[Apologies for the repeat post and the lack of Claire instalment in the first one: see below!]
I got told off by a random stranger today. The worst part was it was entirely justified. Don’t you hate that? He’d paid for his daughter to go on one of these £1 rides you get in supermarkets, the same one my kids had just been on and my son had demanded “more more”. The ride has three seats so, without thinking, I whisked Aaron over and plonked him on one of the spare seats.
I’d never do that normally without asking the person whose pound has paid for the ride (even though I love it when people come and let their kids ride for free on my pound. The more the merrier).
When it had finished the Dad turned on me and told me how rude I was. I got defensive, lord knows why, because he was absolutely right. I apologised but it was too late, I’d lost some goodwill and was left feeling wretched for the rest of the day.
The irony of course is that I’m trying to teach my daughter not to be so sensitive to being told off. If I so much as ask her to sit still at the table too often she runs off sobbing (particularly if she knows she’s in the wrong.) How can I teach her not to take things to heart so much when I’m even worse?
I tell you, if I had possessed any tiny notion of how hard this parenting lark would be I would have remained single and celibate for the rest of my days. And here’s me, planning on changing Claire’s mind from being a child-dreader to someone who wants to be a parent. Don’t do it Claire, keep your independence and your sanity! 🙂
As I wrote this, a notification popped up in my Facebook account that my sister had shared a blog post: 10 Facts on Motherhood. The post is so spot on relevant to my day that I had to share it.
Apologies to anyone who got this post without the Claire attachment: I went to the coffee shop after dropping off the kids to finish off the post but couldn’t get on the internet. I have resubmitted the post with the Claire section included. I knew that auto-schedule was going to bite me one day.
“Hey Claire, how’s it going?”
“Kim, great to hear from you.” Claire settled into the corner of the faded sofa, ready for a long chat with her oldest friend.
“How is your Have Helly Hansens Will Travel life going?” Her voice sparkled like sunlight on the sea. “When did you last shave your legs?”
Claire’s shout of laughter caused a couple fiercely focused on their Scrabble game to look up momentarily. She smiled apologetically at them and laughed again more quietly. “This morning, actually. Our room is en-suite and Josh left as soon as we checked in to go stomp his teenage-angst out on the hills.”
There was a loaded pause before Kim shrieked down the phone. “Oh. My. God. Who is Josh, why are you sharing a room, where are you staying? Teenage angst? Have you shacked up with a younger man? En-suite? Don’t tell me you’ve given up already and checked into a hotel. You’ve only been gone a week. Tell me, tell me!”
Claire put the phone back to her ear as Kim finished talking and spoke thoughtfully. “Has it really only been a week?” She tried to count back to her arrival in Berwick but realised she wasn’t completely sure what day of the week it was. “Is it Friday today?”
“No, it’s Saturday, and you’re evading the question.”
“Which one?” Claire chuckled.
“All of them.”
Claire paused, letting her friend stew in her conjecture a little while longer before letting out a giggle. “Your ability to jump to the furthest conclusion is astounding. I’m staying at Ninebanks, a lovely hostel somewhere between Newcastle and Carlisle. Josh is an Aussie guy I met in the Kielder youth hostel who is travelling along with me for a while because I have a car. He is probably my age but is currently acting like he’s twelve. It appears most YHA hostel rooms are en-suite and has it really only been a week? It feels like a month.”
“Phew, thanks for the update. You had me worried. So, are you enjoying it then? You sound very relaxed, more than I’ve heard you sound for a long time.”
Claire was surprised at Kim’s observation. I don’t feel very relaxed. My boss is trying to hound me out, I’m sharing bunk-beds with a bloke I met two days ago and Michael keeps dangling himself tantalisingly in reach like a chilled bottle of bubbly.
She looked around the small hostel lounge, taking in the couple near the wood-burner still grappling with unknown seven-letter words. The only people who knew where she was were Josh and now Kim. It was, she decided, quite a nice feeling.
“I guess I am pretty chilled. The hardest part is deciding what to do every day. I try to have a plan but I keep getting scuppered by events outside my control. Some of the hostels aren’t open in the winter and now it turns out the lead mine isn’t either.”
“Lead mine? Seriously? Surely a diamond mine is more your style?”
“Last time I checked there weren’t too many diamond mines in Northumberland. I am working you know Kim. I need Blog Fodder every day. There are only so many things you can say about the floral duvet covers and the colour of the en-suite tiles. I’ll be damned if I’m going to shadow Josh in his current mood. Besides, I’m tired of hiking.”
“You’ve been hiking? Your idea of exercise is lifting a G&T to your lips and then working off the calories in an insane spinning class.”
“I love you too Kim.” For some reason the words, despite their truth, made Claire feel low.
“Sorry hun I wasn’t trying to be mean. I thought you prided yourself on your indoors lifestyle?”
Claire shuffled in her seat and pondered why Kim’s words made her defensive. Who am I trying to fool? Of course she’s right, I don’t fit in this world. I don’t want to fit in this world.
“Ignore me. My old life feels a long way away.” She described what she could see to her friend, trying to share some of the atmosphere of the hostel.
“It sounds great. Maybe Jeff and I should come and meet you at one of your stops. It’s about the only holiday we’ll be able to afford anytime soon.”
Claire paused as she tried to imagine Kim and Jeff in her new environment. It felt odd considering the merging of worlds, although not as strange as the idea of one of her work colleagues appearing amid all the faded furniture.
Lucky none of them would be seen dead here.
“Sure, why not. There aren’t many hostels near Cambridge but when I’m a bit further south we can see when you’re free. Anyway, tell me about Puck. How’s it all going?”
Claire settled deeper into the sofa and listened to Kim’s tales of her life treading the boards. She realised it was the first time in ages they had gossiped on the phone. Usually she was too busy working or socialising or sleeping to catch up with friends. Chuckling at Kim’s anecdotes Claire rested her head on a cushion and thought maybe she could get used to her new life.