Monthly Archives: November 2010


There is a volcano in my toilet.
No, I have not got an upset tummy – nor has the Smudgelet – and we have not relocated to Pompeii. There’s not even a reason to call Dinorod. But there is a volcano in my toilet.

Building a volcano out of papier mache was a great idea. It was the Smudgelet’s half term homework. Funny how having your hands in a bucket full of mashed up newspaper and wallpaper paste can bring back such vivid memories of being in primary school nearly forty years ago – the smell and tactile sensation transported me back so vividly that I could even remember where I was situated in the classroom and who my classmates were at the time when we made our giant papier-mache island. But amongst the other things I remembered was what an eternity it seemed waiting for it to dry out so we could paint it.

The toilet is the warmest room in the flat. If the Smudgelet had told me at the BEGINNING of the holidays that he needed to build a papiermache volcano, it might have been ready in time, but rushing a volcano is no joke. The massive sodden mountain, smelling of wallpaper paste and looking like something you really don’t want to think about, is taking for ever to dry. Just like that island did all those years ago. Funny to think of this being a memory that the Smudgelet will recall when making things with his kids in years to come.

When….. if….. it does ever dry out, the plan is to stand a bottle of diet coke inside it and drop a mint in. Apparently it should be quite spectacular. Apparently there are some amazing videos of the same experiment on You-tube. I can’t bring myself to look. Two days (and nights) of shredding paper, soaking paper, mulching paper, modelling with paper, struggling to get the stodgy mess of gunge and black ink from under fingernails…. several weeks of negotiating a drying mountain in the loo…. all destroyed in a single burst of cocacola bubbles.

A strange sort of limbo

Although blogging has its limitations as a record of events, it’s quite useful to look back at some of my posts from the past as an emotional diary of pseudo-losing a son, the false bereavement without the closure of a funeral. And so, as I move into a new stage of that strange limbo-like state, it is helpful to muse on it here. Thank you for your patience in this moment of self-indulgence.

Last month my eldest son turned eighteen. A time of mixed emotions for any parent. The emphasis was intensified by my friend’s son turning eighteen at about the same time – a lad my son has never met and in all likelihood never will. It’s a joke really, the idea of turning from child to adult overnight, just like when the Smudgelet turned into a teenager on the night of his thirteenth birthday. But this coming of age was a strange one.

I sent no card, just a letter. Hours of standing in card shops searching for the right card was just too difficult. My son turns eighteen and I feel no desire to celebrate. No parties. No “first pint” (an odd thought for a teetotal-or-almosttotal mother). No “key of the door”. Not even a card.

The eighteenth birthday is significant in the prison setting as a child magically does become an adult overnight there. From the moment he turned eighteen he could be moved into the “adult estate”, as they call it, at any moment with just fifteen minutes’ notice and without even definitely knowing, as he climbs into the van after emptying his cell, where he is being moved to. So from the moment he turned eighteen, I had no idea whether he had moved or not… not until I was contacted by the Youth Offending Team to let me know.

From the moment he turned eighteen, I no longer had any automatic involvement in his life. I will no longer be invited to reviews unless he asks for me to be there. Probation will no longer keep me informed of how he’s doing or what’s happening with him unless he actively requests it. I can sit here and wait until he writes to me to tell me how to contact him. Maybe he’ll send a visiting order – who knows?

Eighteen. Maybe he wouldn’t have been coming home for Christmas anyway. I can certainly imagine he could have been causing me plenty of worry were he here. But at least I’d maybe know him. My son is becoming a man and I won’t even really know him.

Please remember all birth mothers whose children are adopted. I guess it must feel something like that for them too. A strange sort of limbo.

It’s about bloomin’ time…

… that I added to this blog.

Having lost my voice – at least spasmodically – it is my one form of communication today. What do you reckon to a boss who greets the announcement that one is verbally incapacitated with the words “Oh, good!” ? I suppose it serves me right for mocking my poor Smudgelet when his voice does the teenage-boy trick of changing pitch mid-sentence. I sound as though my voice is breaking too… when I have a voice at all. Good job it’s my day off today and I can lounge around in silence

and add a blog or two.