Two weekends ago the grown-ups in our household went away, leaving the teenager in charge of himself and with prior permission to have a few friends sleep over (people that we knew).
It was with some trepidation that we bade goodbye and drove off. Last time we left town without him we came home to a hole in our precious ‘tango strawberry’ couch (according to the brochure).
We learnt over the ensuing days that the hole was caused by an experiment to do with matches. Hmmm. So the accident could have been much, much worse given the flammable nature of the piece. He complicated matters by stuffing the hole with a cut out piece from his red bed sheets; hence two casualties instead of one.
We hope he learnt his lesson after having to pay for a replacement sofa cover with his own money and being grounded for a fortnight. The recent trip was a test to see if this was the case.
In another environment we may not be so trusting. But where we live we are surrounded by thirty one other ‘villas’ ie one level apartments on the ground joined by garages. Hence a multitude of prying eyes await us when we open the front door, the majority of whom are retirees with a lot of time on their hands. Getting into the car is akin to running the gauntlet – who will be coming round the corner ready for a chat? It usually happens when we are in a hurry to go somewhere.
The only feedback we received this time round from our reliable spies was the smell of bacon and eggs cooking on Sunday morning and the removal of twelve pizza boxes at some stage of the weekend to our communal rubbish area at the top of the drive.
There was evidence of some activity indoors too: the contents of the pantry had been ransacked. Even the walnuts we bought for a biscotti recipe had been consumed. Our son ended up sleeping on our bed – for the first time since he was little – as there was no room for him elsewhere in the house. And the place was impeccably clean; in fact in a far better state than when we left (he reckoned it took him four hours).
Suprisingly the beer bottles in the garage fridge were still standing up as straight as soldiers. None were missing.
These weekends away have made me think of the passing of time. The various stages of parenthood are a reminder of this elusive commodity that we try to grapple and control.
Said teenager now towers over me in his size 12 shoes. I came across some of his quotations from a seemingly long time ago in one of my journals recently:
I don’t think I will kiss you Grandpa because you have too many whiskers.
Dad, I got the haircups.
Dad when you grow up what do you want to be? (perhaps my favourite!)
Mum can we drive there because I don’t have my cape so I can’t fly.
Me (putting him to bed): Mum loves her little boy. Him: I’m not your little boy, I’m a big boy. I’m the greatest hero. I’m Batman (I stopped calling him a little boy from then on)
I know why Dad has olive skin. He eats too many olives (pronounced ‘olibs’)
That table was in the way and bumped into me.
Isaac Biscuits (ANZAC biscuits)
I’m not L…. I’m Spiderman (he’d just had his face painted after his favourite action hero at a shopping centre. He drew quite a crowd with his fervent announcement and accompanying show of skills)
Mum when am I going to get a big willy like Dad?
All fond memories.