Monday, June 27, 2011


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
 All three put up a united front, pulling out every stop to ensure Sam had the very best party of his entire life. 

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
It may not have been a huge crowd, but it was a crowd enough to constitute a real party. Not once did anyone slack off, no complaints were made of the stark lighting - and everyone joined in with the dancing and Karaoke, giving Sam and his chums a total blast.

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!
Sure, A and his group grew a wee bit more tiddly as the night dragged drew on, but after a quick word with the barman, I convinced him to water the pints down some, with none of them any the wiser (grin).  Ach, don't worry, he gave them a discount!

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
The bulk of the folk left around midnight, leaving us free to clear and sweep up.  My darling children sent Alan to whisk Sam and I off ahead,  (of all days for the Tardus to break down, it had to have been that morning - we'd only had the use of Alan's small car the entire night) they knew I was dead on my feet, and elected to send me on home - they did all the packing up and wiping down without me.

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"!


texwisgirl said...

oh, my heart just expanded 3x its size and my eyes are brimming with tears. you raised not only some good kids but some honest-to-goodness great human beings. God bless them for their loving, fun souls.

mrsnesbitt said...

Wonderful! Now .....3rd July - well we'll have to see wont we hun!!!!!

Marty said...

A beautiful and moving story Shrinky… you have made this middle-aged man cry.

Pat Tillett said...

A very nice and touching post! I'd say, you are quite the good mom. I'd also say, I'm soooo glad the drinking age here is 21! Your son sure does have some nice friends.

Pat Tillett said...

Oh yeah, you are so right about the strawberries. Home grown is by far the best tasting!

Portia said...

Looks like everyone had a great time! Your kids love their brother and it shows! :)

mythopolis said...

I really loved reading this, and getting a glimpse of the warmth...wonderful!!

Tag said...

I'm standing on the sidelines applauding. Well Done to All.

li said...

Oh, what a happy story! It's so nice in a world of perpetual gloomy news to read about decency and generosity, especially in teens who often get short shrift. Kudos to all of them, and to you for making their kindness known.

lladybugg said...

Its easy to underestimate, especially when they put up a fight when you first brought it up...but it sounds like you have a lovely family full of big hearts and fun-loving people. :)

Loved reading this.

Cricket said...

Oh cripes... I read this earlier and you got me then, now, coming back later with time to comment, you teared me up again. What a beautiful story.

You know, obviously, that parenting is a funny thing, and our kids probably have no idea how much of it we make up on the go, or how many nights we go to bed wondering if we did it right.

But every now and then, if you're lucky, you might get a moment like this one, to let you know you must've done something right.

A surprise quiz from the cosmos and you all passed. Congratulations.

Ms. A said...

You are quite the brave soul AND, you survived! Honestly, I'm glad the drinking age is 21 here, though they rarely wait until they are legal. Glad it went well and you had cooperative offspring. Mine rarely get together in the same place, at the same time. Happy Birthday, Sam!

Ami said...

One of the best things I've ever read. Anywhere.

How utterly beautiful that your family has so much love for each other.

And I totally would have come to Sam's party, except I don't dance.

I do love music, though.

Grayquill said...

Inspiring, encouraging, and full of real love. To teach selflessness is a thing some never learn. I got go now I think its beginning to raining.

Rock Chef said...

That is wonderful! So glad it came together in the end.

I love it when we see what good people our kids are growing into...

Moannie said...

OK I admit, this got me blubbing, for the sheer goodness and joy of your delightful children.

And you, Shrinky.

PS The birds ate all my strawberries.

SJ said...

Despite ... I mean... due to their mom of course :)

foam said...

They adore their brother .. and they were raised right my their momma .. :)
Great party and photos!

X. Dell said...

(1) I get the title, now. You were prepared to throw a party that Sam wanted (you, not so much), but in the end, because of the friendships cultivated through years, you wound up with a party that both of you could live with.

(2) If you invited half the island, maybe there were few RSVPs because the friends were standing in solidarity with the half that weren't invited?

Actually, that reaction puzzles me. I would guess that the invitees either glossed over the RSVP, or maybe there was something else happening that (something that the old folks like us aren't supposed to know about?).

Maybe it's a lesson of knowing who your friends are, and who they're not.

Akelamalu said...

This is the most heartwarming thing I've read for I don't know how long! The love and kindness of your family and their friends is an absolute joy.

Shame on the people that couldn't even be bothered to make up an excuse not to come to Sam's party - I have one word for them - KARMA!

I loved the video and Sam's face is a picture - did he enjoy himself! :)

Margaret Benbow said...

Oh Shrinky, you raised a kind and loving batch of kids. This was a joy to read. Sam's sweet face tells it all.

The Future Was Yesterday said...

Just when you're convinced they're the only hell you ever raised (that's a real stretch:P), they up and prove you sooooooo wrong!:)

(start whining, begging voice here) I want some home grown strawberries!! (end voice)

I strongly suspect somebody's eyes were wet when they crawled into bed, and I highly doubt it was Sweet Sam's!:)

Perhaps a post about Sweet Sam from birth to this rite of passage?

Anonymous said...

(big smile) Your broodlings pulled together, helping you give Sam a super great 18th year memory. Loved the video of the party. I noticed Sam's empty Guinness Pint Glass... he might be asking for more of that. (giggle) Ah, and his TT shirt. Tell Sam I like his flashing light button. A great party... and we have those same songs here! (wink) You did good, Mum.


that is just fecking wonderful..

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love it! You've raised some damn fine kids!

Dee Newman said...

What a wonderful post . . . and what a beautiful family. Thank you for sharing and allowing us to get a glimpse of the warmth and caring of your sweet and compassionate children.

Brian Miller said...

ha. that was awesome....great party and how cool of your kids...that is love for sure....that dancing was not so bad..smiles.

TechnoBabe said...

Family comes through again. Your kids sound like they have been taught the importance of loving. Glad Sam had a wonderful 18th birthday. And I am happy you see even more reasons to be proud of your children.

~Babs said...

I am shouting,,,just reading this makes my heart so full!
Family,,,circling the wagons.

What a great job you've done with ALL your kids, Shrink. Great job!
A night Sam ( and the family) will never forget.

Joanna Jenkins said...

My heart is F.U.L.L. after reading that fantastic story. What a fantastic 18th birthday for Sam and how awesome that your kids and their friends pitched in and made it a PARTY! Bless their hearts.

You know I'm in love with a special needs kid and this is my kind of story. It gives me such hope and reminds me of the kindness in the world. Thank you.


xo jj

Putz said...

yiour fam renminds me so much of my own, sam your girls all the partiers as said they are so loving, hope life never gives them loops, but of course it will and then they will be so grown up to face them

Jayne said...

Aw Shrinky, I loved this story. So inspiring... what a beautiful family you have, and no doubt, Mama's set a fine example. Loved all the pics and video. Made me want to be right there on the dance floor with all of you! :D

Anonymous said...

Aw, that is so sweet, and amazing, and I love that you were shaking your bum! =)

Suldog said...

It strictly just does not get any better than this. Utterly impossible to top it. That video could be the final scene from some treacly tearjerker movie, but it's absolutely and stunningly real. I am at a loss for further words.

wishihadakarmaanghia said...

Fan Bloody Tastic! Bless them! That is the sweetest thing I've ever heard. Yummy mummy, yummy kids xxx

Anonymous said...

It's not very often I have 'tiny tears' moments but seriously I think this is one of the best posts I ever read. I LOVE the fact that everyone pulled together to make sure Sam had a fabulous birthday. I am sure it is one that he and his friends will remember for a long time to come (well at least until he decides he wants a 21st party!!). I started watching the video but came here to write the comment while it buffers... Looking forward to the embarrassing moves.

You must be a fantastic mother, your kids sound amazing. Well done you.

Anonymous said...

Yep, the video got me too!! Does every family have Dad's that can dance to 'Does your Mother know'?? It's always especially cool to borrow a small child to dance with and make your moves look like you are only joking around! :)

Fen said...

Oh those kids are just awesome, they have restored my faith in yoof!

I may have drooled at those strawberries too, I miss them in the winter months. Yum.

Lori G said...

Oh my!!! My cheeks hurt from smiling!!! (and tears in my eyes)I knew it would work out Shrinky!!! What a wonderful group of kids. You should be very proud. Beautiful post, all Beautiful kids, & especially beautiful hearts. Wow...
Happy Birthday Sam!!!!!!!!

Skunkfeathers said...

Simply awesome story, and just as well told.

Middle Child said...

This is such a beautiful post - and its so good to see how the girls are...there are plenty of good kind decent kids out there and you have some

Open Ends said...

Such a beautiful post... You must be so proud.. God Bless

secret agent woman said...

What a wonderful post - so sweet!

(21 is the legal drinking age here.)

Putz said...

WHAT IN THE world is a moggy?????????

imbeingheldhostage said...

You've gone and got me all soggy again. What a wonderful story!!

Hilary said...

At times like these, you know you've done something right. Your beautiful family.. they must make you so very proud. Thank you for sharing this. :)

TechnoBabe said...

I had to congratulate you for making POTW on Hilary's blog.

silly rabbit said...

What a wonderful post! Clear proof that a family who loves each other is here. Good job mom! Your children are treasures. You are truly blessed.
I can't stop smiling. Happy birthday Sam! And congratulations to you on getting the POTW award. Big grins!

Barb said...

Dear Shrinky, Those Teens stewing in the life of your family have learned something special about kindness and love. A great night for Sam and for the Family as a whole! Congratulations on POTW.

Jinksy said...

Fantastic from start to finish!♥

Parabolic Muse said...

This is a link on my site now. It's too awesome!

lailani said...

What a fun time, and how great that everyone came together to make his birthday wonderful!