Washing and Writing

We got home on Wednesday. It’s now Saturday. The washing machine is still going. I think we can see the end of the washing mountain now though (thankfully). It’s just a case of getting it all dry, folding it, and putting it away – which we know won’t happen, don’t we. A family home isn’t homely unless there are piles of clean washing stacked everywhere.

I’m listening to Spotify while writing this. We signed up for a family account while we were away – so the kids could listen to music in the car without chewing through data. I need to remember to cancel it soon.

I posted some writing on Medium last night – a few thoughts about the ridiculousness of the whole “productivity” charade. I’m trying really hard to write about “me”, rather than “you”, because “you” looks far too much like mansplaining. I’m not quite sure what happened in my head, but in recent months mansplaining has become a massive trigger for me – as soon as I see it, I have to resist the temptation to reply to the author “thank you for mansplaining that to me”.

It’s not just men that mansplain – my middle daughter is a master at it – mostly because she is as literal as Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. On more than one occasion she has laughed (very late) at a joke, turned to us all, and started with “that’s funny because…”

Did I mention that I’m on a diet? Our middle daughter needs to lose weight, and we could all do with losing a few pounds, so thought “why not”. There is now a ban on snacks around the house. I guess this is three years of sedentary pandemic behaviours catching up with us. The end goal – for my daughter – is to pass the army fitness test. Yes, you heard that right – she’s looking at the army as a possible future. I’m not worried about that at all.


Thunderbirds are Go

Today has been a good day. A long day, a tiring day, a draining day, but also a good day.

After the alarm clock went off at 6am this morning I scraped myself out of bed, jumped in the shower, brushed my teeth, pulled yesterday’s clothes on, and wandered downstairs to make a coffee.

Six months after breaking her leg in a freak accident at rugby, this morning I took my youngest daughter across the county for a consultant to look at x-rays and decide if she can start her path towards recovery in earnest. After walking this way and that through a huge hospital in search of the correct department, and after more walking this way and that in search of the x-ray department, we eventually found ourselves sitting in front of the consultant we have been waiting months to see.

My daughter’s leg is “good to go”. It’s healed perfectly. She can now set about building back the muscle she has lost, start running regularly, and throw herself into rugby tackles once more.

I wrote a short note on Facebook – “Thunderbirds are go!”

Guess who will obviously be charged with accompanying her on said running escapades? I don’t actually mind, because I need a good reason to go running anyway.

We arrived home from the hospital early in the afternoon, and I walked straight into a wall of meetings, development work, and more meetings. Not fun.

Something else happened today though. Something that turned a stressful, tiring day into a quite wonderful day. I received word from an old friend – a friend I have not spoken to for some time, but who has never been far from my thoughts. I found myself sitting on the bus early this morning grinning like an idiot – shaking my head at the tricks the universe plays as soon as you take your eyes off it.


Ends and Beginnings

My middle daughter officially finished college yesterday.

She’s not going to university, so is heading off into the world. While she has her mind set on a career in the police, we’re trying to slow her down a bit – encouraging her to take a year out, go work some different jobs, and live a little first. Get some life experience.

We were talking to a good friend who works for the metropolitan police in London recently, and she remarked that it’s not a race – and that the younger officers coming through could really do with more life experience before they arrive.

I guess we’ll wait and see what happens.

Last night we went out for a meal together – to celebrate the end of college – and afterwards wandered through the big park in the middle of town together. All five of us.

Quite often our eldest daughter doesn’t come out, but we talked her into it. She suffers a lot with anxiety, but has been having good days recently. Long may it continue – she’s a wonderful person, but nobody really knows she exists. I had hoped in the past that the internet might provide an avenue for her to make friends, but she’s as reclusive if not even more so online than in the real world.

It’s difficult.

Today I am up to my ears in work – as per usual – and trying to keep on top of chores around the house at the same time. I’m only too aware that I haven’t said hello to any friends on the internet in quite some time. I need to fix that.


Sunday Night

In recent months I have often found myself writing blog posts in the dead of night. Perhaps it’s a reflection on the number of things I’m trying to juggle at once.

The weekend has been quiet. Sometimes quiet is good.

We watched some more of the movie “Dune” last night. It says something that when we eventually finish watching it, it will have taken three attempts – three sessions to make it through a long movie. That’s just how chaotic our life is right now.

Last night I made it through the middle hour of the movie before walking into town at midnight to accompany my daughter home from work (she works at a pub).

She’s applying to join the police this year, but we’re quietly wondering if we should encourage her to experience a little of the world first. She’s very young, and while the police will be lucky to get her one day, we can’t help feeling she needs some more life experience first. She’s wanted to join the police since she was young.

Maybe she’ll be fine. Maybe we’re being over-protective. I guess we’ll find out.

She went out on her first “big night out” as a person “of age” this weekend. The manager of the bar where she works celebrated her birthday, so the entire bar staff went out to a club after closing time to help her celebrate. I stayed up “just in case”.

She got home at 4:30am. In one piece.

The remarkable thing? She had three hours sleep, then got up, and went back out to work at 9am to serve breakfasts in the pub. She then worked the evening shift through to closing time again.

I remember being able to do things like that when I was 18. I can’t any more. Just staying up the other night flattened me the next day. That curious sensation where your body overheats all day because you’ve screwed with it’s internal clock.


Our focus turns to our youngest daughter this week. As college winds down, several of her closest friends have gone their own way – on to different schools, or off to the world of work. She’s been very quiet – we both suspect a form of grieving is going on. Yes, they’re still keeping in touch via the wonders of social media, but they’re no longer at each other’s hip throughout the week, and never will be again.

I remember my parents telling me that my co-workers would become my world when I left college, and I didn’t believe them. They were right though.

And then once you have children, the parents of your children’s friends become your circle – and then the other parents in their school years. It’s funny how that happens. You also notice that friends without children form entirely different social circles.

We all find our own route, one way or another. The trick is letting your children find their own way without being too visible in the background, waiting to pick them up and dust them down.

I remember the first time my eldest daughter drank too much. As I walked home with her – helping to hold her up, she remarked “you’re always there when we need you most – how do you do that?” – I replied “we’re your parents. It’s our job”…


The Case of the Vanishing Daughter

When we got up yesterday morning, my other half knocked on our youngest daughter’s bedroom door and poked her head in to say “wake up”. She wasn’t moving under the bedcovers, so she stepped into the room and gave her a nudge. And that’s when she discovered the bedclothes arranged to look like a person in the bed.

Within minutes we had started scouting around her friends, and called the police. Next we informed the school, our workplaces, and started posting on social media. Then we hit the detective trail.

It’s worth noting – my youngest daughter has special needs. She has never bunked off school. She is perhaps the most compliant of the three sisters, and that’s what worried us most – who had talked her into doing this, and more importantly – was she ok? Her conception of risk is markedly less accurate than most.

We found her. We also went and fetched her.

I’m not going to tell the rest of the story on a public platform, because it probably crosses all kinds of privacy lines. The important thing is we found her.

Yesterday morning we realised how well thought of our family is in the local community. Literally everybody we know offered assistance and help – dropping whatever they were doing if they could. A small army was activated in minutes – from friends in the police force, to school staff, friends, and parents of our children’s friends. I spent the entire day responding to offers of help, updating people on what was going on, and then reversing everything just as quickly.

The police visited last night. Once you’ve started the ball rolling, it doesn’t just stop. They were brilliant. They spent an hour with us – explaining the procedure, filling out paperwork, and talking at some length with our daughter. I can’t thank them enough.

I joked with a friend at the end of the day that I might need a stiff drink. I’ve still not had it.


Making the best of it

Our youngest daughter had a quiet birthday at home.

After blowing balloons up late last night with my eldest daughter, and decorating the room suitably horrendously, we wrapped presents in brown paper and then went to bed.

This morning we watched as the newly crowned Miss 17 opened her presents, and included my other half via video call from the bedroom.

We went shopping for groceries together this morning – and returned with Miss 17’s choice for an evening birthday meal – “party food”.

In her mind, party food meant tortilla chips, dips, peppers, salad, sausage rolls, hummus, olives, cheese, and various other bits and pieces. We laid it all out across the table this evening and watched an entirely forgettable movie together (Tarzan – the one with one of the Skarsgard brothers in it).

The clock is now ticking towards midnight, and I’m watching another day of my “holiday” vanish. My other half is still isolating in the bedroom, having being hit by the COVID genetic reaction lottery quite badly.

Let’s hope tomorrow brings a better day.


Late O’Clock

I cooked dinner for the rest of the family this evening. Spaghetti Bolognese – one of the “make something quick that everybody will eat” meals that most families have up their sleeve at the end of a long week.

After dinner I joined some friends online for an hour, before heading into town to meet my middle daughter from work once again. Before leaving the house I looked in on my other half, and asked if she wanted to come – to perhaps get a drink while there. And that’s how we didn’t get home until after closing time.

While sipping our drink, and talking about the week, we laughed at the teenagers in the bar – most of which we had known at the various schools our girls attended over the years. We figured we had known more than a few of them since they were in infant school. One of them couldn’t take a shot at the pool-table without shouting the F word. I wondered how proud his parents might be.

Walking to and from the pub was bitterly cold. Earlier today it tried to snow. Only a few flakes, but still exciting given that we haven’t seen any serious amount of snowfall for years.

Tomorrow we’re headed to our youngest’s school for some sort of garden tour thing. Then on Sunday it’s rugby once again. I’m not going to stress too much about not getting a chance to rest – I have a week off coming up at the end of next week. The week before Easter.

That reminds me – I need to get some Easter eggs.


Mother’s Day

It was “Mother’s Day” in England today. Apparently the origins of mother’s day in the UK date back to an era when people worked in service (think Downton). It became a tradition for service staff to be allowed the day off to visit family each year. I only heard this story on the radio this morning – I’ve never heard it before.

We spent the entire day standing in the cold at a rugby tournament.

It’s been a tough year for our middle daughter. Rugby has always been “her” game, but she has always struggled to find a team where either she belonged, or where the club had any numbers of players in the same age range as her. This year has seen her as one of the few experienced players in her entire team – and while the rest have next year to progress, improve, and see success, she will not – she moves on to the senior team after facing defeat, after defeat, after defeat.

The surprising thing? She still loves playing, and looks forward to every training session, and every match.


The Beginning of a New Chapter

“Your daughter is 18, isn’t she?”

The following minutes saw a very fast fast interrogation of the rulebook – to determine if a nearly 18 year old could legally “play up”.

And that’s how we found ourselves standing on the touchline of another rugby pitch today in biting wind, freezing temperatures and driving rain, cheering her on.

At the end of the match her team-mates surrounded her, hugged her, raised her up, and posed for numerous photos together – as a team. In the clubhouse a little later they volunteered her as one of the players of the match, which entailed downing a pint of something alcoholic while the rest of the team and the supporters cheered uproariously.

What a difference from the teenage girl team she has played with in recent months – where rebellions against each other and their coaches have swept across supposedly secret WhatsApp groups. Finally a team – where everybody respects each other, supports each other, where the coach is listened to, where nobody talks back, and where an entire team has your back.

It was strange in a way – seeing her being accepted into the fold. Many of the senior players have known her since she was little – they have seen her grow – seen her mature as a player, and a person.

It felt like letting go. Not in a bad way. It felt like “we’ve done our job – now it’s up to her” – and there was a huge amount of confidence wrapped up in that.

As we left the rugby club to head home for showers, baths, hot food, and a quiet evening, smiling faces clapped shoulders, shook hands, and shouted after us. It feels like the beginning of a new chapter – both for our daughter, and for our family.