Here I am again, sitting in the junk room at home, emptying my head into the keyboard. I have no adventures to relate as such – other than wanting to kill next door’s dog, which has barking non-stop all morning. I’ve turned Spotify up to eleven to drown it out. An eighties playlist is waking the children up – Paul Simon is singing “You Can Call Me Al”.
My other half has gone to visit her Mum for the day with our youngest, leaving me here with Miss 13 and Miss 17. It’s nearing 11am and I haven’t seen them yet. I’ve just filled the washing machine for the first time today – when it finishes a load the house falls silent, and it feels strange – this house is *never* silent.
I suppose I do have a story to tell, but it’s not really my own. Forgive me if this ends up being heavily filtered.
At about ten to nine last night my other half walked into the junk room, where I was busy tinkering with things that didn’t need tinkering with, and announced that Miss 17, who had *promised* to catch the train that would deliver her home by 9, had just texted that she had twisted her ankle en-route to the train station and had missed the train.
We both looked at each other. My other half was furious. I struggled to maintain a straight face, and tried for an eye-roll to cover up. She had promised to get the next train, in an hour. I agreed to walk to the train station to meet her.
Of course we both knew she was full of shit. She must think we were born yesterday.
I met her from the train station, and pointed out the pub she would have to walk past on the way home.
“This is the reason I’ve come to meet you – if you ever DO find yourself coming back late and there are people around outside the pub, go straight into the pub and call us from there to fetch you.”
“One of our friends had to a few years ago – there was a strange drunk guy hanging around on the opposite side of the road – she messaged on Facebook, and waited in the pub.”
I guess this will be our lot for the next year or so – deconstructing the safe bubble she has lived within – a bubble of our own creation – slowly making her aware of the dangers that exist in the “real world” so that she may be better armed to have more independence. It’s not a fun thing to have to think about at all.
While we walked through the quiet streets towards home (there was no trace of a limp, by the way), I broke the ice about a HUGE secret that’s been going on.
“Just so you know, I know all about you and [redacted name]”.
“Oh? Did Mum tell you?”
“Yes, but I had guessed.”
“When did she tell you?”
“The same night you told her. We do talk you know.”
She smiled, and it was like a huge weight lifted off her shoulders. An invisible wall fell, and we chatted about all sorts of things while walking through the darkness.
I can’t help thinking about a conversation I often have with people that don’t have children. There is no instruction book for any of this stuff – all you can do is go on your best instincts, and best judgement about what decisions to make as they crop up. For younger children it’s almost easier, because you have so much more to go on, but with teenagers it’s almost “The Undiscovered Country”. Letting them go as safely as you can, but also affording them as much freedom as you can is difficult.