My brother is moving house today, to his first owned property. And as the proud (and only slightly envious…!) older sister, my husband and I are helping him, so bright and early this morning we picked up the van and now they are hard at work loading said van in the sunshine and I am…well I am sat in Starbucks writing my blog because I was told that being 8 months pregnant, although it’s nice I’m here (in my maternity dungarees, appropriate moving gear I thought..!) practically speaking, I am no use!
So I waddled on down the road and am sat in the sunshine with a Starbucks iced coffee (decaf!) in hand…I don’t know why people say moving is so stressful, I’m having a lovely day…!
Anyway, being sat in a Starbucks takes me back to being a teenager, roughly 13 years ago I practically lived in my local Starbucks, textbooks in one hand, a caramel frappuccino (with whipped cream yes please) in the other and that is where my GCSE coursework and subsequent A-Level and degree work all got done. I wouldn’t even dare hazard a guess at how much I spent on frappuccino’s, blueberry muffins and steak and cheese panini’s but those were in the good old days, I was working part time at the Disney Store and what were those wages for if not financing my Starbucks rent…! (Oh how I wish with hindsight I’d stuck to one drink, no food and saved a few pennies..! I’m not quite in the upper middle class bracket that can have lived that lifestyle and got away with it scot free, but that’s a whole other life lesson entirely!)
In those days of course, if you had the internet at home, you had to turn the computer on and have a spare few hours to wait for the internet to dial up. And then God forbid anyone pick up the phone and you’d hear the screaming tone of the internet highway as your AOL online chat suddenly disconnected, “MUUUUM!!! I was online!!!” Cue the restart of the whole process to get back to that online chat, “sorry my Mum picked up the phone,” being one of the most common parts of early online chat!
So when I went to Starbucks, it wasn’t for the wifi, but for the comfy place to sit outside of school to get work done, on a big A4 pad of paper, surrounded by several heavy textbooks. Kids these days (you know you’re getting older when you use that phrase!) aren’t anywhere near as strong now they only have to carry around a kindle to have access to hundreds of books, and that’s if they choose to use anything past Google and Wikipedia for their school work anyway!
When our little girl does her GCSE’s in 16 years time (or whatever they’re called then!) who knows how much further technology will have gone. Maybe school will be obsolete when scientists have discovered a way of simply downloading the necessary information straight into the brain. Or maybe technology will have got to a point where we’ve started to regress and pen and paper will seen as really retro and cool…unlikely but stranger things have happened, flares came back after all…
It’s all got me nostalgic about my childhood, I hope that despite the newer modern world, our little one will still love playing outside. That, for example, when she tells people she’s played golf, she means crazy golf outside and not just the Nintendo wii virtual golf! I hope she picks up French phrases from a holiday to France and not just by an app (although I have to admit that my husband and I are currently going through an online French course – one of our bucket list items was to be more fluent in a language. It’s a great tool but can’t replace going there and experiencing the culture). I’m going to try my hardest not to be one of those old people who lectures her with phrases like ‘back in my day’ or ‘kids these days have no idea how lucky they are,’ because frankly, that’s part of the joys of childhood. Every generation has it slightly easier than the one before in some ways because of medical and technological advancements but then also have their own new and difficult challenges that the generation before blissfully never had to deal with. And if I knew and understood the challenges of adulthood, I wouldn’t have any memories of an idyllic childhood and adolescence because I’d already be worrying about the years ahead! Those of us lucky enough to earn a few pounds a month to waste on Starbucks food saw the biggest problems in the world as our ‘bloody parents’ picking up the phone when we were in the middle of a very important Dawson’s Creek esque deep conversation with someone we hadn’t seen for at least an hour since the school day ended. And that’s great, I’m unendingly lucky that I could be that self involved!
Don’t get me wrong, I want our daughter to be aware of the world and to care about national and international issues in a way that social media especially these days enables everyone to be. But she’ll only have 18 years maximum not to feel like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders as the realities of adulthood and life will start to bear down on her. With the benefit of a childhood that we will make as carefree and enjoyable as possible, hopefully she’ll have a positive and confident enough spirit to stay excited about life and not get bogged down. My little brother is 20 and today on his moving day, he’s stressed about potential problems further down the line for his flat purchase which may delay getting the keys and sorting out the various mountains of paperwork he needs to be on top of etc etc. So I look back and smile at a time with him when I took him to Disneyland for his birthday, I was old enough to worry about each penny we spent each day, but he was young enough to just take in every bit of magic that Disneyland brings to a 10 year old. How awful it would have been if he was aware that when he accidentally agreed to buying something off a street seller on our return journey, he inadvertently meant that with my holiday budget spent, I could then only afford to buy him dinner and not both of us. That was my problem, not his. He has years and years ahead of him to take his niece places and internally seethe at how much a day trip to the zoo costs these days while she gazes at an elephant in wonder for the very first time. It’s the circle of life!
Sadly, this type of childhood is not a given for every child, some walk miles every day to try and get clean water for their family, some spend time in and out care homes, some are all too aware of how much the zoo costs because their family can barely afford the weeks food shop, let alone a family day out. In these cases, a part time job in a shop can’t be wasted on Starbucks but goes straight into the family pot out of necessity. It’s all relative.
My husband and I are in no way rich, with maternity pay and one income, we watch every penny and know where each one is going (a learning curve that shamefully took me longer than most to learn, most likely thanks to my charmed upbringing!) but we are very aware that we’re far from having a charity bake sale organised in our behalf! But our daughter will hopefully grow up having had day trips, seeing some of the world and enjoying the innocence of her childhood. Today watching my brother, it makes me sad in a way to know that he is now definitely no longer a child and has fully joined that rat race we call adulthood. But I look back fondly for him and for me at childhoods well had! I hope and pray that I can give my daughter the best life possible so that when the inevitable day comes that the weight of the world starts to impact on the magic in life, she’s ready with a back catalogue of happy days to help her carry on through with a smile!