I’m not at all sure where to start but wanted to say that I’m still here and things are happening.
Trip to England
We went to England for the Christmas holiday period. Freya went in mid-December and travelled up to her grandparents then came with them to the cottage to meet us. Mat and I arrived on December 23. We had Christmas at the cottage (picture old English farmhouse, not what Canadians would call a cottage) with family and then they all cleared out and we had New Year with friends. In between we went to Bristol for a day to visit other friends.
Freya’s friend Rachel joined us on the 27th, so the 2 of them got to spend almost 2 full weeks together. They are the kind of friends who can do that. They will go off and be alone when necessary without either of them feeling slighted. Fantastic.
Mat came home on the 2nd and Freya and I stayed. She went to Birmingham with Rachel and did various BFF things including going to school with her for 2 days. I met up with other friends of mine in London and Nottingham before arriving in Birmingham.
It was a good trip. Lots of sitting around knitting, chatting, doing jigsaws, drinking beer, eating good food, etc. A proper rest. Catching up with friends. Great family get togethers.
Our trip was extended a bit when we discovered (as we were about to leave for the airport) that Freya didn’t have her passport. There was some panic. I did not shout or insult her intelligence or any other behaviour that I would regret. We all remained pretty calm.
I changed the flights before we actually missed our plane. I woke up way too many people too early on a Saturday morning (and, due to the time change, the middle of the night for Mat back at home). The passport was eventually located at the cottage on the floor of a bedroom.
Freya is a very capable and independent kid. She has travelled to the UK on her own before. She went on her own this time and got herself from London to the Lake District alone, too. Her uncle met her at Heathrow and took her to the station but that felt like just a little extra support. (And they got to hang out together a bit.)
I didn’t ask her about the passport until we were headed to the airport. I really wasn’t worried. And she had kept it with her until she got to somewhere we were joining her. It seems that as soon as I was around, she reverted to being a kid who doesn’t have to look after herself. This is understandable. She is only 14.
Here’s the important point for other parents: she didn’t tell me she was abdicating responsibility. Nor did she hand over the important documents and ask me too look after them. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you might want to ask your teen if they want you to look after the important documents now that they are with you. (I suspect this will get you an eye roll and protestations of how capable they are but it gives them a chance to recognize who has responsibility.)
When I rebooked the flights I did not know whether we would find the passport. So I booked them for Tuesday in case we had to spend Monday in London getting her passport replaced. Since we did find it we got a bonus day.
My friend Liz was kind enough to let us stay until Tuesday but they were all back at work and school and I felt like I’d been under her feet long enough. So I booked a cheap hotel in London and a train ticket down there for Sunday afternoon.
We spent all day Monday in art galleries. We started at the Tate Britain, arriving at opening time. We had a break around 11:30, and then had lunch at 12:30. Freya had had enough so we decided to walk along the river and up to Trafalgar Square (past the houses of parliament, Westminster Abbey, etc.).
Does anyone know why there is a statue of Abraham Lincoln outside the judicial offices of the privy council in Parliament Square?
It was a really nice day and not raining for a change. We got to Trafalgar Square about 2 and went into the Costa Coffee in Waterstones for coffee and cake. And internet. I also managed to connect with another friend’s son and arranged to meet him at the National Gallery as soon as he could get there (3:30ish).
So we spent more time in a gallery, after having a look at the books, obviously. We had a good look at the impressionists and then looked around at some other stuff. I got to chat to Joe (who I’ve known since he was about a year old; he’s now in his 20s), and then he had to go off to work. Mat’s brother met us at 6 outside and we went for dinner. Also nice.
We didn’t talk a lot about the art we saw but Freya did make notes in her iPod Touch of paintings she liked and I suspect that this will mull and come up again at some future point. After the Chagall experience I’m learning to trust that this will happen.
She does seem to be reaching saturation on the impressionists. She knows a lot about them and has seen a lot of their work in France and the Netherlands. And she seems to be developing an interest in modern art, or at least 20th century art. We’ll see what happens.