Friday flip through the archive

Carefree to care-managed: the art of growing up

Su Leslie, 2002.

I wrote this three years ago, yet think it is as appropriate now as then. The challenges facing my son as an 18 year old are different, but no less real. He continues to rise to them and to be a human being worth knowing.


Carefree: without worries or responsibilities.

We often think of childhood days as carefree; and it is true that watching young children at play evokes a sense of their freedom from concern or constraint.

When the boy-child was younger, fantasy games formed a huge part of his everyday play. Like many children, he loved to create forts out of chairs and blankets, turn cardboard boxes into spaceships, dress up and invent imaginary friends. In his case they were imaginary older siblings, which, for a mother struggling with infertility, was pretty tough to deal with at times.

Incredibly inventive, he was constantly making things. Lego and building blocks were indispensable in building props for his, often quite complex, games. Cardboard sheets were sellotaped and stapled into cars, aeroplanes and once, a huge aircraft carrier (and I mean huge).

Items he wanted but didn’t have were improvised. As a two year old, he…

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Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: a spring in his step

Jumping for joy; the boy-child on holiday in the UK. Photo: Tony Gray, 2006

Jumping for joy; the boy-child on holiday in the UK. Photo: Tony Gray, 2006

It’s autumn here in New Zealand and we definitely seem to have reached the end of the golden weather.

The boy-child has been off on Planet Teenager for the past few days — managing to be verbally uncommunicative whilst stomping around in a manner that just screams “not happy.”

It probably won’t last; my funny, loving son should soon emerge from whatever funk he’s in and remind me why I’m so happy to be his mother. In the meantime, I’m reminding myself of the good old days — before he grew into a heavy-footed giant and he always seemed to have a spring in his step.

This post was written for the Daily Post Photo Challenge. Here are some other “spring” posts I’ve enjoyed:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

Weekly Photo Challenge | Spring

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

WPC: Spring

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

Weekly Photo Challenge: object

Was it love at first sight? The boy-child aged two meeting a skateboard for the first time. Photo: Su Leslie 2000

Was it love at first sight? The boy-child meeting a skateboard for the first time. Photo: Su Leslie 2000

If I were to choose an icon to represent the boy-child, it would be a skateboard.

He was first put on his father’s skateboard at the age of two. Within weeks he had constructed his own “board” out of an old carton and was “doing tricks” with it in the living room. A plastic board followed, but that was a bit unsatisfying so he learned to ride on his dad’s.

There have been periods in his life when skateboarding hasn’t been central – but it’s difficult to remember them. For the last five or so years, skating has been his passion. It’s overtaken music as the great love, but has found a profitable bedfellow in photography.

Dreams of becoming a professional skater have morphed into a more tangible goal of making at least part of his living photographing and filming skaters. So far, so good. He recently made a feature-length film which got  sponsorship from a skate shop and team, and which is getting very positive feedback from the skating community.

Although he still skates, the boy-child spends more of his time now filming and photographing other skaters. Photo: Copyright Tom Gray 2014.

I think it’s probably fairly clear from my posting that I am incredibly proud of my son. And one of the things I am most proud of is that he lives his life passionately and is not afraid to pursue his dreams and make them real.

This post was written in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge, and also as part of my “countdown” to my son’s sixteenth birthday.

You can see more “object” posts:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

Seeing Triple?

Dry Objects

Weekly Photo Challenge – Object

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

Be Real

… or read the earlier posts in my countdown:

Google Mum

photo credit: SanforaQ8 via photopin cc

photo credit: SanforaQ8 via photopin cc

So, there’s this family right. Mum, Dad, teenage son.

Blue lips

And they’re having dinner one night when the son casually mentions that time his lips went like, you know, blue.

And the mother, who’s mid-forkful of mac and cheese, goes, “WHAT!!!!”

And the son, who’s spooning food onto his plate goes … “Oh, I didn’t tell you. Yeah, me and (friend who shall remain nameless) decided it would be fun to put blue food colouring in our juice and, well, like my lips went blue; like a Smurf right.”

And the mother, who’s just so relieved that her darling, precious only child hasn’t suffered hypothermia, or taken some terrible drug (not saying that blue food colouring isn’t terrible, just not quite in the same league as Ecstasy or meth, or whatever).

And the kid goes, “yeah, like I told Dad cos he might check my browser history and …”

The mother is confused. “Why would that be a problem?”

Green poo

“Well” says the son, “a couple of days later I was like, pooing green and like … WOW!”

And the mother is more bewildered.

“So I did a search to find out why it was green.”

“You searched the internet for ‘green shit’?”

“No, I Googled ‘why is my poo green?’ And I told Dad cos I didn’t want him to think I’m like pervy or anything.”

By now, the mother has given up any attempt to eat and is not-very silently weeping with laughter.

“And what did Google say?” She is trying really hard to act as if conversations about unnaturally tinted excrement happen in all families.

“Too much spinach, blue food colouring or intestinal parasites.”

The son has now finished dinner and is nonchalantly loading the dishwasher.

“I knew I hadn’t been eating spinach, and I’m really glad it was the food colouring. It said you treat intestinal parasites with a ‘simple colon cleanse.’ That’s putting stuff up your bum isn’t it?” By now he’s wandering off to plug himself back into his computer.

The serious reflection bit

Afterwards, the mother finds herself thinking about the conversation. She has been a very hands-on mother; parenting solo quite a lot while her partner travels on business. She has answered her son’s questions about sex, Santa Claus and how Grandad got his tractor home from the place he bought it. She has explained blow-jobs and why aeroplanes look like they’re going fast from the ground but don’t feel fast when you’re on them. Sometimes she has felt inadequate to answer the questions and other times she’s been exhausted by the sheer inquisitiveness of her child. But now she reflects on being replaced with Google, and is glad that she has been her son’s “go to” source of information for so long. She will miss the left-field questions that her son has thrown her, and hopes that occasionally he will still come to her for guidance.

Though she has to admit, she’d never have offered blue food colouring as a cause of green poo.

Weekly Photo Challenge: the golden hour

Silhouette of youth

Silhouette of youth

It’s mid-winter here, and cold. Not a good time to be out in the golden hours taking photographs and I’ve posted so many old sunrise-sunset photos I don’t want to repeat myself.

But I like the irony in this shot. It was a glorious evening, making even the extensive mudflats at Pt. Chevalier look spectacular. My partner and I admired the view; our son remained largely oblivious to everything but the music on his iPod. I love the way he’s turned away from the sunset. It’s not only a nice photo, but a nice comment on our different priorities in life.

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: the golden hour

Following the passion



My son is nearly 15. He has been riding (real) skateboards since he was about two and a half – and I won’t embarrass him by reminding him (too much) of his earlier enthusiasm involving a skateboard-shaped cardboard cutout which he kind of surfed around the living room. Lets just say that skating can truly be considered one of the great loves of his life.

First skateboard ride

First skateboard ride

Back in the day; beginning to learn the skills.

Back in the day; beginning to learn the skills.

For the last few years he’s been making films of himself and his friends skating. At first I was the camera operator; spending what seemed like hours standing/crouching/lying in carparks, roadsides, skateparks, etc filming take after take until the trick was landed.

Now that he and his friends are better (and more adventurous) skaters, so the films have become  intrinsically much more exciting to watch. And naturally, his film-making skills have improved too, so that even though I don’t really “get” skateboarding, I can enjoy his movies.

I hope you do too.