Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Going onward

Time moves on and the Ploughboy has departed to plough his own deep furrow in pastures new. The groves of academe beckon, and we have deposited him in a city of not quite dreaming spires far away.

I gave him a quiet talk before he went, explaining the perils of the tumble dryer (as we are not possessed of such technological marvels), and he agreed with me that it is a Good Thing to have a slack mother, because it means that he is familiar with the workings of a washing machine, has been making his own bed (or not, as the case may be) for many years now, and is quite at ease with the concept that dirty clothes will gradually mount up on the floor, and dust accumulate on horizontal surfaces of all kinds, unless he chooses to make a personal intervention in the matter.

From now on his stays with us will be only temporary; his room has become a mere staging post and lacks its former air of permanence. I suppose I have had time to become accustomed to this as it has been a gradual process over the last year since he left school; he has travelled to Europe and the Antipodes (yes, I sobbed at his departure), and though nominally at home this summer, the long hours of farm work have meant that he has been absent more than present.

In many ways the house now seems oddly empty after so many years of constant cacophony: the General is merely biding his time before spreading his wings, and ventures down from his eyrie only for culinary sustenance. On many occasions over the past few months our loud and noisy family seems to have shrunk to just a shadow of its former bouncing self, now consisting of little Princess Bunchy and her aged parents.

And what am I going to miss particularly about the Ploughboy? I think, on reflection, it will mainly be socks.

This is a boy whose Ipod sock is exactly that  - an old sock. (And please don't tell me to knit him one: to my darling sons, expressing a desire to knit them something is perceived as a threat, not an act of affection. When I asked the Ploughboy a couple of years ago if there were anything he would like me to make him for Christmas, he replied, "Well, you could knit me an Ipod." Not an Ipod sock.)

The Ploughboy's presence in the house is signified by a trail of discarded socks in the oddest of places. These are sometimes accompanied by grubby sweatshirts, or mud-caked rucksacks.

And if you pick this debris up to move it to a place where it constitutes less of a trip hazard, then it usually emits small pieces of straw, or possibly hop petals, or maybe even a shower of heavy-duty agricultural dust.

Then, of course, there are also the muddy handmarks on the towels, but they were even less photogenic than the socks. And his habit of sitting very untidily on the sofa (I know he does this by the squashed and rearranged cushions, the crumpled sofa throw, and the discarded buttons lying askew.)

There are the work shorts which remain hanging on the line for day after day, until suddenly they are needed again.

 And at least I won't be woken up at 6.30am by the roar of the tractor starting up. But then again, I won't hear that low rumble approaching across the orchard, signifying the Ploughboy's return at the end of the day.

It seems only yesterday that the Ploughboy's presence was marked by tractors marching across the sitting room floor, and earthworks in the flower beds - now his toys are bigger, and the games are much the same, but they are undertaken farther afield. (I will send a small prize to the first person who tells me what this toy is! EDIT: Guessed correctly by Poppy Cottage - it is a pheasant feeder.)

But I still have farm machinery ploughing up the matting, and combine harvesters parked up under the chair. Princess Bunchy's pastimes demonstrate a penchant for things agricultural, just like her big brother.

The Ploughboy's furry friend also shows herself well capable of continuing the family tradition of excavating the garden, although she prefers to fill the holes with nice chewy wood, rather than Brittans farm machinery.

So there is some consolation for me.

And as a consolation for you with your hands full of recalcitrant toddlers, and children who show an aversion for the written word, and an unwillingness to sit behind a desk and concentrate - this big boy was once just the same. Once I tore my hair out at his contrary ways, and battled with him over Biff and Chip, and listened to a teacher complain to me that he sat in her lessons and made tractor noises while she spoke.

But it all turned out all right in the end, as I am sure that it will for you: he passed the important exams with flying colours, found his vocation (which, as we had always suspected it would, involves tractors), and has set off eagerly into the big, wide world.

So treasure those little people whilst they are with you, revel in that little hand nestled in yours, for the years roll on, all too fast; the little people become larger, and stride off into the future with barely a backward glance.


Yvonne said...

A lovely ode to your son... I'm sure they manage far better than we imagine they will without us!! I too remember the battles with Biff and Chip.. there were always far more important things to do than learn to read.. in my sons case.. lego!
I hope that you are feeling a little better now.
Love Yvoone xx

marigold jam said...

I am sure he will be fine and that you will gradually come to enjoy the extra space in your home and perhaps more especially the lack of dirty socks everywhere! People used to tell me they grow up too fast when mine was in the pram and I didn't believe them but it's true and if they are independent and capable then we have done our job well. I think I might have done my job too well as mine isn't at all interested in coming back to see us even though we are now only a couple of hours away and not an hours' flight! But that's another story.

Jane x

whoatemycrayons said...

I for one, love the fact that in the sock universe law, they may start out as a pair, but always end up single, alone and quite pathetic looking. Bless. Oh and best of luck Ploughboy!

Lola Nova said...

Your writing is wonderful!
My daughter is 4 and already the time seems to be speeding by.

Your knitted blanket is so sweet!

Floss said...

Hello Pomona,

This is Mr. Floss here - the toy is a self-propelled forage harvester (or model thereof) of the kind used for harvesting maize for silage. I grew up on a farm and had Brittan's toys as well! Although in my day the tractors were smaller and self-propelled harvesters didn't exist.

As someone who used to teach Agrics/Hortics in the frozen North I could recount all sorts of parent-alarming-anecdots. But I'm sure you'd rather be re-assured that most of the students I knew came away with maturity, memories and matriculation in roughly equal measure.


Pomona said...

No, that one was too easy - I meant the one below the writing (on legs)1 Do you know what that one is?

Pomona x

Mrs B said...

oh I shed a tear.....I can empathise and MasterB is only three, but he is going to nursery school and I am a little sad! silly isn't it!? But think of all the times as a family still to come....x

Tabiboo said...

'Oh my' I nearly boo, hooed when I read this as I know you are so true.

I spend most of my days pulling my hair out over my nine year olds ways and finding his funny little doodles and drawings where ever I look - maybe art college one day, but hopefully not too soon.

take care and lots of warm wishes to your Ploughboy and all his new adventures.

Nina x

ps. we must organise that tea and crochet session sometime or maybe just tea and cake. N xox

Anonymous said...

Hi Pomona,

What a lovely post :-) I can imagine it must be strange not to have him around so much! I have been battling with how strange it is not to have Rianna here now she has started school!

Have a great week :-)

Rose XXX

Karen L R said...

Pomona, how I do wish we were neighbors!

Shirleyanne said...

Aah...Good Luck to your Son!
My daughter left home 2 years ago.
Quite a transition but now use to it.
Good you have your hobbies, it will help!

Kind Regards

Michela said...

Great post..& great Mum!
Good luck to the Ploughboy!

Serenata said...

What a lovely post, and you are so right they do grow up ever so quickly. As to those socks - we even find them all around the garden, although it is the younger one who does that, I think he flings them off when he is on the trampolene.

Sew Scrumptious said...

Made me want to cry and go hug my one year old boy. My children are NEVER allowed to leave home!! Sure he will have a fab time at college tho and be back more than you imagine prob with friends in tow! x

Menopausal musing said...

That was a beautifully written "send off" to Ploughboy. I have just spent an evening at work trying to solve "one sock syndrome". (Five children and two adults).......... I sometimes feel that amongst the three boys its a case of "first up gets the socks"............... I hope you realise that half of Britain has probably clicked on the photo of the blue container on legs....... I was thinking along the lines of butter churning, but it doesn't look as if it rotates on an axis and also you wouldnt want butter to take on the taste of chutney...... so..... I a stumped. Harumph!!!!! :O)

Anonymous said...

You've recorded this moment in such a lovely way. I agree completely with your last lines about treasuring the little ones, they are precious times.

A Bun Can Dance said...

Ah, this is so lovely, it made me feel quite emotional. Your Ploughboy is just like my brother was years ago, and now his son is just the same. Having grown up surrounded by farming, I'm all in favour of your son's chosen career! How strange it is for you now to have so much quiet space- but how wonderful the home visits will be (even the dirty socks - especially the dirty socks!).
Thank you for your comment today. I think my dreaming of overlong sleeves is heavily influenced by the new Toast catalogue.... aaah how to find such things secondhand?!
D x

Melodie said...

Oh my,this made me want to cry!My farm boy is 12 and all ready talks of what he is going to do when he is grown and of leaving home someday.I know this is how it should be but...I don't want him to go!

...Miss...Maddie's... said...

This post has all the symptoms of my past week... for just like you I traveled on a cross country trek with my daughter to help her relocate to a new home a mere 2000 miles away.(my only child although she is no longer one)
Just remember though that no matter how far his travels may take him, you shared a heartbeat before he was born and you will carry him in your heart forever.

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

Of course, I have enjoyed this lovely post but what's really grabbing my attention is the seemingly simple question 'what is it?'

Like Cathy I first thought it was a butter churn but discounted that thought for the same reason, plus, a butter churn would normally be found inside a cool room. The mystery object looks as though it makes use of heat and gravity. Could it be a home-made wormery or composter?

Hope someone guesses soon. BFN. Lesley

Poppy Cottage said...

Jasper turned 14 yesterday, and at the weekend was picked to play Rugby for Dorset. I too agree that they row up so fast, My little boy has turned into this strapping lad with hopes and dreams. I wish your son the best of luck in the new section of his life. I am sure that he will be fine, you are a very luck Mum, as I am sure your children will agree, they are very lucky to have you as their Mum.

Take care.

andamento said...

"So treasure those little people whilst they are with you, revel in that little hand nestled in yours, for the years roll on, all too fast; the little people become larger, and stride off into the future with barely a backward glance."

Very true, lovely reminder. Hope the Ploughboy enjoys himself (though perhaps not too much!)

Polka Dot Daze said...

Thanks for sharing that! What a lovely read.

Pipany said...

Oh I sooo know this one Pomona. Having kids from 26 through to 3 I spend half my life desperate for a break and bemoaning the fact that the older ones are on their way! Beautiful post x

heidi said...

love the last pic your grown up plough boy & his best friend by his side! lovely post with great humour as usual pomona. the work shorts on the line made me smile reminded me of mr h's work shorts!!could the grown up toy be a big boys plough instead of a dinky one?

Gina said...

A beautiful post. I have sons at home, in transition and moved away so identified with much of what you wrote. I remember the struggles with Biff and Chip too!

Shropshire Suz said...

Hi Pomona....ooh another takes off into the wild blue yonder..thinking of you
Some great special times to come...when they come home to visit though
Only a few more days with my baby before he takes off again and no idea when l'll get him back again boo hoo

jennyflower said...

Not a dry eye here, although mine are so far off leaving, I can feel the sand slpping through my fingers. If you need any company just ask. xx

Elizabethd said...

Been there...etc. With one living in Australia and one in Canada, it's been hard. But I love the fact that they grew up so independent.

BusyLizzie said...

Lovely blog.. wonderful photos & words.. and a true portrait of country boys!!! Lizzie

Domestic Rebel said...

What a gorgeous last paragraph. I hereby resolve to spend all day tomorrow holding my daughter's hand and not letting go, staring into her eyes and generally being a bit clingy. She's 1 next week and I already feel like it's slipping away...!

alice c said...

I am on the same page as you but have discovered that the phone has been ringing more than I expected. It is so good to hear his voice - and there is normally the sound of laughter somewhere in the background which I take to be a good thing. The house is un-nervingly tidy and quiet...

Bobo Bun said...

So poignant Pomona. Hope your're ok. Before you have children you really cannot conceive the depth of the love can you.

There are so many small steps they take towards the point where they finally go. We've reached the walking ahead and into school without a backward glance(9 yr old) and unsure if she should hold my hand on the way in (7yr old), but if she doesn't worries she'll hurt my feelings. All slowly slowly and then I'm sure it feels as if its rushed by.

Take care.

Lisa x

Toni Brockliss said...

Your writing is so good and your blog....oh my. I love it here.
I am so looking forward to getting to know you through Tif's challenge and from my visits to your lovely space.

jus said...

How funny, I've just found your blog and we seem to be having an identical big boy epiphany. I also have an identical pair of shorts on my line, extraordinary! x

Kate said...

Oh what a great post it bought back all the memories of when my eldest son moved out 2 years ago, so sad for us but so exciting for them. I still have 3 boys at home but the next one will be going to uni next year and then I'll just be left with my twins of 13, I really try to make the most of them because they never stop being your babies.
Have a great day

Catherine said...

Is he making beer?!! Wild guess here!!

Pomona said...

Sorry, no, but I am sure he would like to!

Pomona x

Surfer Rosa said...

This made me all teary. You write so beautifully. Whilst my son won't be off into the wider world just yet I can already feel him moving in that direction, becoming independent at a rapid rate and tugging on my instinct to hold on but knowing I have to let go more and more.
The toy is a bit baffling hmmm is it a weather station?

Jennifer Montero said...

Hi Pomona -

I totally read that caption wrong - I though it referred to the toy combine harvester (I think it's a combine - my knowledge of specialty machinery is limited to what I can drive). Are you feeding the pheasants or is it for chickens?

I will try and ripen some of those tomatoes, alas no AGA for help, but a banana in a warm cupboard may do it. I always feel mean throwing away the green ones. Don't tell the DH you can feed them to pigs, he's already on about getting some ASAP, I'm trying to put him off til spring.

:-) Jen

Sarah said...

Quick grab those jeans and make a bag out of them!! All I see is potential when I flicked through these photos. Naughty.

Barbara said...

This was a fun and good post. When the mess is driving us nuts we do not realise just how much we will miss it and them when the time comes.

Indigo Blue said...

This post made me smile, especially the pics of the shorts etc. Very well modelled by the way. We have been thinking hard here and we reckon the picture is of a forage harvester with a kemper header for harvesting maize for silage! Hope we are not too late to take part.


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