Everything in our garden is organic by default, we're lazy gardeners and largely neglect any produce until ripe for the harvest.
Our strawberries are yielding a bumper crop this year. Each morning the kids happily trip down to the patch, to pick themselves a juicy bowl-full to have with breakfast. The shop-bought "forced" varieties are virtually tasteless compared to these home-grown beauties.. the simple truth is some things are well worth the waiting for, that sweetness and zing of a garden ripened fruit can never be purchased in-store.
It's so easy to take the good things in life for granted. And I'm not just talking strawberries here.
I feel quite ashamed at how readily I assume judgement, jump to the negative, and often choose only to see fault. Nothing brought this more sharply into focus to me than the recent events of last week.
First let me fill you in on the history. Several weeks ago, when Sweet Sam announced he wanted a full-blown disco party to celebrate his 18th birthday, my first reaction was nothing short of dread. See, he not only wanted a DJ and a vast hall, he was also set upon us laying on a fully stocked (alcohol serving) bar, for him and his friends to imbibe in.
Sam doesn't drink.
Most of his friends don't drink. Some (the slightly less savoury amongst them) do (may I remind you of A, who broke his teacher's arm? He can be, and is, sweet as pie most of the time, but he is - to say the least - slightly unpredictable, and he also hangs with several other kids of a similar ilk).
Turning 18 is a rite of passage for most youths in the UK, not only are they considered an adult, it's also the legal age they can finally buy and consume alcohol all on their ownisome.
Okay, let me break this down..
a) A disco involves loud music and strobe lighting - usually a bit of a no-no for any friends of Sam.
b) The amount of friends Sam has can barely fill our sofa, never mind a vast hall.
c) Him and his mates are quite doolally enough for us to handle under ordinary circumstances, without us also having them rat-arsed and off their faces on beer.
So naturally, what the hell, we gave in and booked the friggin' hall, DJ and a barman, anyway. (EeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeK!!)
In a vain hope to curtail over-indulgence, I did make it clear all soft drinks and snacks would be happily provided, but that it would be a strictly cash-only bar on the night (figuring their disability living allowance probably wouldn't stretch very far). Invites were sent out to every teacher (past and present), friend, fellow-pupil, passing acquaintance, and member from each and every club Sam has ever attended - heck, I even gave our bin-men an invite! I also alerted my sis' and her family, and informed them as well as our three (other) teenager's that their attendance is utterly and completely, no excuses accepted, clad-in-iron compulsory.
In the end, I reckon we must have sent half the island out an invite.
Other than three (one of which was A, the other, two teachers), none but our family responded to the RSVP.
ShitShitShit - to cancel or not to cancel?? I'd already made Sam's sib's turn down three "hot and happening" end-of-term parties for the same night. I knew Sam would be nothing short of crushed if I pulled the plug on it, but I simply couldn't think of anything else to do.
I called Beccy, Abby and Matt in for a private crisis meeting, and reluctantly suggested they might want to take up one of those parties they'd been invited to, after all. I knew how hard-done-by they'd been feeling for missing out on all the fun.
Teenager's are selfish, right? They are demanding, insensitive, and never consider any others above their own needs and desires. This I KNOW.
Which is why I am still reeling over what they went and did.
|Abby & Friends with Sam|
They called ALL their friends, and (with no small amount of arm-twisting) convinced a good fair few of them to cancel out whatever plans they might have made for the night. The rallied troops engaged and mingled the entire evening with Sam and his (few) friends, to give them an absolutely wonderful time.
|Bec rarely left (a very shy) H's side|
I am so, so proud of both my three "norms" and of their wonderful pals, they made such a fuss of everyone, giving each and every one of them their full attention, and a great night to remember.
As for Matt - what a hero! He kept rounding up the escapee's in from the rain (well, it got a bit too loud at times for some) and set up a quieter back room for them to better relax in, hanging in there with them to set up rounds of table-tennis and pool, and to keep a closer eye on those who might be in need of it.
|Sam DANCING with (19yr old) brother, Matt!|
Talking of which..
|Getting in to the groove|
Sam asked his dad if he could have a pint of Guinness!
We bought him a half pint (he's never before had so much as a beer in his life) AND he drank it. His face said it all (giggle). I managed to capture it on video, with him sticking his tongue out and grimacing like a gargoyle.
|Sam with his buddy, M|
|Yup, that's me shaking my bum to the camera (blush)!|
Yes, some things are well worth the waiting for, and despite the many tantrums, dramas and all of the usual chaos involved in the day to day raising of four teenager's, it seems to me they are ripening nicely in to the sort of people I can be proud of.
Shamefully, I do often misjudge them, it's too easy to forget how truly blessed I am.
(Now, if only I can remember all of this, the next time one of them is driving me demented, eh?)
p.s. Driving home from the party Sam asked, "So what are we going to do on my birthday?" Although tempted, I remained gracious enough NOT to throw him out of the moving car..
Warning: This video clip contains footage of some extremely embarrassing "Dad Dancing"!