Our first family day on the beach this year proved to be something of a disaster. My eldest had just bought his first surf board and had been desperate to take it out but we just hadn’t been able to find the right day. Finally we found a day where, we were all at home, no one had any fixtures, the weather, whilst not sunny (ha ha), was also not foul and so we all piled into the car and headed to Gwithian. It was essential to me that we picked a beach with decent surf, never too busy and manned with lifeguards. As I don’t surf, despite numerous attempts, Thomas was going to have to go in the surfing area on his own, body boarders have to stay in a different section of the beach for obvious safety reasons. However, he’s only 13 and though he considers that fully grown, I don’t, so lifeguards or no surfing. He mucked around for about an hour coming to grips with his new board whilst we all body boarded nearby, after that he was exhausted and came to join us and Steve went back up the beach to read his book.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWeAtLr8bX4 Puff Daddy’s version
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbGKQ8YASCY – Nessun Dorma
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EK_LN3XEcnw Mambo No. 5
The next thing we did was go and meet Mary at the hospice. Now at this point the horrible reality of the situation became clear. These children and their families desperately need the hospice, it is a wonderful place and everything is done to make sure that all in the family are relaxed and taken care of but the truth of the matter is that this is a place for children with a limited life expectancy, generally they are not expected to live into their 20s and often they die much younger. It was a heart breaking tour and we left feeling very moved. However, we also knew beyond any doubt that we had chosen the right charity to support.
13 years ago my eldest son was born on mothering Sunday. As I was lying in the hospital bed coming to terms with motherhood the midwife came in and asked what I was getting for mother’s day. I replied that having just given birth and having been in labour for, what felt like, days, It was the last thing on my mind and that, anyway, my mother would understand. The midwife gave a nod towards the baby by my side and said “I wasn’t talking about your mother, I was talking about you..”
What did I want to be when I grew up? Being a barrister seemed to be on the cards for a while, it turned out that people would pay me a lot of money to be an argumentative, smart arse and my grandfather was a judge so it seemed like a logical choice. However, a marine archaeologist seemed more glamorous, it would be really cool to discover Atlantis and lots of sunken gold. I then moved on to travel and figured foreign correspondent / photographer was where my calling was. Just so long as I had regular running water and room service. So it came as a shock to me when I had my interview with my career’s advisor to discover that I was apparently best suited to being a hairdresser on a cruise liner. Anyone who has ever met me knows I don’t care too much for my own appearance let alone anyone else’s and as for making small talk with strangers that’s a no no, an even bigger no no is being stuck with a bunch of strangers that I can’t get away from so the cruise liner idea is my idea of hell.
Now, the same ridiculous questions are being posed to my eldest, the best I can say to him are that his GCSEs will not set him up for life, they will not shape the rest of his existence and that he is not to freak out if he chooses the wrong options. There’s just so much more pressure for him than there was for me, nowadays he has to get at least 30 A levels, they must all be A stars and he must then go to University and accrue more debt that he can contemplate, if his life is to mean anything. And he’s only 12.
Last year he was going to be an outdoors instructor. He’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie so I can see the appeal but he got it into his head that he can earn £40K a year doing that and I’m not so sure. Then he decided that being an architect was the way to go, however he thinks the Royal Albert Hall would look better with a smooth white render finish to “bring it up to date” so I hope for the sake of this country’s heritage that he doesn’t pursue this career path. His most recent decision has brought me out in a cold sweat. He wants to join the army, maybe the paras, maybe an officer. I am very calmly nodding and saying the right things whilst inwardly swearing that if I ever lay my hands on Bear Grylls it may be an encounter that he fails to survive.