View through my window

May 17, 2006

Umbrella

I go to fetch Child One from school. This involves a five mile trog through the lanes to one of the local market towns, where I wait with all the other parents at the parking area in a park, waiting for the red-clad tide to sweep out of the distant gate and across the grass. It's a twice-daily chore that we share with another family from the village.

The weather is fine when I leave. Inevitably, by the time I get to the park, it's raining. Not disasterously hard, but persistantly and irritatingly. I lurk in the steaming-up car for as long as I can, until I catch sight in the mirror of the first red-jumpered child meeting a parent. I know I am safe until at least now, because neither Child One nor his mate are the keenest, most efficient children and will never be the first out.

Hunching my shoulders against the rain, I get out to go over to the field to meet the boys. (I find that hunching my shoulders against the rain is entirely ineffective, but I do it anyway. According to my observations, so does everyone else, and it doesn't work for them either. Something we could evolve out of doing, I think). And then, and then, I catch sight of it. Sitting in the boot of the car. A many-coloured, many-spendoured thing.

My umbrella.

A triumph of hue in red, blue, green and yellow fabric. An elegantly engineered steel-ribbed contraption which will, today, be the saving of both my hairstyle* and dignity.

I erect it proudly over my head. (Never thought I'd be able to say that without improbable boasting). And if you're waiting for the almost-inevitable 'and then it collapsed, soaking me with freezing rainwater and everyone laughed at me', then you're going to be disappointed. No, today, it performed precisely the function for which it was required.

The rain got harder, but I was invulnerable. It's a good-sized brolly, and even the occasional gust of wind didn't allow the rain to blow under too badly. There's something quite marvelous about standing in a heavy rainstorm in just a teeshirt and jeans, soundly protected by a trusty brolly. All of a sudden, I was transported back to teenage camping holidays, me and some good mates down in the south of France, me lying on my stomach in my sleeping bag in my own little ridge tent, CD on**, coffee brewing on the gas stove in the porch, door halfway unzipped, with the mother of all thunderstorms going on no more than eighteen inches from my face: a vertical curtain of water flooding off the flysheet but not getting in, not disturbing my own warm, dry little world. I might even have to use the word 'cosy'; not something I do lightly. That is a sense of security which you seldom find again: I'm safe, I'm warm, I'm protected, nothing can harm me, I am not going to be bored, I can look forward to enjoying a couple of mugs of French filter coffee and reading a trashy novel, and for once I haven't left the milk and sugar outside, so there is nothing to spoil this. I am on the threshold of manhood, I am coping in a foreign country by myself, I don't need anyone's help because I am OK. I bet we all wish we could get back to that, sometimes.

Child Two eventually arrived. He had a waterproof coat with him, but typically wasn't wearing it. Never mind, though, for my trusty brolly was big enough for both of us.


*don't go thinking that I have a dodgy haircut. I still have all my hair and despite my GOM status I do mess it up a bit with some gel in the mornings. It stings a bit when the rain gets it into your eyes.
**or, considering the distance back into my memory, more likely 'cassette on'.

5 Comments:

  • what I don't get, is why you turn a certain age and reach a status of GOMness, that if you maintain for the next 40 years might

    just might

    be a little miserable, for those around you. . .

    (you seem as chirpy as ever from here!)

    what I would like to get, however

    is one of those brollies: mine does that collasping inside out on me manoeuvre, whilst turning upside down with the slightest gust of wind, poking the eyeball out of the parent standing next to me in the pick-up crowd

    By Blogger I, like the view, at 5:22 pm  

  • such a nice stage isnt' it? the children still need you for all sorts of things!

    By Blogger Kyahgirl, at 10:36 pm  

  • I find that GOMmity is usually amusing, in a cynical sort of way, for a while at least. As long as I don't overdo it. And I can't wait for my children to be a bit more independent. Though then I'll just be worrying where they are.

    By Blogger crisiswhatcrisis, at 9:59 am  

  • one of mine has hit independence BIG TIME

    which is fine when he goes off and does his own thing, altho that brings its own worries (like where he is, as you have so correctly surmised); and I guess fine when he argues back and shows a (huge) degree of independent thinking. . .

    altho that brings its own worries. . .

    (but, strangely makes his moments of affection more meaningful!)

    and the other two walk to school together without me some days now (but I always collect them) which doesn't worry me in the least (apart from when I worry about traffic and child-snatchers and the like and my general level of laziness v their need for independence)(ok, so it does worry me, but I try not to worry about that)

    I'll shut up now

    oh how fab, word ver: trembles (presumably at-thought-of-all-the-things-a-parent-could-worry-about-in-the-modern-age)

    By Blogger I, like the view, at 4:31 pm  

  • Don't wish for the indepndence bit. It's horrible.
    Personally I wish they could go from 10 to grown up overnight and we'll forgo the bit in the middle if possible.
    Much nicer for everyone.
    And then there's all those bloody exams too....

    By Blogger the Beep, at 12:03 pm  

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