FOUR FINGERS AND THIRTEEN TOES – RITES OF PASSAGE
There are few things that direct the mind to the march of time than the arrival of a new baby.
I can almost hear the gossip now … “She kept that quiet, and fancy at her age!”
Well, I’m pleased to say it’s not me, but Steve’s niece who gave birth to a healthy baby boy a couple of weeks ago. Baby Luke heralded the start of a new generation in our family, a mantle that James has been proud to hold for almost as long as he could talk.
When the news came, I suppose I was just a little melancholy at the memory of all those rows of baby clothes that lined the wardrobe, the boxes of disposable nappies that filled the boot of the car on each shopping trip, and the thought of all those lovely little semi-spoonerisms that kids utter with such ease.
Of course like most parents, we wished we had taken the time to write them all down, if only to cause major embarrassment at significant times of teenage and young adolescent life. But alas, we will have to rely on memory to “eke” just a small amount of fun from those happenings and events that cause such great merriment to those of us now in the middle-age and older generation.
Rites of passage are a funny thing. They can create great pride, cause mayhem or make you realise how time flies.
At around about the time that young Luke made his entrance to the world, we received a letter advising that – as a pending school leaver – James would need a national insurance number. OMG (!!) it suddenly dawned on me that my once dependent child was soon to be old enough to start contributing to the household budget that he had single handedly sent through the ozone layer; and this had been achieved by him consuming vast amounts of food, cost us inordinate amounts in sports club subscriptions and polishing off enough trainers to provide an emerging economic nation with sufficient footwear to get them through at least three Olympic games!
Whilst sitting at the dinner table that evening, I realised that James’ Saturday afternoons out with mates, were slightly alcohol filled forays into early adolescence and a little extra use of his Dad’s aftershave was designed to impress the opposite sex. Everything I had done (not using my Dad’s aftershave I hasten to add!) to a greater or lesser extent over ?!!@?!! years ago, my son was now doing and enjoying every moment.
A few days later, after I had sort of regained my composure over this rite of passage, I was slapped in the face with another. The last official school day was over, and a triumphant return from full time education was marked with the school polo shirt signed by all manner of friends and acquaintances – and there were even some teacher’s signatures sending wishes of good luck for the future.
Now, I must confess I cried my eyes out when the primary school polo shirt came home in much the same fashion five years ago, but to see “smiley faces” replaced by “Luv U :)” next to the names of kids I could remember on the first day at school was just too much to bear.
So the polo shirt got lovingly parcelled up and placed with all the other childhood memorabilia and then it was onto the next rite of passage … Preparation for the school prom.
Having bawled my eyes out at the signed polo shirt, I can tell you that the Gents outfitters to which we went to acquire the dinner suit resembled the swimming pool at our local leisure centre by the time we left the shop. The whole experience was made all the more emotional by the sound of the Alison Moyet track “All cried out” blaring from the HMV store next door.
That left me wondering whether I could cope with the next rite of passage in the form of the holiday “with my mates”. A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation about this very subject with a few of my “girly” friends, and was reassured when told, that “so long as Mum and Dad are paying, the kids will still want to come away with you”. But hopefully, I will not have to consider this rite for at least another year.
I could go on and on about these rites which keep cropping up and how I will cope with them, but I won’t. Instead, I shall take this opportunity to remind Steve that theatre tickets, romantic weekends and meals out will now be the order of the day.
So I guess that MY rite of passage has been from “tummy” mummy (and yes, you did read it correctly!) to proud Mum and hopefully in the future (and I sincerely hope the more distant future) to “Nana”.
For the time being I shall have to practice at that latter role with young Luke – ranking behind his Grandma and Great-grandma of course… But hey, the attraction of being transported around on the back of a large dodgem car, by his rather eccentric Great Aunty Rosie, will I hope be just as attractive to the newest generation of the family, as it has been to James and all of his friends.
We are soon off to meet Luke for the first time and I hope that his Mum and Dad have as much fun at parenthood as Steve and I have been fortunate enough to enjoy. It’s not over by a long way, but I am reminded of a saying that my Mum told me many years ago “Parents hold their children’s hands for a while and their hearts forever.”
How true that is.