable (wave-cut platforms, etc). Being away with them is quite easy and er, hmm, I quite like them. Being told by someone you think the world of (you know who you are) that they are "a credit to you" makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and pretty proud of myself. Yes, you heard it right. Proud of myself. I'm even starting to almost like myself as a parent.

So, all in all being list-less was a winner. The holiday was great. Coming home not so much, as it always heralds the return to normality with work looming on the close horizon – even having a whole weekend to get used to the idea didn't really help as it was 2 days of torturous thinking about Monday being only 2 days, only 1 day, tomorrow… and it's here. But I have started my countdown on the lightbox – only 18 days to go! No lists, no plans, no suitcase. Just a few clothes, my camera and, this time, my bike. And off we will go.

 

 

List-less

For years, whenever we have been going away – even for just a few days – I have written lists. One year I needed a list of all my lists, there were so many. I've always seen lists as a saviour, as something I can't live without. With lists I was in control and knew exactly what I needed to do. I had lists for other people so THEY knew what they had to do and I thought it was all a brilliant way of going about it.

In recent months, I have been making myself challenge the way I deal with things. Not Big Things, just Small Things that I get stressed or annoyed about and that make me stress other people out in the process (or annoy them, which is far worse). For example, cooking dinner every night. A Small Thing, but I used to get so wound up by having to decide what we were going to eat, decide what I needed to buy from the supermarket, actually do the shopping, the cooking. Deciding, shopping, cooking. And on and on it went. So now, we agree what we want to eat as a family (I still order the stuff we need – I can't change the world overnight – slowly slowly catchy monkey) and K cooks a few times a week now (and seems to be enjoying it mostly). Over the summer I have announced that one night each week a child will cook. I say child. They're not kids anymore really, young adults. And very capable of knocking up a dinner for four people. So why did I get so stressed and annoyed if it's not difficult? Because I don't want to be the one making ALL the decisions ALL the time and it's very nice to have dinner cooked for me now and again. Thank you.

So, back to the lists. I still write a shopping list, I haven't got that good a memory, but I have decided to ditch the lists for other things. Like to-do-lists and holiday lists. I realised that the lists were actually making me more stressed. By writing a list I was taking responsibility for it all. I was saying "look, I've got this, I am in control and if we get to our holiday destination and we don't have something important then it is all MY fault". And believe me, it's happened. And the consequence is me feeling terrible, other people feeling annoyed and the holiday loses it's sheen of loveliness. So, instead of saying "I've got this", I've said "pack what you want to take". Job done. I realise this is easier now that the 'young adults' are, well, young adults and can decide how many T-shirts they want to take. T has packed his own bag for at least the last 4 trips that he has been on and I haven't even asked him how many pairs of pants he has in his bag. See, progress! So, if someone doesn't have a phone charger, well then they will be very sad but they will be annoyed at themselves and not me. If they don't have enough pants, well, er, they will have to wash them or go commando. But it won't be MY fault.

(N.B. I've jotted down things like 'cool box' and 'picnic blanket' because they are in the garage and I don't rummage around in the man cave.)

I have NOT made a list of places we MUST go to while we are away. We have a map that a lovely friend has lent us and some leaflets; we have the National Trust app; we have our brains and the internet if we get stuck. I started to write a list of places and forced myself to throw it away – for so many years I have had my list and it's rained and the list sat there making me feel sad that we were not going to get to these lovely places I had planned to go to. Not this year. I am going to wake up each morning, check the forecast and as a family WE will decide where we are going and WHAT we will do and WHERE we will get food, etc, etc.

I'm not saying that this is going to be the best holiday we've ever had; equally I'm not saying that every holiday that has gone before has been a disaster; but I am saying that I am NOT going to be in charge.

So I may be list-less but I feel quite free and quite excited by the idea.

Another N.B. I am not going to be 'online' while I am away. I am not going to be checking in, or checking other peoples check-in's. I am going to take some lovely pictures using my camera (if I remember to take it – ha ha!) and I will post them when I get home, if I want to.

 

One third of a lifetime

It’s a funny old thing hitting 45 (as I did a month ago). As I said to K at the time, it’s proper middle age now, on the basis that 90 would be more than long enough, thank you very much. We went to see my brother, P, and his family at the weekend and we were reminiscing about a U2 concert we went to in our twenties. He has recently been to see them on their latest tour and it got us wondering about the year we went. We speculated for a few minutes, trying to work out where we were both working at the time, who we went with, etc, until he resorted to good old Google and discovered it was 1993 – the Zooropa tour. We were only out by a year or so but we were both shocked by how long ago it was. 1993 doesn’t sound that long ago to my ears, but 24 years ago sounds like a lifetime. In fact, it is exactly half of my brothers lifetime, being as he turns 48 tomorrow.

Someone else with a birthday tomorrow is my lovely boy. I like that he was born on my brother’s birthday – they are very alike in many ways and not all good ones – although at the time I was just desperate for him to finally be born after a couple of excruciating days and nights in the hospital. That was 15 years ago. One-third of my lifetime. I have held and loved this boy for 15 years; for a third of my life. Sometimes I can’t imagine or remember time before him. Although, the first few hours/days/months/years were hard going my life has been so much fuller, happier and just downright better with him in it than the years that went before (they were still very happy years, by the way, just to make that clear). Even if I sometimes feel as if I have my teenage brother as my son – sounds weird, believe me it’s even weirder living it – with his unwavering ability to wind me up and irritate me in the EXACT same way that P used to; although he may be smelly and grumpy at times; and even thought he has horrible feet; he makes me very proud.

With the two peas-in-a-pods birthdays imminent, so comes the end of the school year. My “on this day” app yesterday gave me a memory from 4 years ago – at T’s junior school leavers assembly. It seems incredible that this time next year he can leave school. And that A has almost finished her first year at secondary. Sometimes, I would like time to slow down, just a little bit.