Friday, 18 August 2017

Summer holidays and teenagers

So we're over halfway through, and how's it going for you? How's the weather been? (We've actually had a tiny bit of sunshine this week in York.) Are the tensions in your house at Trump-Kim levels yet or are they still relievable by wine? Yesterday my daughter asked me when I was going to stop controlling her life and let her take charge instead. This was a response to me inviting her to go to the ice cream boat over the river as a treat. She wanted to stay at home and play with her magnets instead. You just can't feckin' win, can you?

She is harder to please than ever this summer. We've done some lovely things. We've been to some shows at the Great Yorkshire Fringe and to see Robin Hood at York Theatre Royal. We've been to Harlow Carr, Newby Hall and the wonderful York Maze, and we went to stay with my dad in Grasmere for a few days, where we met up with friends and played Swallows and Amazons at Blackwell House in the pouring rain. We've done campfire cooking and raced around Goddards. But during it all there was so much moaning! (Particularly when I managed to wreck her bread dough in the campfire...) And I haven't even made her go on any country walks!

The Giant's Loo Roll
(the daughter was bribed with a chocolate pancake not to scowl in this picture)

The Scarecrow's Wedding

Genuine tents...

..and genuine boats from the Swallows And Amazons film at Blackwell House, Bowness

The dissatisfaction is spreading beyond home. This week is she is attending Kings Camp, a sports activity week held at the Mount School. It's a lot of fun, but every day she comes out overly focused on the negative - that she hasn't won star of the day, that she had to wear a beginners red cap in her swimming session despite the 25 metres badge she has sewn on to her costume, for which she was teased, that she scraped her knee during a treasure hunt, that the timetable wasn't announced in strict order at the start of the day, that they didn't go outside enough, that they went outside too much... Bah! It's partly tiredness, hence me trying to revive her with ice cream. But give the poor guys a break!

It's a foresight of what the teenage years may hold, assuming Donald Trump, Kim Jong-Un, Isis in a van, and a piece of plastic fork let any of us live that long. Did so many things cause my parents sleepless nights when I was little? Plastic forks didn't of course, because my parents weren't that stupid, but when I was my daughter's age Thatcher had just come to power, nuclear war between Russia and America definitely seemed a possibility, and then Argentina invaded the Falklands. But was it this bad? With Brexit, that narcissistic, volatile moron tweeting unpredictable nonsense from the White House, a fat kid in North Korea playing games and people being run over on the streets of Europe, I feel like I am living in a nightmare that can only get worse. My mood certainly can't be helping my daughter's negativity, even though I try not to mention any of it to her. Let her have her innocence for as long as it can last. But when will something good happen? Even The Last Leg can't lift my spirits about the madness of the world any more.

Love to you, Barcelona

Anyway, teenagers. Yeah. There's a bunch of them living in the park this summer. Our lovely park, which has just lost its park keeper thanks to the latest wave of austerity cuts (my prediction in a previous blog post came true). Now it's up to volunteers to maintain its flower beds and keep it looking lovely. Which was hard enough with its flock of geese shitting over its lawns and pathways, and has now been made even harder by these teenagers' inability to use a litter bin. Oh, such bravado they show as they do their wheelies down our street and around the park stage, which only a few weeks ago was used to put on an opera. Such colourful language as they abuse each other and passers by. Such profits the corner shop must be making as they purchase their bottles of Rubicon Spring and packets of Moam. And such a mess they hurl on to the grass without a moment's thought. There's no dealing with them; they are a wall of hormones who just want to laugh at adults requesting a little respect out of them for their surroundings. Needless to say, me politely requesting them to stop ripping leaves off my neighbour's bushes did not go down well the other day.

Yes, I did pick all this up afterwards

My daughter chipped a little off their cool though. The boys invaded the zip wire queue in the play area, pushing in front of her, where she had been standing watching some friends. "We're going next!" they boomed, sneering at her. "That's OK, I don't want a go anyway because I don't like it," replied my daughter. "Ew, what are you, six?" they snorted. "Yes. But I'm nearly seven!" answered the girl, oblivious to what they were inferring. She's darn tall for her age.

We have a teenager coming to stay in our house next week actually. Hopefully he can sort the brats in the park out with some good Dutch manners. We are doing a house swap with a friend in Holland, a cheap and convenient way of being able to go abroad in August. So I am spending this week frantically trying to tidy up and looking at everything in the house that doesn't quite work properly, thinking "My goodness, how have we put up with this for ten years?" Well, mostly because one of us in this marriage is very laidback. He has to be, of course, else he wouldn't cope with me being the other half. But as a consequence his attitude to repairs is somewhat slack. He'll just work out a way of tolerating whatever has gone wrong. Deciding he prefers showers a bit on the cool side, for example. Deciding that the steam function on an iron isn't necessary if you just squirt a bit of water on your shirts instead. Not minding water spraying in his eye from a pipe because really it's quite refreshing after a long run. That sort of thing.*** Anyway, I'm just hoping I've managed to patch the place up enough to stop it falling down before the end of the month, so that our friends have a peaceful and harmonious visit, despite bringing a teenager.

So yes, ten whole years we've lived here in our crazy house. I think that's the longest I've lived anywhere continuously in my life. Cracks are still appearing in the walls. I panic about subsidence, my husband merely decides they add character. Our daughter could definitely be a little bit more like her daddy on some things.

Only 19 more days til the start of term.

*** My husband would just like me to point out that while the girl and I were in Grasmere he painted four shelves that have been bare MDF for nearly as many years. It seems the trick to make him get round to doing DIY jobs is to go away without him...

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