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Monday, July 27, 2015

Boy to man

Given my son is off in Greece enjoying himself today on his 18th birthday, I am not spending my evening taking him to dinner or throwing him a party or any of the other things I might have been doing had he been here. So as a wee experiment I thought I would look at him through the years to see how a boy becomes a man. I've sewn together photos from he was 8 weeks old till last month, at 12 monthly intervals. He'll probably kill me for doing so, but hey, if he hadn't booked a holiday with his mates to Zante, I would not have had the time on my hands to do it! :-)

So here's his life time, so far, in just 19 images:

Marcel aged 8wks, 1yr, 2yrs, 3yrs, 4yrs

Marcel aged 5yrs, 6yrs, 7yrs, 8yrs, 9yrs, 10yrs

Marcel aged 11yrs, 12yrs, 13yrs,14yrs,15yrs

Marcel aged 16 yrs, 17yrs and finally 4 wks short of 18 yrs.

It's funny. I can still see baby Marcel in them all. I think the biggest jump in a year, well after the first one anyway, is between 11 and 12... It looks like the next 18 months might see some interesting changes in his little brother in that case, as he is about to hit ten!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A subconscious mismatch of perception

So Marcel is off today in Edinburgh at an all-day interview with a well-known banking group, trying to win a university scholarship. I am at home with the other four. I dropped him in Glasgow around 6-30am, all suited and booted with his cappuccino-to-go. I left him half way up Bothwell Street about fifteen minutes before his train, if you want to be precise. And does he think to text me at any point between 6-45am and 8-45am, when he was to have found the building somewhere in Haymarket and found the interview panel? Of course not!

You see, he knows he's an adult and can find his way to the station in Glasgow, buy the right ticket, get to Edinburgh and wander around with his GPS on his phone looking for the building in question and get there in plenty of time. Consciously, I know it too - he's trekked in the Himalayas, so of course he can. But it was only yesterday I gave birth to him, so a teeny wee text saying 'I managed to find the place, mum' wouldn't go amiss!

I guess I'll just sit here till 8pm then?


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Slug warrior


Now this is what I call dedication.

After discovering a week ago that our garden had become overrun with slugs (our courgettes, sunflowers, chilis and squashes were disappearing overnight and the potatoes and cabbage were also becoming overly holey), Thomas set out to reclaim our territory. Not wanting to spread poison on food we are growing for our own consumption, he decided the best bet was simply to catch and kill them. I followed him around for three nights illuminating the raised beds, the greenhouse and the lawn with my mobile phone as he filled several large jars with juicy blighters, mixed with cooking salt, of course. The weather has now taken a turn for the worse. My phone can't stand the rain and I can't stomach the cold so a new solution has been found... a 22 LED caving lamp off Ebay (at the impressive sum of £2.50!), some disposable plastic gloves from Makro and several more jars and he can now hunt slugs, alone till his heart's content! We will win this one!

Monday, July 13, 2015

The beginning of the end of childhood

Glasgow Necropolis

I remember when Marcel was around thirteen looking backwards, trying to nail down when childhood ended and adolescence started. A number of factors led me to believe it was around ten and a half. Of course, when Marcel was ten and a half I didn't notice the small signs, those only hit me afterwards. 

Having been through it twice before, I am more in tune this time round. Léon will be ten in two months time. Of course, he is still a little boy, but the beginning of the end is already there, if you look closely. Most clearly for me is his attitude to play parks. I remember that with Marcel too. He went almost overnight from running around like a daftie, to looking bored and restless every time we went to one on a Saturday afternoon. (With Charlotte it was more apparent with softplay - she went from climbing to asking for a coffee and sitting watching Léon!)

Twice during these holidays I have taken Léon to a play park: Rouken Glen and Chatelherault country park. At the country park, he bounced off like a gazelle and climbed
 Chatelherault country parkquickly to the top of the tall climbing rope, but then as the girls moved round all the other objects in the park, he simply sat down on the bench with the adults and Charlotte and watched. He wasn't tired or sad, just a little beyond that point, as if he no longer needed to swing. He was happy to chat to us but I could see his interest in these childhood delights was waning. He was far more interested in the forest at the country park as it offered a greater challenge.

Chatelherault country park

Then last week I took him to Rouken Glen. That's a park he has often visited so it holds no challenges. From the outset, he just wasn't engaged and stood chatting to the adults. Even six months ago in the same place, he'd immediately have run off and befriended the first male child he saw and climbed with him. Now he wants to 'chill'!

But there's still some time left. I could see he was much happier to be dumped on a beach the following day with the remit of exploring the rock pools.

I guess it is a wake-up call to open my eyes and witness every last minute before, he, like Marcel before him, leaves childhood behind him altogether. There's a bitter sweetness involved in it all. As I watch childhood die, this time round at least, I know that what you get at the other end of the process is a true friend who you enjoy spending time with and talking to as an equal!

Marcel last came on the family summer holiday at 15. He would love to still come on that (not that we're having one this year) but he also wants to go off alone and return to recount his exploits. That gives me five more summers to relish.

How fast childhood passes when you're the parent.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

A moment in time

I was looking at google maps this morning to see where we could go on day trips. Leaning over me, Anna asked me to click on street view to see what our house and garden looked like. It was photographed in the summer of 2011, according to the time stamp, and what did I see? A simple shot, taken as the google car drove past my garden, but a treasured moment too: Marcel sitting in the garden chatting to my dad, who died a year later. An unexpected moment of normality sitting there on the Internet, waiting to be discovered.


In her fifteen years I have never managed to get Charlotte to eat jam. She loves fruit and has a very sweet tooth but decided at birth that jam was disgusting. I've always found that surprising.

At the moment we have much too much rhubarb in the garden and the kids are on holiday so I thought coaxing Lots to make rhubarb and vanilla jam might help. She agreed happily to make the jam and when it came time to test if it was setting on a frozen plate, I caught her licking a finger. 'This is actually quite nice!' she stated! Amazing.

Now I too have tasted her jam, I have to say I'm a bit miffed. I've been making jam with our rhubarb for the last six or seven years. Her first batch tastes better than mine and has a much better consistency!