I recently bumped into a 17 year old boy, as one does on occasion however hard one tries not to. This particular 17 year old boy happened to be the first born of one of my longest, but very rarely seen, friends. This particular 17 year old was also the first baby I attempted to pop a coat on, it was terrifying, my friend told me I couldn’t break him but I wasn’t so sure, he looked very breakable. Of course I told him this when we met.
“You were the first baby I dressed”
He looked perplexed, he’d only popped round to see his mate, who happens to be my nephew, he was not expecting some weirdo to start telling him he was a scarily stiff baby.
“I’m so sorry, do I know you?”
Polite, she’s done good I thought. I decided to text her as she does know me.
“Did you know your son is 17?”
It turns out that she had noticed as much. It must have come as such a shock.
But not as much as a shock as my finding out that my nephew is 18. He was 3 last year, I know this because he helped us move in to our first house, I can still see him leant up against a cardboard box that was bigger than him. Then, only last week I’m sure, he came for a sleepover, uninvited I might add, I didn’t know what to do with a small person back then but this didn’t deter him, he wanted to stay over so he did. He kept me up all night making camps next to our bed and in the morning we gave him diet coke and cookies for breakfast because we were childless and knew no better. As I said he’s 18 and a million feet tall so it did him no harm, there’s no need to call the authorities.
On Tuesday we went to see him on his birthday. He seemed taller than ever. The house was full of folk, family and friends turning up to wish him well and to eat his cake whilst he snuck off to fiddle with his Mini engine. Not a euphemism, he is building a car. He has a job, a real one, not like the jobs I had, one that could take him places, I mean really take him places, he travels all over the world even though he was only a tiny person last week. I couldn’t be prouder. Actually that’s not entirely true. One day, again only last week I’m sure, when he was still small, he stood in our kitchen.
“Tina, watch how many times I can jump”
I can’t remember now how many but it was a lot.
Which has thrown me more you are wondering, or not. Meeting that terrifying baby after all that time or getting an invite to the pub from the kid that once told his mum he couldn’t give his auntie a kiss because he’d run out?
Well I shall tell you. Neither.
Having found myself in a room with five of my nephew’s friends, just me in a room full of teenagers, I realised that I’m getting on a bit. I’ve worked it out, when mine are teenagers I’ll be in my 50s. I’ll not know any of their lingo, I’ll probably not like any of the music or films or food or clothes so what in the name of biscuits will we have to talk about?
I freaked a little. It’s all happening way too fast for my liking, in mere moments my kids will stop being kids, they will have jobs and friends who drive round to see them in their own cars. They will have lives of their very own to do with as they chose, lives that will run along side mine rather than with. Shit. Shit. Bugger. What will I have in common with these massive humans? These massive humans that I only get to borrow for a short while.
Well I’ve thunked upon this and, whilst mucking about in the garden today, it hit me, it’s everything. Every day out, every picnic, every Christmas, every holiday, every weekend and every evening meal. Every run around the garden, every game of hide and seek, every tumble or trip to the doctors, every cuddle and every kiss goodnight. I could go on but every is beginning to look wrongly spelt.
We will have time in common. Time well spent.