Maturity and Lost Youth

Am I jealous of youth? Of course I am

The sign on the road ahead said Cats Eyes Removed. I bet someone sniggered when they put that one up

C and I had travelled to Cornwall by train, where we had enjoyed dinner, cocktails and people-watching together before having to share a small double bed. So when she turned to me at the bus garage the next day and said ‘I really don’t want to go. I don’t like it here, I know I don’t want to live here and so it’s a waste of time going to the university’ I explained in no uncertain terms that life is not always about what you want, but about what you have said you will do

She still looked glum, but I had taken two days off work to make this happen and I was done with it

‘Oh, just grow a pair, babe’

(No-one ever asks me for parenting tips. I can’t imagine why)

So we took our bus and we arrived to register for her taster day at the university. The nice and very confident young ‘ambassador’ dressed in yellow put a hand on my shoulder

‘Did you have a difficult trip down?’ she asked

I didn’t know how to respond. I wanted to say ‘I’m fifty one. I always look like this. It will happen to you one day’

I declined her offer of the group tour of the campus with the other parents, in case I said something inappropriate, and I bounded back to the bus stop. I felt a bit lost, rather like on C’s first day at pre-school when I had to leave her behind in the hope that she’d stop crying. I was back in Cornwall and there was no way I was going to hang around all day

Sitting upstairs on the front seat of the bus as it pulled out of the campus, I heard a girl somewhere behind me advising a male friend with a hangover. She had a strong Cornish accent and sounded very officious, as though she might have some medical training:

‘Big bottle of water. Make sure you drink it.

‘Paracetamol.

‘Bacon sandwich’

The last was delivered in a ‘job done’ kind of way

In my day, of course, it was Ribena and Hula Hoops, but they’ve now taken most of the sugar and salt out, rendering them useless. Still, it was good to hear that she had a formula, and I felt very motherly towards them. So I was shocked when we reached Falmouth and I saw that the pair getting off were not the young students I had taken them to be, but a man in his late forties wearing a suit and a woman perhaps slightly younger than that. The hangover cure suddenly seemed way too basic for their age group (I choose spicy tomato-based concoctions laced with chill, cumin and coriander. That’s what age – and a lot of drinking – has taught me)

After a couple of hours scouting out Falmouth in the grizzle, I made sure to visit their art gallery and see the oil study by John William Waterhouse  of ‘the Lady of Shalott’ taken from Tennyson’s epic poem of a life bravely and briefly seized, which I so loved as a child:

‘She left the web, she left the room, She made three paces thro’ the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott’

The trip had not been for nothing, I kept telling myself. The fact that C is now actually considering going to university – and so far from home – is a brand new development and this is all good experience for her. Apparently she’s even the first of her friends to visit a university and there is time to visit others. She eventually joined me back at the university canteen mid-afternoon

‘Well, that was interesting’ she said. ‘I absolutely love the campus, the course sounds amazing and I think I really want to come here’

Apparently the facilities are excellent. So good, in fact, that she even tried to persuade me to apply as a mature student (I explained that I can’t think of anything worse than to have your mum at the same uni as you, and that I have so many other things to do with the rest of my life)

I’m not very mature anyway

 

Author: poshbirdy

Art deco/ art nouveau maniac enjoying a deep and meaningful relationship with alcohol

6 thoughts on “Maturity and Lost Youth”

  1. You and I share kindred mothering skills that is plainly obvious! I’m afraid when the youngest of my four was looking at Uni’s I was just muttering under my breath ‘fly little birdy, fly!’

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the macabre humour in the sign – surely the phrasing couldn’t have been unintentional , although I don’t know how else they could have put it. I hope it was a temporary thing and they aren’t going the way of France where they don’t have them and I never realised how useful those little lights in the middle of the road were until I drove in the dark here. Did you find that?
    No remedy can help me these days if I make the mistake of drinking enough to make me hungover. I just have to stay very still – preferably in bed – and pray for it to pass.
    I think your daughter paid you the ultimate compliment in suggesting you register at the same university. I was moaning about the upheaval the other week when my eldest arrived with her boyfriend and another couple I’d never met for a few days skiing but, as a friend pointed out to me, I should be glad she feels good about bringing friends over to stay at her parents’ house which is something I would never have done at her age. So, we must be doing something right.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Saying “Grow a pair” does not disqualify you from goodmotherdom. In one of my moments of need, I said “Suck it up and take it like a man”.My young daughter miraculously understood the humor and laughed.
    Her suggestion that you come there and study too speaks volumes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I lived (or rather seriously misspent) four years of my younger life in Falmouth, in and around the Art college. And it’s very touristy but still a great spot. She will probably love it.
    I hope she is more sensible than I was! My own children don’t know the half of it and they do disapprove somewhat.

    I certainly wouldn’t win any parenting awards, though I do try

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great story! I can’t think of anything worse than being a mature student at the same Uni as one’s daughter either. eeeek. Now that our eldest is in her final year at Uni, I have a pretty good idea of what goes on, actually it’s really not much different to what went on when I was 20, and to a large extent I don’t want to know about the drinking, the hangovers and all that goes with it, been there, done that. I just tell her to be careful and of course to avoid drugs etc, the rest she’ll learn by her own mistakes, just as we all have!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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