Spread your wings

The Big T and I were talking this morning about the holidays we used to have when the boy-child was small. Looking back, they seem frequent and filled with sunshine, and I was reminded of these lyrics from Summertime

… One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But till that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you
With daddy and mammy standin’ by

Summertime’, George Gershwin. From Porgy and Bess

I think we all dream of keeping our children safe, but know in our hearts we must give them space and confidence to take wing.

It’s a wonderful song, and this version by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong is probably my favourite.

Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

Why not join in — as Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind so brilliantly puts it “casual players welcome.”

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King of the Road

su and uncle tom mod With my beloved great uncle Tom, my grandad’s younger brother. Carshalton, England, c. 1966.

There’s a family story that when I was about four my grandad bought me a record player, because I’d been given a record of nursery rhymes as a gift and we had nothing to play it on.

There was a portable record player in our house when I was little, and although I have no memory of any nursery rhymes, I do recall a small collection of records that were played again and again. There were a couple by The Beatles (Ticket to Ride was one), something yodell-ey which I now think might have been Frank Ifield’s I Remember You, and Roger Miller’s King of the Road.

I had no idea what the lyrics were, or could possibly mean, but I remember singing along with great enthusiasm … “trailers for cigarettes? sailorettes?”

It’s a song that’s been covered many times by many people, but my absolute favourite version is by the Proclaimers. What’s not to love about twins from Auchtermuchty singing an American song with Scottish accents.

There is a connection of sorts with the photo above. Uncle Tom owned a Messerschmitt KR200 — a three-wheeled bubble car. Being allowed to ride with him was one of the great joys of my young life. In my eyes, he was the King of the Road.

My friend Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

Why not join in — you don’t have to post every day.

Playing for keeps

When the boy-child was at primary school, each year in around the second week of Term Three — maybe the first week in August — marbles started being played at school.

It wasn’t organised or announced. As far as I can tell, it was the most spontaneous, and in some ways the most momentous, event in the school calendar. For the boys anyway.

The craze usually lasted about two weeks before disappearing as suddenly as it came.

But in those two weeks, the boys experienced life intense and sometimes brutal: triumphs, failures, frustrations and anguish; rule-making, rule-breaking; bullying, humiliation and ranking — endless ranking. The marbles were ranked in value; the players even more so.

And always “playing for keeps.” Not just the marbles but the experiences too.

Posted to the Ragtag Daily Prompt | marble

Daily Post Photo Challenge: Time

 

Father and baby son sitting on Katana motorbike. Image: Su Leslie, 1999

The Big T and our boy-child, Jan 1999 on the beloved Katana. Image: Su Leslie

Father and teenage son on Katana motorcycle. Su Leslie, 2016

Before you know it! Re-creating the shot isn’t as easy when the boy-child is almost as tall as his father, and less willing to play “hands on head”. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Nothing makes me quite so aware of time passing as looking at old photos; especially photos of my child. Is it really almost 18 years since I give birth to a tiny, skinny boy with a shock of red hair? Has 17 years truly passed since we first sat him on his dad’s motorbike?

The answers of course are “yes, and “yes”.

The boy-child will be 18 in a few weeks. He is to all intents and purposes an adult. He has a job he loves, owns a car he bought with his own savings (NOT a motorbike — he never really got bike-fever thankfully), and is proving to be a level-headed, generous, compassionate and independent human being.

In the Great Clean-Out that is part of the preparation for selling our house, I’ve found boxes and boxes of the boy-child’s stuff; toys, books, games, keepsakes. And what I’ve noticed is that those objects which hold the strongest memories for me are not the most recent acquisitions, but those from the very beginning of our life as a family, when time stretched in ways we’d never imagined, and our child’s age was measured in days and weeks, rather than years.

How can it be that I can recall every hour of his first few days, and yet 18 years have flown by?

This post was written for the Daily Post Photo Challenge.

A community of place and time

An ordinary suburban street;  infused with memory. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

An ordinary suburban street; infused with memory. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

I’ve lived in my house for 14 years, one month and three weeks. That’s the longest I’ve ever lived in any one place – over three times longer in fact.

When I was a child my family moved frequently; by age sixteen I had lived in eight houses in three towns in two countries. My son has lived in three houses in two countries – two of them between birth and age two. He’s sixteen now.

This neighbourhood is a living map of my son’s life. Even the office in which I sit to write this was his bedroom for the first few years. We chose this house – over any of the other 40 or so that we viewed – because it had an enclosed back yard, visible from the kitchen window, where a small boy could play in his sandpit, ride his trike or use the mini-workbench and tools he so loved. The large flat front lawn has been perfect for impromptu games of soccer and rugby with the other children in our neighbourhood.

The boy-child in our backyard. He loved his workbench and tools. Photo: Su Leslie 2001.

The boy-child in our backyard. He loved his workbench and tools. Photo: Su Leslie 2001.

Because this is a family neighbourhood. The local primary school has educated several generations of locals, there are parks, nature reserves and a thriving PlayCentre community. When we moved in, the first generation of children had grown into teenagers and we endured a few noisy parties before those families began moving out, to be replaced with others in the same stage of the family life-cycle stage as us. Next door, across the road, in the cul de sac opposite – over the years the neighbourhood has filled with children around our son’s age. As I write this, I’m watching a man help his child learn to ride their first bicycle in exactly the place we took the boy-child when he got his first bike.

How many children have learned to ride a bike on this quiet street? Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

How many children have learned to ride a bike on this quiet street? Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

We live in a cul de sac; at the end of which are a couple of walkways. One leads to the main road, shops and bus stop – the other to another set of cul de sac. This is a village on a tiny peninsula on the edge of a city. Although I can’t see it because of trees and houses, a branch of the upper Waitemata Harbour lies about 500 metres from my house.

A few hundred metres from my house, the upper reaches of the Waitemata Harbour. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

A few hundred metres from my house, the upper reaches of the Waitemata Harbour. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

Over the years many of the houses in the houses in this street have been bought and sold, and almost all have been extensively renovated – including ours. It’s difficult to remember now, walking to the local store, what places looked like before the extension, re-clad, re-paint or front fence. It’s easier to remember the slow dawdle to pre-school with an inquisitive two-year old in stripey trousers and a little back-pack. I can still feel the ghost of a tiny, soft hand in mine and the echo of a little voice asking questions that always seemed to come out of nowhere and often had me stumped. “When granddad bought his tractor, how did he get it home Mummy?” “What colour are tastebuds?”

Later, when the boy-child went to the local primary school, we took a different route; past the War Memorial Park (which doubled as a soccer training ground). Every day he would walk along the top of the fence and I still instinctively want to reach out and grasp a small hand at the places where the fence rails are wobbly.

Early morning on the usually quiet road by our local park. Photo: Su Leslie, 2013

Early morning on the usually quiet road by our local park. Photo: Su Leslie, 2013

These days his urge to balance on a fence-top has been replaced by one to skateboard down the – usually quiet – road. I preferred the old days.

Our village has changed so much in 14 years. The petrol station has gone- demolished along with the old local store to be replaced by a parade of shops and other businesses. The store itself is larger, brighter and has a better layout, but I miss the old days when it seemed as though – come the end of the school day – half the village would cram itself into that tiny, dark Aladdin’s cave to buy the kids an ice-cream and catch up with the neighbours, the soccer mums and that woman from the PTA whose name I could never remember. Playdates were organised, lunches arranged and babysitting arrangements made in the tiny aisle between cat food and toilet cleaner.

In our early days here, I often seemed to find myself half way through cooking dinner when I’d realise I’d run out of something. I’d phone the local shop, and somehow they always had one tin of coconut cream or one bottle of rice vinegar  – or whatever it was I needed. I’d arrive a few minutes later to find it waiting for me on the counter.

The local store had served the community for generations. Now demolished and replaced with something bigger and brighter — but still the village hub. Photo: Michelle Keller.

This year, we have begun to seriously talk of selling the house and leaving the neighbourhood. The boy-child attends school in the city and – despite a brand new skatepark opening in the village – his time is largely spent elsewhere. He will finish school at the end of this year and a new phase of his life will begin.

Houses are being bought and sold again and the neighbours we have been closest to have all moved on. Once again the street is full of strollers, tricycles and kids starting primary school. Ours hasn’t quite turned into the noisy party house, but I can’t help feeling we aren’t far off.

So it is time to go; to seek new parks and pavements and to imprint new memories on new everyday places.

This is the little boy who moved here all those years ago. He's grown a bit and changed a bit, but still has the twinkle in his eye and a lust for life. It will soon be a life lived elsewhere. Photo: Su Leslie 2001

This is the little boy who moved here all those years ago. He’s grown a bit and changed a bit, but still has the twinkle in his eye and a lust for life. It will soon be a life lived elsewhere. Photo: Su Leslie 2001

The Daily Post Writing Challenge asked us to look at our neighbourhood with new eyes and for me that has involved re-living so much of my son’s childhood. I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy that.

for the sheer joy of it

There wasn’t a lot of music in my house when I was growing up. My mum favoured “Greatest Hits” type classical music and singers like Frank Ifield and (cringe) Cliff Richard. My dad owned some Nat King Cole and George Shearing (but not much of either); which I thought were really cool. We also had lots of “Scottish” music of the particularly sentimental variety.

So my musical taste has been formed by friends and boyfriends and it is — quite frankly — all over the place. I used to be a bit embarrassed by this, but now I’ve just just come to accept that “that’s who I am.”

Maybe it’s because of this patchwork approach and my lack of the sort of tribal loyalty to particular genres that tends to emerge in teenagers, I respond to music in a very simplistic way. Some things just move me. I could analyse it, but generally I choose not to.

So I’m not going to write an essay about Poi E. I’m just going to say that it is one of the most joyous pieces of music I know and let you decide for yourselves. I’m interested to hear what you think.

Also check this out. It’s from the movie Boy and I think it does a brilliant job of taking spirit of Poi E into the 21st century.