My mother in the mirror
Trying once more to persuade my teenage daughter to eat any type of vegetable, I had an echo from that time in my life of my mother doing exactly the same thing. Catherine from Shanghaiedaway left a comment on my Rambling page about how some of the things we begrudgingly had to do as children turn out to be activities that we end up appreciating as adults.
I started thinking of all the things I now really like that I hated as a teenager. Things that I did begrudgingly or not at all. Particularly things that my parents liked or tried to encourage me to do.
I am not sure how objective I can be, looking back at that time from my fifties. I wonder if I really hated these things or if it was just part of being a teenager, of hating everything my parents liked. I remember being very fed up at the time. Some of the things I rejected then are important in my life now.
Let’s go for a nice walk!
Normally for my family it was a walk. Sometimes we went for a bike ride, which was not so bad, but the youngsters could not keep up. Going to the swimming baths was a rare treat and boating on the lake rarer still. My parents knew that getting us moving was important. So it would be a walk at least once a week. There were parks close to where we lived and one had a large lake that we could walk round. We would have long walking holidays and set out with our lunch in a back pack each morning. I didn’t mind this so much when I was very young, but as a teenager I hated it. In the evenings we would hope for rain the next day so that we would not be forced to go walking again. It didn’t work because my parents would always manage to get a walk in ‘between the drops’ – normally involving us all getting soaked.
It took many years for me to come back to walking but now I love it. If I don’t get out for a walk for a few days I become quite edgy. Only if the weather is very bad will I not walk for a week. Earlier this year I had tendonitis in my hip and couldn’t walk for a couple of months. It didn’t help that as soon as I was out of pain I went for a walk and so my hip could not heal properly. I eventually recovered and then the storms came so I was housebound again. I walk with my friend Antoinette and her dog. She feels the same way and if we have not been for a few days we go anyway and just hope that we can make a circuit before we get soaked. Luckily we haven’t had many soakings.
Look it up!
As a teenager I was lazy when it came to doing homework. If ever there was research involved I would first of all ask my parents. They would inevitably tell me to look it up. We had thousands of books that I could look in. My parents considered a visit to the library as much of a pleasure as I found it a chore. If I asked how to spell a word I was always told to use a dictionary. I would roll my eyes, ‘Why can’t you just tell me it would be much quicker?’ or ‘How can I look it up if I don’t know how to spell it?’.
Now I spend ages looking things up, on-line in books sometimes both. I find a word and read about the etymology out of interest. I will look things up in several different places just to see if any authority has a different point of view. And I enjoy it. It does not take much to encourage me to look something up either. I hear something on the radio, read something in a book, see something on a walk and I want to know more about it. Bertrand is a fiend for information. He will start out looking for a supplier of fishing flies and when I look next he has found a plan of how to build his own boat.
Go out and get some fresh air!
Words that put dread in my soul particularly in the winter. My parents would try to get us to go out for ‘a breath of fresh air’ as often as possible. They would enthuse over the certain benefits of being outside and all we really wanted to do was listen to music in our rooms. We would put on hats and coat and gloves to ‘wrap up warm’. So if this fresh air was doing us good why did we have to wrap up against it? At school, even as teenagers, we were shoved outside into a dreary concrete playground three times a day. Some of my classmates tried to hide in the loos or went round the back of the school to smoke in the bike shed. I stayed beside the school wall stamping my feet and huddled in a groups of friends. We were far too grown up to run around to keep warm as the younger ones did.
If I can’t get out of the house for a few days I start climbing the walls. I work at home and in the stormy season here I sometimes feel like I have not poked my nose out of the door for months. I long to breath in the air from outside. I listen to the wind rattling the shutters and watch through the windows as anything that isn’t nailed down is flung around the garden. I tried once during this season to open a window in my bedroom and the force of the wind wrenched my arm. Bertrand had to come and help me to shut the window. It doesn’t last for long really but when we have had bad weather for a week I feel very shut in. A soon as the wind dies down I can go outside and breath. And yes I wrap up warm.
Eat your vegetables!
Vegetables, fruit, or any other food that came under the heading of ‘healthy’ . My mother served them up and I rejected them specially broccoli - does any child really like broccoli? I would push them around my plate trying to make it look like I had made an effort. I would cut them up and try to hide them under one cabbage leaf. They were always the last thing on my plate and the first thing my mother wanted me to eat. Portable fruit, like bananas and apples, that I could take to my room and munch on whilst looking at my homework were OK. Fruit in juice served in a bowl that I had to sit at the table to eat was not.
The other thing I hated about vegetables when I was a child was our allotment. I was not sure that people still had these until I saw a post on Freshly Pressed from Fiona Grows Food. For me the trek down to the allotment and weeding between the rows of vegetables was just another chore. I got no joy out of it and saw it as time I could be with my friends. I hated the vegetables because they were dirty and had bugs in them not like the ones from the market or the shop. Cutting the bugs and bad parts out of the potatoes I would grumble that it was all a waste of time as most of the stuff was thrown away anyway. I know yes – I was a horrid teenager.
I know that tastes change over time. Strong flavours mellow with age and bitter tastes more acceptable. I like wine quite a lot now and bitter chocolate enormously. I also like fruit and vegetables. I like looking at the many different varieties of vegetables there are available. They look so attractive in the shops and on the market stalls. I find different ways of cooking them and presenting them to my family only to face the same rejection that my mother did. My husband and daughter are very French, they don’t eat vegetables, well not so that you would notice. I did once try cooking vegetarian for Bertrand. He tasted it, proclaimed it delicious and got out the ham to eat with it. The French don’t do vegetarianism.
Although Bertrand does not like eating vegetables so much he does like growing them and we grow some every year. We haven’t got the balance right yet. We have too many tomatoes or chard and not enough broccoli. But we enjoy watching things grow and the taste of really fresh vegetables.
Go to bed !
‘But why? I am not tired’ I would moan as I tried to persuade my mum that the film on the television was actually suitable for my age group even though it was marked 18. She would not relent. In my room I had books and I would read (under the bedclothes with a torch) for hours until my eyelids were too heavy.The next day I would insist that I wasn’t at all tired and going to school and concentrating on lessons was not a problem. Hey I probably only really needed about four hours sleep really. When the holidays came I would stay in bed as long as I was able to. Even when I had left home to go to university I would not go to bed early. Life as a student was there to be enjoyed and I burned the candle at both ends many times. When the holidays came I would go to my parents house and sleep until lunch time each day to recharge my batteries for the next term.
I now freely admit to liking sleep and I can’t ever seem to get enough. Things conspire against me. During the week I wake up at 6:30. Although I don’t start work until 8:30 I get up to spend time with my family at breakfast. Bertrand leaves the house at just after seven and my daughter takes an age to get ready. That’s OK because I have some time to read before she leaves to go to school and I get ready for work. In the evenings I never feel that I want to go to bed before I know everyone else is in bed. When I try I can’t sleep and my daughter is a teenager so she does not want to be in bed early. The school holidays are the worst as she will stay up late and I still have to get up early. I look forward to the weekends when I can stay in bed. Even then some other event will rear its head and for one reason or another I never quite get as much sleep as I would like.
Let’s all go to……..!
When I was a teenager whatever it was I didn’t want to go. My parents tried to stimulate varied interests in all of us but, well, we were teenagers. Museums and art galleries were the worst. Who wants to look at stuffed dead things and gloomy paintings by dead artists? The only one I liked was Madam Tussaud’s if you can call that a museum. I wanted desperately to go to the chamber of horrors. I was trying very hard to be a punk except my mum wouldn’t let me dye my hair black or wear make-up anywhere except my bedroom, specially not if it was black.
Of course my parents tastes in music were not at all the same as mine. Are they ever the same for parents and teenagers? They liked Folk, Jazz and classical music. I wanted to hear the latest pop songs and had started to listen to punk coming over in the mid 1970′s from America like Blondie and the Ramones and later The Clash and The Sex Pistols. In the privacy of my bedroom I still listened to the Bay City Rollers, David Essex and Showaddywaddy but my public image was punk. It didn’t really matter which for my parents it was all ‘that noise’.
If you look at some of my earlier posts you will see that I now regularly go to a Jazz club. My tastes in music have become much wider. I like to listen to some classical music particularly classical guitar. I like rock and folk, country and blues, gypsy and world music. When I go to the Jazz club I often go with my parents and we enjoy the evening together. If we are at one another’s houses for a meal we compare new discs that we have bought and often like the same things. My daughter listens to modern music and I try hard not to call it ‘that noise’.
I am sure that this list is not exhaustive.
I look at my daughter and I see myself as I was at her age. I look in the mirror and I see my mother as she was when I was a teenager.
Are there things that you enjoy in life now that your parents loved and you hated? Do you find yourself saying the same things to your children as they said to you?
- Day 10: Mirror, Mirror… (30dans365.wordpress.com)
- My Mother’s Daughter (bellesandjewels.wordpress.com)
- Why I Hate Teenagers (serenitypearls.wordpress.com)