Parenting moves on

I’ve written about this before, but parenting is changing more and more around here.  Possibly just in my head though.  One of the offspring moved out of his teens last weekend and milestones like that make you stop and reflect a bit.

It is an odd time of letting go at this stage of parenting, which I am very happy to do.  The weekend was great fun:  he came home and we had all the usual family celebrations of decorating the house with banners, a takeaway meal, opening presents together and a family lunch and board games.  Nothing flashy, just the usual traditions.

And then he went back to his own home.  We took down all the birthday decorations on his actual birthday, when traditionally they have stayed up for about a week.  It did feel a bit strange, but to be honest, it felt fine, just unusual.  I had a moment concerned that we were just eliminating him from our weekend as soon as he had left. Only a moment though.

I am proud and thrilled that he wanted to come and celebrate with us at all and that he wanted all the traditions which we have created over the years.  I am equally thrilled that he then wanted to go home and take his birthday with him, because it was his celebration, not mine. It is an odd time of loving two opposites, him being here and him being away, putting up the decorations and taking them down again.  I’m curious to know how this parenting thing continues to develop.

It’s what we’ll remember…

Rewinding to the weekend before illness struck – we belatedly celebrated a teen’s birthday.  We moved the celebration to the Bank Holiday weekend due to exams falling on and the day after the birthday itself.  

We decided to go on a mini-road trip to the beach.  The coastline of the UK is one of my favourite things about this country.  Yet I choose to live about as far from it as I possibly can. No, I don’t quite understand that either, but nevertheless I love Birmingham.  And we proved we can have a day on the beach whenever we want.  

As we were travelling in convoy as a group aged from pre-teens to their 70s and two dogs, we decided to make life relatively easy and headed to Weston-super-Mare, as most of Birmingham does on these occasions

The journeys were smooth and involved various stops for various types of refreshment. Walkie talkies were used in the cars to keep up a fairly sustained level of family banter and earphones were used by those who did not join in.  The dogs were just content to be with their beloved humans and heading somewhere.  I love their trust of just being in the moment – they know they will be well and cared for, but have no idea what they will be doing.

The day had been planned with a longish dog walk on a nearby dog-friendly beach to start, followed by brunch in the dog-friendly café and then heading into Weston itself, which has reduced access for dogs on its beach.

We arrived at the dog-friendly beach in rain.  Not too heavy, so we set off anyway.  We totally didn’t see the signs warning about mud, so one person’s shoes got very muddy. About half way up the beach the rain changed from light to that horizontal yet fine rain that you get at the sea which soaks you, but you sort of don’t notice you are soaked until you realise that moving your body is much harder with the extra water logging effect.  So, we decided to head to the café.  Which was not yet open. So, we walked a bit more and then headed to the café which was adorned with a large notice saying no dogs allowed.  So much for the plans.

Back in the cars soaking wet and coffee much needed, we started part two of the plan and headed into the main resort.  Car heaters helped to dry us off, but first thing was to buy some dry trousers for those really struggling.  

Of course, the rain then stopped and we spent a lovely afternoon of lunch and coffees and ice cream and more beach walks and time in the pier fun fair.  Cafes accepted, indeed welcomed dogs, so we ate well and those of us not on the pier (which does not take dogs) were able to hide out with papers and drinks very easily.

We drove home in lovely sunshine and found dinner in a beautiful pub in Worcestershire.  Weston turned out to be very dog-friendly and – possibly due to the weather – not very crowded.

Reflecting back the day to the birthday boy I apologised for the morning plan which had been so wrong in the end.  He laughed and explained that that is what we will remember, we will only ever tell stories about getting wet and muddy and the café not allowing dogs, not the pleasant afternoon.

Indeed, just over a week later, I finished this piece which I had started several days ago.  And even this close to the event, I couldn’t think of much more to say about the afternoon, Reading the paper over a peppermint tea will probably not remain in my memory for long.  The walk along a beach in weather that was beyond inclement really will.

Here’s to the things that go wrong to enable the family stories.