My youngest turns twelve on Friday. You may recall her thirteen-year-old sister had a rather eventful (to say the least) disco for hers. But Abby, tomboy as she is, isn't much into disco's. I asked her if she might like to go to the cinema with a couple of her friends, and perhaps go on for a meal after?
She thought about this for a minute. "You know, what I would really like is for us all to have a special family meal together. Can I pick what we have?"
(Awww, how lovely! It warmed the cockles of my heart she preferred to celebrate with us.)
"Sure, that would be great," I said, "Where do you want to go?"
"Oh no, I want you to cook it, can I have my favourite?"
Gosh, what a treasure this kid is, I'm now grinning from ear to ear. "Course you can, what do you want?"
"Your leek and potato soup, mmmn, it's creamy - and a big squishy chocolate cake, for afterwards!"
Sometimes I can't believe how sweet this kid is. She continues unloading the dish-washer whilst I put the groceries away.
"I don't think I'll get a dish-washer when I leave home.."
"Well, you probably won't need one if it is only you."
She stops, brows furrowed. "No, I'll be sharing with Beccy and Matt."
Such a statement of fact, she has it all worked out. I realise she is serious, she truly believes she and her older Sib's will automatically set up house together when they fly the nest. Having no university on the island, I have schooled them from an early age to expect to move out at eighteen. (Besides, I have an ulterior motive, I already know of far too many adult children refusing to leave the coop. Once they are eased out, I have vague hopes their next return will be for visits only..)
"Well, um, sweetie, Matt and Bec - they might not live in the same town, you see, it depends where they end up."
But where will they live?"
"What do you mean?"
"We're all going to live in the flat in London, where else can we go?"
I am trying hard not to laugh now. Sheesh, she really does have it all worked out. Because hubby lives half his time there, we keep a small two-bed flat in Putney, complete with lodger to help meet with the cost. It will have to be sold when he retires, there is no way we will afford to keep it up.
It's suddenly dawning on me I may not be preparing my kids as well as I'd hoped.
Like when Matt volunteered to help push the extra trolley round for the Christmas food shop, at the rate he was flinging the stuff in, I truly believe he thought all this gear was up for free. Mortally offended he was, when I made him turf it all back again. The guy eats for Britain, I swear he has hollow legs, where else can he possibly store it all? Student life is going to be such a rude awakening.
Take when he had his Epiphany Student/Tutor dinner the other week, it never even so much as crossed his mind we wouldn't cough up for a new outfit. one he'll likely never wear again.
(And he was right too, wasn't he?)
As for Beccy, the only time she tells me she loves me is when she is after fleecing me for some cash. She was mortified to have had her monthly allowance sliced in half until her attitude at school bucks up. She then had the mistaken idea this should also half the amount of any weekly chores she is allocated - God loves a trier, eh?
All the kids have their monthly pocket-money paid directly into their bank account, in efforts to encourage them to learn a little budgeting. Once it is spent, it is gone. It's gradually starting to sink in. I live in hope.
But this little princess here of mine seems to be growing a sense of entitlement, believing as she does that want equals need. Rectifying it is putting a severe strain on our relationship as of late. (Sigh.)
The only one seemingly oblivious to materialistic craving seems to be our Sweet Sam (although it needs to be said, in fairness, our little Abby does follow close behind) - we know and expect to make provision for Sam's future, sadly, that is a given. But he doesn't give a hoot about designer clothes, not for him any personal lavish expenditures. It's the time spent one on one that lights a smile to his face, that such as feeding the ducks, or a simple trip to watch the ferry leave port.
Sometimes I think he is the wisest one amongst us.
I have a sinking feeling that these other babes of mine have a harsh reality a-coming soon. It's going to be a rude awakening to enter the real world. I'm gonna' need to bore them with endless tales of my early penury, groom them to expect a wee bit of hardship ahead.
There has to be a financial cut-off at some point, surely? (Says me, note of hysteria to my voice.) Hate me for it as they will, and love them as I do, I have no intention of enabling them to remain tied forever as adults to our financial apron-strings. Outside of being plain wrong, the road to self worth and high esteem is to earn their own way in the world, not to rely on hand-outs from us, their parents, to get by.
I predict stormy weather ahead!