Monday, October 26, 2015

Budge up!

Annette and I were never naive enough to imagine that being a parent stopped when the fledglings left home. But, since the nest emptied a few years ago, we have become rather accustomed to 'home' being a somewhat tranquil refuge to which we can both retreat at the end of a busy day or week.

That tranquility was interrupted at the beginning of this year when our son needed a roof over his head while he finished his nursing degree. Next weekend our youngest daughter joins him as the tenancy on her flat has come to an end and a replacement is not available. And so we find ourselves having to squeeze up our 'spread-outedness' as we loose our last 'spare' room. (Please don't ask to come and stay for a while - unless the floor will do.)

No, being a parent doesn't end when they leave home and, being a parent still comes with responsibilities. So, we squeeze up and make room, not only in a physical sense but in a relational sense too; for these returning children are not the same as those that left a few years back. They return with a maturity that they didn't possess before (and some lingering immaturity that we wish they had lost). They return with new habits and traits born of their recent freedom. Their expectations are different and have a validity that often challenges our own. There is a lot of making room to be done.

So, the cars are out of the garage. The garage is now 'storage' and the oldies must remember not to walk about the house in their underwear in the mornings. So much for 'retirement' :-)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The more things change ...

Sometimes I look back and marvel at the way things have changed in my lifetime. Take mobile phones for example - they have woven themselves into the fabric of how we do life. With a short text message, we can tell others why we aren't where we were supposed to be or arrange an impromptu meet-up across the other side of town. As a result, our social arrangements have become more spontaneous and tentative in a way that would have been unimaginable half my life ago. I like it.

So, there we were having lunch when Annette says, "why don't we check out a Suzuki Splash while we are in town?". So, I pull up Trademe on the phone and sift through the list of Splashes for sale. "Here's one that looks interesting," I say, showing her the pictures of a low mileage metallic black Splash. "Let's go and look," she says, so off we trot to the car yard.

This is the point where I complete the title with "... the more they stay the same." Second-hand car salesmen. Yes, they are nearly all still 'men' and they are just the same type of men as they have always been; jovial, instantly friendly, ready to rattle off the exemplary merits of  any car you happen to be looking at, all the while assuring you that it will be perfect for your needs and the price is the keenest it's ever been. We will, of course, be lucky if the car is still on the lot after the weekend - even though I've seen it listed for at least two weeks now!

It's been quite a few years since I last danced the car-yard tango and today it just fills me with amusement at its predictability. I'm not going to play or try to trip the guy up; it's not sporting and, in any case, I quite like this young chap doing his car salesman spiel with a broad Mancunian accent in a car yard half a world away from his birthplace.

The car checks out and we return to talk about a trade. He makes a call on his mobile and, without seeing the trade, offers me a price that sounds fair. We shake (yes, they still do that) and the deal is done.

For all the changes I've seen in this wonderful, wild, world that we live in, some things really do remain the same, like second-hand car salesmen and the excitement of getting a new set of wheels.