On cop­ing with the pas­sage of time

On cop­ing with the pas­sage of time

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Tues­day be­fore last, at the su­per­mar­ket, busy, busy, milk, crum­pets, ba­nanas, tick, tick, tick. That’s right, Hal­loween, I needed lol­lies: Milk­shakes and Min­ties and Mack­in­toshes. Then I saw the lit­tle mesh bags of choco­late coins it is our tra­di­tion to put in each other’s Christ­mas stock­ings, so I stood there in the mid­dle of the aisle, in the mid­dle of Oc­to­ber, try­ing to work out how many of us there’d be on Christ­mas morn­ing.

When I got home the dog hadn’t been walked and din­ner wasn’t started and the break­fast dishes were still on the ta­ble and while I was try­ing to find a place to hide the Hal­loween lol­lies and a dif­fer­ent place to hide the Christ­mas choco­lates, my son asked what we were do­ing for Guy Fawkes this year.

Sun­day af­ter­noon I was at Kmart; short-tem­pered, try­ing to find white stock­ings for my daugh­ter’s evil twin doll cos­tume. There was a dis­play of ca­nine Christ­mas treats. Can we, pleaded my daugh­ter. No, I snapped. The bloody dog doesn’t need a pam­per pack. And my daugh­ter ’s friend, said, “Christ­mas! Jeez, I thought it was only Hal­loween.” Mon­day morn­ing I stood in our garage, well it’s not re­ally a garage, it’s a car­port with a bro­ken roller door (on the to-do list: get a garage), and as the rain as­sailed me from the north and the east, I swayed on a bag of pot­ting mix, sweat­ing, swear­ing.

I was look­ing for the box la­belled Hal­loween be­cause my daugh­ter had told me be­fore she left for school she wanted to dec­o­rate the house when she got home, so could I get some spi­ders’ webs from the 1,2,3 shop.

I was sure I’d sal­vaged last year’s; la­bo­ri­ously dis­en­tan­gling them from the gate (they’re cheap as chips but I can’t abide the waste) when the lol­lies had run out to dis­suade any­more trick or treaters.

Tee­ter­ing on my makeshift stool, I un­earthed three out­door chairs, two so­lar show­ers, one Christ­mas tree. I sighed.

It was al­most that time again.

How are you, asked my friend? Oh you know, I said, over­whelmed, over­wrought. By what, she asked. I don’t know, I said. Ev­ery­thing? This time of year? By what I have to do, what I ex­pected I’d have done by now. You know, she said. I’m try­ing to ac­cept I’ll never get ev­ery­thing done. Oth­er­wise when am I go­ing to be happy, when I’m 60 and the kids have left and the house is per­fect be­cause it’s empty?

How are you, asked my friend? Swamped, I said. Like I can’t cope. Like I need to get on top of things. I’ve been feel­ing the same, she said. I keep think­ing when the friends we’ve had stay­ing are gone; when all these events we’ve got com­ing up are over, that then I’ll be able to re­lax.

But this is it, isn’t it? This is life. You’ve got to en­joy it as it’s hap­pen­ing.

P.S. Sorry D, I know you called, con­cerned you de­tected a grumpy tone in my words of late, and I vowed I would write a light lit­tle missive this week, just for you, but then ad­vent cal­en­dars and net­ball prize­giv­ings and spooky cup­cakes en­gulfed me.

FOL­LOW­ING ON

You re­sponded to last week’s mus­ings on par­ent­ing through ado­les­cence with sym­pa­thy, dis­may, and ad­vice, lots of ad­vice.

Belinda: “What I find works is be­ing in­volved in their mu­sic but not in a cringey way. Put some Post Malone or The Weeknd on the stereo and act like you’re not slightly in­ter­ested and see if you get a re­ac­tion. Food talks as well, of­fer­ing to feed mates: ham and cheese toasties, pop­corn. Show­ing them funny In­sta posts ... You sort of have to get down to their level.”

Anna: This is a re­ally ex­cit­ing time, when your boy be­comes the man you will have in your life, hope­fully, un­til you are a very old woman. This is the spring of his life. So ad­mire his growth, ask for a hug, have chats with­out look­ing di­rectly at one an­other when do­ing the dishes, driv­ing places. Dis­cuss rules and pa­ram­e­ters; ask him his views on things, in­clud­ing how you look. How else will he learn to pay a com­pli­ment?”

John: “Your chil­dren ex­pect: the fridge will re­main fully stocked; they can use, bor­row, and take any­thing of yours with­out ask­ing; to be loved un­con­di­tion­ally no mat­ter what; but never ever want you to be their mate. That just em­bar­rasses them. It can make for some lonely times, but when they show their love and ap­pre­ci­a­tion I have found noth­ing bet­ter in life.”

While I was try­ing to find a place to hide the Hal­loween lol­lies and a dif­fer­ent place to hide the Christ­mas choco­lates, my son asked what we were do­ing for Guy Fawkes this year.

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