I've spent the past half hour studiously ignoring an escalating argument between Sam and Alf. We are in the third week of Sam being home from University, and they have had quite enough of each other. It rarely comes to blows, but I've had to block my ears to some rather choice words being sparred back and forth. Olly is enthralled to Kung Fu Panda, and I've shut the door to lessen the sound. I could go up and intervene, but quite frankly I tend to make it much worse. Siblings just need to sort it out by themselves sometimes, don't you think?
They are so very different, you see. They clash on many levels. And add to this the older sibling imposing his new found status as an independent man of learning, and it's all a recipe for disaster. I'm actually quite surprised that it hasn't happened sooner. It's gone quiet again. For now.....
What I wanted to write about was a lovely walk that I took with Samuel yesterday evening. When he was little, and even before we had Honey, Sam and I would often stretch our legs after tea. Marc would bathe baby Alfie, and pop him to bed. I would take Sam out for an evening ramble, in order to try and tire him out. Or to alleviate whatever little worry was niggling him. He was always a sensitive child, prone to over thinking and developing fears of many things; vomiting, swallowing, choking and the like. He started to read voraciously as a way to distract himself, but it wasn't always enough. Sometimes it was hard to know what to do to help him.
From a young age, he would rather walk than be in his pram or buggy. He loved to stop and start, inspecting things along the way. He noticed everything; every insect, every bit of rubbish on the floor, every sound, every car. He asked incessant questions about it all. Sam was always full of the whys. It could be quite exhausting when you were indoors, trying to do all the other stuff as well as look after this questioning child. It was easier to be outside with him, walking at a leisurely pace and being able to give your attention to him fully.
And so as he grew older, Sam and I would often walk our favourite walks. And as he grew older, I started to learn from him. He told me everything that I would ever need to know about dinosaurs. Ditto traction engines and other steam powered machines. On one particular walk, I had a complete potted history of St Ives. And there was the time that he told me all about An Goff the Cornish martyr. We have seen some wonderful things together on these walks; a pod of dolphins swimming into Porthmeor, from around Man's Head was a particular highlight. He was a little sponge, soaking up all he saw and all he heard.
Of course these walks petered out eventually, and there came a time when he could hardly be prevailed to go on a walk at all. And all of his chuldhood worries and fears were replaced by the teenage angst that is familiar to us all. Any number of fears about fitting in, and looking the part. I guess you could call them the very 'normal' traumas of growing from boy to teen to man. But they were still as hard to witness. And his Dad and I tried to our best to help, in that ludicrously ham fisted way of ours.
And then he was gone. Up the line and away to the North. His visit home this Easter has been punctuated by his conflicted desires of home versus away. I don't mind. I felt the same when I moved away. Away was so much better. Away was more fun. Away meant your rules, as opposed to your parent's rules. I have so wanted to spend a little quality time with him. But he has been rather distant. Too busy. Too involved in keeping in touch with the friends that he has made. He has secured a job for the summer holidays, and is making plans for his return to Liverpool at the weekend.
But yesterday, I asked if he'd like to go for a walk with me after tea. A well trod route; up Burthallan Lane, down to Clodgy Point, past Porthmeor Brach and into town. He ummed and aahed, but then said he would. And so off we set. Chatting about this and that, although I found I was probably chatting the most. Compensating for his quiet solitude I guess. Sam can be a chatter box, but he's also quite a reserved young chap, and doesn't gab on for the sake of it. I found myself playing the 'remember when' game with him, and he warmed to the theme. He mentioned things that I had forgotten. We laughed about this and that. We talked a little politics and current affairs. We stood and watched the sea.
I thought to myself how much he has grown. He's only been away for a few months, and yet he has matured so in just that short space of time. He can still be a total pain the arse. He tries to parent Olly far more than I would like him to. He can be demanding in that way peculiar to the eldest child. But he is also such a nice lad. Thoughtful, wise and displaying a kind of Big Bang Theory charm, that cracks me up. I think that Sam will never come home in any real capacity. His life is already elsewhere, and I think that it will remain so. City life suits him far more than small town living ever will. I think it fits him better. But I know that he loves the part of the world that he was brought up in. That it has played a part in defining and shaping the young man that he has become.
The main thing was to spend a little time with him. Just me and him together, walking side by side. I may not get to do it again for a long time.
It was a rather lovely walk.
Thank you all so much for your kind words and encouragement about my taking up writing. You'll be pleased to hear that I have started scribbling in earnest. Not for any higher plain than my own pleasure. But very satisfying it has been. In the quiet of the evening, I sit at the dining table and tap, tap, tap. It is amazing what springs forth when you have a mind to do something.