Attempting to make it as a writer

Posts tagged ‘teenagers’

Parental Pick-up

changing timesIt is not often these days I do the school run but I had to this week and I now realise how far my life has changed.

For 13 years I had children in primary school and although there were many configurations of shared delivery and collection to the schools involved I spent many of those years meeting lively excitable children tumbling from the classroom.   I like most other parents chatted amiably to the others stood in the cold and wet or occasionally glorious sunshine.   The British weather was always a sure fire starting point of conversation.

The playground pick up was a propagating ground for the foundations of lifelong friendships.  Inevitably we grouped around a particular door, or pathway where the year group exploded from at the end of the day.    Also inevitably despite the teachers insisting on parent punctuality, this did not reach as far as the inside of the classroom.

Often, and I should know having been both on the receiving end of this hand of help and having covered for other mothers.   A parent would wait at a younger siblings exit point leaving another to gather an older child from their escape route.   These small gestures of help extended beyond the action itself and sowed the seeds of friendship which were to last long beyond primary school.

Gossip was rife amongst the gatherers who having exhausted the British weather needed other stimuli to satiate their craving for conversation and inclusion.   People were happy to voice their opinions loudly but were also the first to rally round in a crisis.    It was a real treat to be able to help out someone in trouble.  It gave kudos and invited the gossip mongers to clamour like moths around a flame to hear her latest updates.   The helper became the focus with their accessibility and calm remoteness to convey the drama rather than the ragged emotions.

As children reached out to make new friends, they attended birthday parties or sports fixtures outside the protected environment of the school gate confine.   This led to the shared lift culture, giving friends of the children lifts to the said events.  It was reciprocal often one take, one collect but a coffee and cake or biscuits were always on the table at drop off.     Coffee led to longer stops and soon wine or beer as the events reached into evening.  Families got together until finally the children did their own things while the parents all mixed in little cliques of firm familiarity.   The children grew up and went onto top school but the foundations of the friendships formed by the parents flourished.

I went to pick Mini Son up from school this week queueing just to drive up the road even before finding a small space to park the car.   Remaining in the warm car as the hail hurtled earthwards outside dropping large boulders of iced sleet on the windscreen, the radio presenter entertained me with anecdotes, melodies and interviews.  Mini Son in true brotherly solidarity with the older two managed to be the last child to leave the school premises.

As I waited patiently in the cocoon of the car; my thoughts were drawn to the older children erupting from classes in a lava flow of dispersion, wearing nothing but tight skinnies, very mini mini- skirts which may have been large belts and flimsy t-shirts.  Gushing past me into the battered ghosts of once glorious cars which were revved and goaded in ear piercing gear screeching kangaroo jumps; I realised these were once the same children I stood waiting with their parents at the gates of the primary school.  They had shed their cute childish coyness, emerging as confident, self-assured, independent car driving teenagers.

Times they are a changing!

Writing

Although I struggle with finding time to write, I am still editing previous work.  I have two stories ready to send to a magazine, one is now as ready as I will ever get it, the other needs more editing – reads ok but way over the word limit so I need to get the knife and hash it about or maybe re-write.  I was challenged to write a piece for competition.  The challenge was not so much in the writing as in the short time I was given to complete it.   I managed it and sent off the piece,  I know it will not come anywhere as it will be up against some big names but to me the act of completing and sending off was the hurdle I successfully overcame.

Memories takes forever to edit as this has to go low down on the to-do pile but the edit is chugging along.  Some major re-writing will follow to hopfully bring it’s appeal to a much wider audiance.  Would love to have this with an agent before my annual inspirational pilgrimage to Swanwick this year, but no promises!

Enjoy the read and let me know how your lives are changing.

Tiggy

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Party Pranks

“Can I have a party?”

Five simple words, that struck horror into my soul.  Long gone are the days of jelly and ice-cream with pass the parcel; I had spent hours earlier wrapping.    Now a muffled memory is the magic show which turned peaches into goldfish, even the three fish have finally departed to a heavenly goldfish bowl in the sky.   The waterpark with a KFC just isn’t cool any longer and the idea of a paintballing or karting party does not appeal to 17 year olds.

Thinking I had weeks to get out of this one I waved the idea from my mind like a bad smell wafting through the kitchen.   Just like the odorous aroma it continued to return.   Our nightly discussions over our meal took on an wave of repetitiveness.

Can I have a party?

No?

Why not?

‘Because I say so’ no longer holds the same air of authority when your son is approaching 17 and stands a foot taller than you.   Sexy Sporty Dad and I had to come up with a stronger objection than that and quickly.

What is the real objection here; why are we scared of allowing a group of hormonal, drunk and emotional teenagers take over our home and kitchen for a night?  They might be sick.  They might break or destroy something precious like the house.  They may get themselves into trouble or injured and being hormonal drunk and emotional would probably not know how to deal with it.

You hear on the news about children having parties and the house being wrecked or someone taking something they shouldn’t even have access to and becoming seriously ill.   Are we being harsh tarring our son with the same brush as those other children who absent minded allowed their secret party publicised and then were unable to stop the devastation as they were overrun with professional party demolishers.

I attended a charity ball some while ago now.  I had spent many weeks convincing friends and colleagues to join one of my tables for a wonderful evening of eating, drinking and merriment.  As we all sat down one couple turned to another and said thanks for having our son for the evening.  A bemused look appeared on their faces until it was explained their kind son had invited the boy to spend the evening at the his house.

Alarm bells did not ring until another couple arrived after the first course and mentioned that theytoo had stopped at the party to control some over zealous party goers as they dropped their son at the same house.   It was the comment about bravery allowing the party while they were out  that proved to be the trigger to galvanise him.  He fled the table returning home to a very loud and uncontrolled party.   We saved his main course and pudding, he managed to get back again for coffee, biscuits and the main merriment.    The now cancelled party at home was being cleaned up by his son and the remaining sons from our group who were now all suitably chastised.

No 1 Son was at least asking to have his party and I knew he seemed to be on a circuit of partying since his GCSEs last summer.  It was a small group of about 20 who were working round the houses in some sort of rite of passage.   The clue was that the group had been allowed back to the houses even after the party had happened.

Of course I at that age attended parties regularly.  I had my own circle of friends who all attended the more formal fundraising events and my right of passage was assured as we drank a little too much, partied too much and learnt quickly how to disguise a hangover from our parents.

Something still prevented my agreement to this transition through teenagedom.

Is it that I remember my party held at home as a teenager.  My parents were away for the weekend, a rare event in itself, I was looking after not only the house but some of my siblings as well.  We decided to invite a few well chosen friends over for the evening with a few beers and wine.

The night went well, everybody enjoyed themselves.  There were no broken glasses, no ruined masterpieces and the inherited family furniture had no carvings.  In the words of every Scooby-Do criminal “we would have gotten away with it except for the pesky dog”.

after party blues

after party blues

Don’t ask!

I feigned serious concern to the dog’s wellbeing after all maybe she had contracted the infamous blue doggy ringworm.  Had she had a serious allergic reaction to the blueberry pie she may have helped herself to. Or maybe the mushrooms around the trees she liked to play near really magic : blue magic.

My bewildered parents may not have guessed the whole range of our duplicity had one of my younger siblings not dubbed us in.    The same sibling whose friends I had not allowed to the party on the grounds they could not get to our house out in the back of beyond and I was not spending the night driving them to and from when I had been given the remit of staying and looking after the house.

I use the nagging tactic a lot.  No 1 Son has watched me hassle, harass and hound people to attend fundraisers or to support my attempts to raise money for his team.  He has grown up watching my determination, deviousness and dedication to a cause so inevitably he was going to use the same tactics with us.

We agreed to the party on condition.   It was invitation only and not publicised on social media.  The house was clean before and after.  Nobody smoked inside and no-one was sick.  Middle Son was invited.

My good friend Natty invited us around for the evening and mini son was allowed to stay the night with her.  With a bottle of wine and trepidation we were ushered smartly out of the back door as people began arriving at the front.  I did mention to the surrounding neighbours that there was a party and if there was any problem to call us.

The wonderful thing about Natty is not only is she a very good friend she is also one of my very close neighbours and hence Mini Son and Mini Nat watched the party from an upstairs window with running commentary on who was in, who was out and what they were drinking.  Unless we actually stood outside her front door we could not hear the noise or chatter.

We drank, debated and discussed the merits of home parties before finally dozing. We decided to return to our own beds.  Sneaking, like gatecrashers through our front door we climbed the stairs to bed about 12.30 in the morning.    At 2am I sent a text to Middle Son who was the only person aware of our return.

“please turn music down or I will have to turn it off”

The noise became a low rumble and I fell asleep only to be woken early the next morning to find youngsters busy tidying my house for me.   The only tell-tale signs of a party

empties

empties

were a table full of empties and the fact that the house was so tidy.

Tucking into my evening meal last night I coughed and choked on a chipolata when No 1 Son asked

“Can I have a new year’s eve party?”

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

Running Rungs

Do you find there is a certain treadmill quality to life?

I know the seasons rotate in an orderly fashion; months following months, hot sometimes following cold.  Cold, wet winter chases the crisp frosty autumn days, just as blossoming spring precedes the fullness of summer and so on. The full moon wanes leading to the next crescent of new moon as the cycle begins again.

Was it only six or seven weeks ago we were all breaking up for that

Keep on climbing

long balmy summer ahead?   Plans of how we would survive those days trying to entertain the children were being drawn up.   Childcare being divided up between parents, grandparents and unusual educational activities.  Holidays to be prepared for, shopped for and enjoyed, precious days spent with loved ones.  The morning rush eased to permit treasured time to lie in or permission to watch CBBC. It already seems a blur on the fringes of our short term memory.

This weekend found me stepping back to the Rugby club with a new season already upon us.   Youngsters the country over will have been registering with their clubs, learning new laws as they move up an age level, meeting up with old friends they may not have seen since April.

I; too caught up with friends who I have missed over the months. Friends who have stood solidly by me over the years as our children have suffered injuries, lost important games and grown with the game.   There was a certain reassuring buzz of activity, smell of bacon butties and the constant flow of cheap instant caffeine that passes as coffee.

Even the forecasted sunshine kindly waited till the end of training to dry out the drizzle that had arrived on cue to welcome in the new season.   Routine resumed its rightful order as boots were tried out for size, outgrown shorts that had just about lasted till the end of last season were replaced and shiny new mouth guards bought to protect developing teeth.

This rugby heralded the cog in the ever moving treadmill of life; children will this week return to school.  Back from all the holidaying; now only a distant memory, flashing past on the digital photo frame.   The juggling with childcare is finished as we hand our precious children back over to their new teachers.   Some will be moving to new schools, colleges or universities; some will climb a rung on the well-worn ladder of their school hierarchy and some will be out in the world wondering where to go next.

I know this week will bring tears and heartbreak for mothers of reception aged children suddenly seeing their tiny tot in a complete new school uniform, breaking the baby bonds that up until now have been unyielding.  Little people venturing out into a world without their mother’s perpetually protective hand supporting those faltering fearful footsteps.

Other mothers will suffer the effects of their children’s nerves; they will tolerate the self-importance of young adolescence and take a step back as their little one grows independent and superior joining the masses at Top School.   Giving their once infants the space to be a big child in a world of even bigger children and learn to make their own waves in this ocean we call life.

There will be mothers who will reluctantly transport their offspring away to some way off university.   Leaving their homesick tearful teenager in some bleak utilitarian room to carve their own way in the world, knowing this is the final bond to be broken as they allow their child to grow away from them.     Reluctantly, leaving alarmed adolescents with reassurance, resolutions and reliance despite all their own reservations.

I feel lucky this year that I do not have to overcome the emotions of a momentous change in the cogs although No 1 Son is moving into sixth form.  The change for him will not be as dramatic as he stays at the same school; nonetheless he will have to make his own decisions about how much he studies, what he wants to achieve from his A ‘levels and how he will apply them to his life.  It will be a big jump for him to take control of his future; the same future he does not know what he wants to do with.

Middle Son glides up to this final year of GCSEs which he will find harder than before, not only due to the level of work from school but from the level of support for his schoolwork he will receive from his parents.    Here is a boy who could achieve so much if he only focused long enough to acquire the necessary information to apply it.   Had there been GCSE’s in BMXing, X-boxing or I-Padding he would be guaranteed straight A s.  Unfortunately he is going to have to work hard this year to get the grades within his grasp.

Mini Son becomes a big fish in the small pond as he joins year 6, the final year before moving up to big school.   He will be a role model for the younger classes a task he will fulfil brilliantly.  He will be coerced into independence as he learns to accept responsibility and study hard filling in the missing bits of his education before bridging the gap and joining throngs of know it all secondary school children.

I will also return to my job at the school this week, sad to say farewell to the summer that never really materialised in terms of the weather.   Reluctant to welcome those manic mornings trying to get all five of us out of the door in different directions on time with all the remembered kit for the day ahead.  Unenthusiastic to return to the drudgery of routine after my long weeks of freedom from humdrum tedium, I know that it is only a matter of time before the wheel of time turns further.

Before we know it, half term will be upon us with Christmas poking its pointed head in our direction.  The New Year will be here all too soon and then we will be half way through the school calendar.  Exams will be sat and then the long holidays upon us again turning yet another full turn of that wheel.

I shall continue to climb the rungs of the treadmill expecting to reach the haven of happiness at the top but never quite arriving there as the wheel turns again for another season.

Whatever stage of the wheel you are at, keep climbing and keep focused.  It is so easy to fall off the spinning circle but never easy to climb back on.

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

Fighting Felines

My garden is a permanent battle ground for local cats at the moment. I was tolerant but since the demise of Tetley last summer, who had the monopoly on my garden; the neighbourhood moggy population has decided that I am fair game.  Well game on moggies because I am fighting back.

Now don’t get me wrong I am not against pets and realise for many people they can be life enhancing companions.  However they are not for me.  We have two rabbits Magic and her son Smudge whose lives are so boring and non functional that you have to question their raison d’etre.  Once in a while they escape and have a fun packed day in our garden feeding off my herbs and vegetables.   Not unlike Mrs McGregor I threaten to put them in the pot ready stuffed with herbs.

Of course, despite my antipathy towards them I could not serve them up in a stew.  I have eaten and cooked rabbit, as a child helped rear poultry for food and I am happy to coo and admire my sister’s pigs and lambs before buying said meat from her and producing wonderful family meals.  My self sufficiency does not really extend to putting the family pets in the pot whatever havoc they may have wreaked upon my barely budding beans and prolific parsley plants.

We also have Reg; the cockatiel, who is a story in his own right and one day I will embellish liberally on Reg and his exploits.   He thrives on human company having moments of self expression when he sings and talks incessantly.  Thankfully the effort for him is short lived leaving him exhausted and in need of yet another nap.

I have entertained the idea of a puppy in the house on many occasions; it could be a deterrent for the faction of felines defecating in my herb garden.   Three children would be delighted at the arrival of a tiny bundle of mischievous fur with their promises to look after it and walk it, clear up after it etc.    I, generously would give it a week before I was walking it and maybe not that long before I was the one clearing up the little packages left whilst we were asleep or at work.    Not to mention the chewed shoes and ripped clothes left lying around by teenage boys.

I cannot even begin to imagine the attraction of getting up in the rain and snow and embarking on a trek across the fields with nappy sack in hand.   On a particularly cold morning I guess the warmth of the filled nappy sack could potentially have benefits but one I struggle to accept.  When I have my mansion with suitable area of garden for dogs to run and do their business, I may reconsider my feelings towards muts in general.  For now my home and already cluttered life remains resiliently puppy free.

The same cannot be said for cats.   They come in to my garden uninvited and use it as a public meeting place watching the rabbits for signs of escape so they can enjoy a well fed tasty takeaway.   They sit at the conservatory window , their eyes transfixed on Reg, waiting for the door to be left ajar so they can sneak up against his cage salivating.   They use my ornate bath herb garden for their toileting habits and are not in the least bit penitent.

It is time to fight back.  I have finally been driven to the point of insanity and invested in a cat repellent device which I have gleefully

Claiming back the herbs

installed in the bath.   The adverse, although some might see it as positive, effect of this little tool is the deterrent effect it has on teenagers.   The gadget emits a high pitch sonic drone which really seems to bother the ears of my two teenage boys.   Mini Son can hear it but is not agitated by it.  I can hear nothing.

I woke this morning to an ultra low eerie wave of sound, a little like the sweep of the old air raid klaxon but far more futuristic, similar to the continual wave of a Jedi lightsaber.  Realising the device was turned on and in some spooky retribution I was being subjected to punishment I leapt from the covers and ran into the garden to turn it off before the whole family was wakened.

Standing in a cold damp garden in just my nighty and bare feet I found the machine already off and the noise dissipating into the foggy distance.  Was it an alien alerting his amigos, a walker whistling for his disappearing dog or a complex and confusing additional dimension to the dream I was dragged from?  Or maybe the moggies are fighting back. I may never know but I do understand the low sonic wave the boys find annoying and will remember to turn it off when they are around.

Needless to say I have not seen any cats all weekend and even the dogs, whose owners are not so diligent, have failed to leave their little gifts where the children all play.  Even more remarkably there has been a lack of teenagers hanging round the house; so there may be some benefit after all.

It has been a busy week for writing,   I have sent off 6 stories to the Reader’s Digest 100 word story for this year’s competition, hoping to match Middle Son’s success last year at the very least.   100 words is not a lot and the whole story has to pivot round one sharp scene with a twist in the final sentence.   In contrast I am writing a short story on conflict for which I am researching Hindu religious culture and producing some interesting first person prose.  It may end up too long to be a short story but I can’t tell yet if there is enough backfill to make a novel.

I was approached at work a couple of weeks ago to pen a press release.   Delighted with the challenge and recognition I sent off the piece to the local paper and was over the moon when it was published the following week.  I claimed ownership from them to add to my portfolio; you know the ever increasing published and unpaid writing portfolio, people I have worked with for years suddenly found me interesting albeit transitory.

Finally I have launched a new blog.  This has been a long time in the making not because it is difficult but time and events always seem to have delayed its creation. It is a very different type of blog with a few words introducing recipes and comments after to tell how they went down.   I hope people will interact and give advice and comments back so the original recipes become catalysts developing online threads  and experimental menus.  Please take a look and try out the recipes, let me know what you think.  http://tiggy-tea.blogspot.com/

Happy eating I am off to clear out the herb garden and plant fresh for this year so we can actually use the cat free herbs.

Tiggy

 

 

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