Sunday, 27 January 2008

Still learning, still smiling

With the best part of a recent mid-life crisis firmly consigned to 2007, I'm in a much better frame of mind these days. One ages, considers, panics, gets a whacky new haircut, and, basically, presses on - well, that's what I've decided to do anyway... took me a while to work it out though.

My mum was mainly responsible for the turnaround. On hearing of my trials she was silent, did not say a word, but dispatched three large boxes containing several hundred-weight of books, and quite a bit of chocolate. Bless her. I guessed it was a hasty reaction on her part as she had obviously not read all the blurbs, and some of the books were murderous thrillers... Surprising that, as she and I are much the same - gentle empathetic sort of people who like thought-provoking, amusing kind of books... Naturally I was too polite to mention it, and of course very grateful. It was just the right distraction.

Rather like the butterfly flapping its wings in the jungle that causes a hurricane elsewhere, so her parcels of escapism triggered off a change in old routines, a fresh outlook and - post chocolate consumption - the need to attend er, body sculpting exercise classes. Where I found a new friend who offered me some gardening work. Great fun, paying real money, result! And after the retraining at college is complete, something right is bound to come along, eventually.

I am still reading all those books, with pleasure. This afternoon, at the kitchen table, I am reading again, eyes glued to the page, hardly breathing, when middle son drops in beside me, rifling through his homework sheets. I patted his hand encouragingly without taking my eyes off the page. Yes, a bit selfish of me, I know. From a distance I hear him chortle "18 divided by six - don't be ridiculous..." and after a bit I murmur "Times Tables, think again...".

Over by the cooker, eldest son mocks "Heh- huh THREE TIMES SIX IS EIGHTEEN! You're useless" Then he remodulates his voice to boy-with-manners mode "Can I cook a snack Mum? Please?"

"Yep", I say. He hums with contentment lining up his spice jars and reading aloud from a cookery book. I turn a page. The youngest arrives on his scooter, happy and busy, he parks up over by the compoodah and checks straight into the CBeebies website, singing Jingle Bells, as you do when you're small...

"Oh no, look what he's done now MUM!!" says middle son after a bit, he who is always looking away from the job in hand (he gets that from me I fear). I focus briefly on the compoodah, it's in Dutch, and the youngest is now singing a new song: "I could be brown I could be blue"... "Hmm, don't worry, he always does that, we can change it later" I move my head carefully back to the page, without blinking.

"Right, Robin Hood: first question - What is Sherwood?" reads middle son in an over-loud voice. I wait knowing full well he's been watching the 'Robin of Sherwood' repeats with relish each week. Silence - so I then say "what do you think it is?" There is a long pause before he retorts - "I don't know!, that's why I'm asking you, it's your job to help me, not to sit there reading Harry Potter all day".

I am mildly offended.

"And I could look on Google if he hadn't just broken it" he adds, staring at his beloved three year-old brother who is now also making whoopee in system preferences, clicking away happily..."Don't you care about us Mother!"

I finish a sentence first then turn. His face is an inch from my own, and rather blurred. "Son" I say, "caring for you is not controlling you and your thoughts, you are a free agent, licensed to do your own homework... and actually I can't see very well with you stuck there, so back off, please!" For a short time we sit side by side, in pained silence. A strong smell of curry stuff rises and I note the compoodah screen is having a strange experience - it's glaring black and white and flashing... Never mind, I think hopefully, no harm done, it's his own account, isn't it??... I look down at the homework sheet and say quietly - "There is still no 't' in such by the way...".

"I knew that Mum! I was testing you, see if you'd notice -". We peep at each other and start giggling, "sorry - Well, can I look on Google now then?"

Remembering what happened when he googled his Christmas list and that regrettable 'someone's silly bum' picture appeared, I say "How about reading books instead, that might help more -" and I wave at the shelves "- find out facts by looking them up and checking: books, maps, it's all there -".

"OK, if you help me" he says eagerly and slips down to the bottom shelf from where he starts throwing heavy tomes on to the table in earnest...

We are interrupted just then by a boom from the stove, with urgent sizzling. I drop Harry P and get over there with speed, a white cloud of hot Flora vapour passing around my head.

"Are you OK?" I look for eldest. He is engulfed in the fumes, but gently sliding the smoking frying pan off the heat, his eyes giant but composure intact. He dampens a tea towel wordlessly then stands back ready to use it. "Well handled son, this'll be fine in a minute."

"The pan was too hot" he says, "there was nothing about that in the book!"

"Heh-Huh you nearly blew up the kitchen, ummmmm!" taunts middle son.

"Sherwood is a forest" snaps his brother, eyes flashing, "F-O-R-E-S-T spells - *******!!!"

"Can I cwick dis?" interrupts the smallest, pointing at something unknown on the computer....

33 comments:

laurie said...

ah so nice to have you back.
and buried in books, sons, and chocolate....

david mcmahon said...

Wonderful post, and I lilke the sound of your Mum. Anyone who despatches three cartons of books to a loved one gets my vote!!

The Rotten Correspondent said...

It's lovely to hear from you again. Your house sounds much like mine.

Jenera said...

As hectic as it seems you can feel the love for your kids in the words.

I'm afraid my house will be like this as our family grows.

By the way, I found you through David's site

Jenera
Just Me

merry weather said...

Hi Laurie - good to read you again too :)

Thanks David, that's nice, yours is a great blog with lots of interesting links, glad to have found it!

Hello RC - Sure - fraught but fun :)

Hi Jenera - Thanks for visiting and I like your blog too!

I Beatrice said...

Well goodness me - there was I, emailing you this morning, and all the while you'd snuck in and posted a new piece of your own!

And such a lovely, happy, family-oriented one too. I can see that life has taken a turn for the better, and am so pleased for you. And what delightful boys you have, cooking away while Mummy reads.... Never mind that one of them nearly burnt the kitchen down - it was the thought that counted!

Welcome backX

PS I have just finished a wonderful, lyrical food-and-Italy-filled book called "The Lady in the Palazzo" by Marlena de Blasi. If you ever get through the pile your mother sent you, do look for it. Also her "Thousand Days in Venice" and "Thousand Days in Tuscany".

Part novels, part cookery books, part travel guides ....they're like no other books I've ever read. And have a recipe for tempura'ed zucchini flowers (and nasturtium flowers and celery leaves) that is simply to die for!

Misty Dawn said...

Your mom sounds wonderful. This post is great - you wrote it wonderfully - hilarious!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Mum's are very special people aren't they. Nice to see you back.

Crystal xx

lady thinker said...

Merry - what a surprse - am showing a friend on her pc how to blg and leave cooments etc etc and so surprised ti find you are active once more - will save reading this post till i back home again on my own machine. Hugs from Big sis penny.

merry weather said...

Hello Bea - How nice to see you again too :) - I remember that you love Italy, those books do sound very interesting and must be quite an escape in this cold wet weather!

Shall make a note of them ready for next trip to the library - And yes, that does sound a delicate and tempting dish. You must have tried it already, I guess...mm!



Hi Misty - thank you! Nice of you to call - and what a sweet dog you have.



Hello Crystal - good to see you :) shall look forward to catching up on your blog asap!



Lady T - ah, (hugs back!) I have missed you and your fun too big sis. Shall twiddle my thumbs till you return!!... (Have you got that quiz going yet btw?)

lady thinker said...

Merryw - I'm here again to say wonderful post.

It took me a while to work out what the compoodah is (I thought it was some kind of kitchen worksurface composting crock, which made you sound like a very middle class, welly wearing , lets save the planet kind of woman). If i'm big sis - then why has not your Mum despatched a box of books my way for the days that I struggle with coming to terms with late middleaged, menopausal, warm moments? I'm jealous. She sounds wonderful.

Re the quiz - sorry can't find it on that website again - I was careless with the cutting and pasting of the HTML code and do not have the techie savvy as to know how to redo it properly.I know that this will be a dissapointment for you to find out that I'm not half as clever as I make out to be.

merry weather said...

Haha - thank you - she is lovely, one of the best and she would send you a parcel you know, well, if she ever read my blog that is :) Sorry to hear about the warm moments - wretched hormones huh.

Hey, maybe you could have an IQ quiz... but then again, perhaps it's better not to go public!!

wife in the north said...

You're back. Huzzah.

merry weather said...

-grins-

Thanks and congrats on delivering the book!!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

I see you have been as absent as I have been! Glad to see you back and recovering from your mid life crisis! Lovely gentle and witty posts as usual. How's the job hunting? Fruitful I hope. x

merry weather said...

Hi MOB - I'm retraining actually, things are looking good thanks :)

Winchester whisperer said...

Love Harry Potter

lady thinker said...

If you are not too busy working there is an award for you over on :
http://sidmouth-town.blogspot.com/2008/02/bafta-awards.html

the mother of this lot said...

I have no idea how I got here. I would love to be able to say that your house does not sound remotely like mine...but then, I'm not a liar.

Livvy U. said...

I love the re-invention bit, I love that. I think we should all do that more often. I've been away down with the fairies for a while, too, it happens, life gets in between, but blogging still holds that late-night allure.
Happy to come and read again.
Livvy

merry weather said...

Hello WW - Like your style!

Thanks LT - I've just been - what a compliment!xx

I'm pleased you did drop in Mother of this lot - Great blog you have

Livvy - hi, good to see you again too. Love the idea of being away with the fairies - haha, beautifully put :)

Maggie May said...

Enjoyed your blog! Your Mum sounds wonderful.I'm new here but glad you are back & feeling better.

Cathy said...

Good to see you back. A few 'old friends' have re-emerged this week!

merry weather said...

Nice to meet you too Maggie! And thanks :)

Hi Cathy - think it's the hint of spring...

lynn said...

Touching account, there!

merry weather said...

Looking forward to reading more of your novel Lynn!

aims said...

Here I am - wandering around - and I have this thought - 'I wonder if Merry Weather has posted lately'...and ta da!!

So great to hear from you again. So great that you feel you can post whenever you just feel like it too....

Don't worry about us wanting to hear from you - just think about what is your need...not ours.

Wonderful post btw (I knew I wanted to tell you something else!)

Marianne said...

I've been away for a while too, but finding this rather disorientating. Times, but no dates. Is this a recent post? How much time elapsed between Saturday and Sunday? When is Monday?

Whatever, good to see you again. HOpe there will be more soon.

merry weather said...

Hello Aims - those are very kind words! Thank you for wandering in, shall drop by your place for a good read soon :)

Hi Marianne - you're back! Well, call it a mid-life thing, or a 2 posts in 6 months thing, whatever! It was refreshing to move out of time in at least one aspect of life...

Swearing Mother said...

All OK Merry? Haven't been over for a while.

Iota said...

You're back, you're back. Hurray! If you feel that you don't want to commit so much time to blogging, but find you just can't quite bear to give up totally, you could always just shift down a gear and keep posting, but not so often. It's called 'doing an Iota' I believe.

What are you retraining as?

Maggie May said...

Hope everything is O K with you now. I noticed you visited my blog fairly recently. Always glad to see ya!

merry weather said...

Jane, Iota and Maggie - nice to see you - shall write a new post soon!