Where childhood ends…

Today, I have suffered injustice. I now know what it means to be left out, scorned and treated like a second class citizen because of something I have no control over. I feel hurt, hurt by the unfairness of it all.

Since when were teenagers not allowed into the playground without an accompanying younger child? What is this nonsense?

I queued for twenty minutes outside the Princess Diana memorial playground in Hyde Park only to be turned away. Twenty minutes of my life wasted and my childhood ripped away. Not that many years ago, I would climb to the top of the pirate ship, hide in the red-indian tepees and hunt for the closed treasure chest in that playground but today, I was too old.

When it comes to voting, I am a child but all this changes at the playground gates. Why is that?

The ducks didn’t think I was too old for a chat. They understand the insignificance of age better than any human authority.

The irony of it is that I was turned away from a Peter Pan themed playground for being too grown-up.

Peter Pan

“If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!”

I should have grabbed a few kids from the queue and gone in with them, or claimed to be younger than I am. I should have complained and made a big fuss. I should have never grown up.

Are you ever too old to play? Have you ever been turned away?

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The End

Today marks an end. A chapter in my life has closed and as much as I would like to put a bookmark in it, nothing can stop natural progression. I’ll miss that old chapter, and I’ll remember the general contents, although the exact words may evade me. My favourite characters will be remembered fondly and may be carried on with me to the next chapter and others will die as an idea within those pages but all will have an impact on the rest of the book; my life.

Analogy over and done with, let me return to the basics. Today was my last day of school. I have been in this school for five years. Five years are a long time. I will return only for exams that will end in mid-June. I will see my classmates only in states of nervousness and then we will depart onto bigger things, farther apart.

It seems strange that I won’t be waking up at 6.45 each morning to wear the same uniform to take the same journey to get to the same school, as I have done for the past five years. I’m glad to be finished but also sad. I didn’t realise how much I loved my school until I was leaving it, how much the teachers cared and how the students weren’t all that bad after all (most of them).

I’m not going to get all emotional in text, I was incapable of shedding a tear today. So, as everyone was bawling, even the known sociopath, I was taking pictures of their teary moments. We showed the entire school a video montage of out time, gave small speeches and left the teachers with one last surprise. Ellen’s Dance Dares!

If this new phenomena has not yet trended near you (Antarctica?), the rules of the game are simple: sneak up behind people, dance, don’t get caught and catch it on camera. Being the daredevil I am, I got behind two teachers and busted a few moves, and being the darling angel I am, they did not see it coming. The result was a hilarious collection of unsuspecting teachers going about their normal, daily routines and a band of sneaky, hoodied-up leavers waving, bopping, shaking and anything else that would classify as dancing. Unfortunately, we failed to get the headteacher. She was never around when the camera was out, or perhaps she was watching us on CCTV and knew to stay away.

It hasn’t really hit me yet that I am leaving. I still remember being in my first year and watching the year’s leavers say their goodbyes, thinking that they were so lucky to go and that I still had ages left before being set free. I did that every single year for four years and now it is my turn, but, I just feel like holding onto the chains, even as they loosen to let me go. I really am going to miss my school.

If I’m not going to cry, the least I can do is write to express what sadness I must be feeling. I know I am sad, I just don’t feel sad. I say I’m sad. I just don’t feel sad. It must be because I know I’m not really leaving. I shall, not by choice, be popping round for exams from time to time and then, any feelings of sorrow will be overshadowed by nervousness and panic. Even then, I’ll still pass by every once in a while. I hope.

*Exams coming up. I might have to use my computer for more productive activities. Pray I do well. The future of many mentally unstable people depend on it.

Time Will Fly.

It always does. When you want everything to slow down so that you can just take a moment to breathe, that breath is your last one before time is up. Only yesterday you calculated that you had a month left, today it has miraculously reduced to two weeks and tomorrow it will only be a few hours. Why does time do that ? It should stick to the rules. I can’t keep up with it because as soon as I get close it speeds up and as soon as I try to manage it, it rattles about like a caged bird until I have no option but to release it and give up.

Three weeks left. Then, I will be finished in the school that I have been a part of for the last five years. Then, before I can blink, I will be faced with four weeks of exams, I will go to a new school, I will go to university, I will grow up, get married, have kids and die. That’s how much I think that time will fly. Whilst I am living through it, there may be moments where I am bored and feel like time is dragging along but I am sure that when I am older and look back at this post, this moment in time, I will have to agree with my broody younger self.

Is 24 hours the same everywhere? Do people in Australia have a different 24 hours than people here in the UK? What about in space? What about a thousand years ago? What about in a thousand years time? I think 24 hours felt longer when I was younger, when I had less things to do and to worry about. It will probably feel that way again when I am retired, and I am finished doing and worrying about things. Until then, 24 hours feels much too short.

My Life In a Box

Everyone’s got one and if you haven’t, now is a good a time as any. It’s a box, that is bigger on the inside but not in a science-fiction (Doctor Who!), kind of way, as it holds random objects that string together to tell your entire life story. They may be things that do not make sense to anybody else, like an inconsequential pencil, or they may be pretty self-explanatory, like a photograph, but every single item is a part of what makes you the person you are.

For a long time I’ve had a few objects lying around, waiting to be boxed, like sentimental treasure in a chest and today, whilst shopping in the jovial mood of the holiday season, I found what I was looking for. Ready-made and with no need to cut, paste or paint, it is the perfect vessel for my relatively short history and as I grow older and things start to speed up, I would like to be able to take a moment to sit down and escape into years past, compressed into long minutes.

To date, and in no particular order, my box includes:

  • A Barbie photo album that was given to me by a classmate when I was seven years old, as a going away gift after a year-long experience, living in Algeria. I can’t remember the girl but I have a whole class photograph in the first pocket and I know that she is in it. Forty children with the their arms neatly crossed, wearing school aprons, accompanied by a strict looking teacher who would shout at them daily, striking with her menacing cane.
  • A battered copy of “Adventures of the Wishing-Chair By Enid Blyton“. It was probably bought at a car-boot sale, it smells old and the pages are browning but that is only a sign that it has been used and loved.
  • An old retainer that is surprisingly odour-free in a small, neon orange box and a mold of my top jaw. Until last year, ever since the loss of my beautiful milk teeth, I had been cursed with the most crooked and crowded set of teeth unimaginable. Fortunately, thanks to years of NHS dental care, I can now smile with confidence although I still have to sleep with a set of see-through retainers.
  • A leopard print mask that my mum made me for our school sleepover by sticking a piece of felt on a plain mask. It looks a bit like a sleeping mask but all the girls loved it and thought that my mum was a crafty genius.
  • A folder full of certificates: academic awards, leadership course, BBC school report, contributions and three medals for collecting house-points. The one I most proud of and which I received three days ago is a Thank You certificate from Save the Children for fundraising. It was a class project; there are only seventeen of us and yet we managed to raise over £10,000, through a lot of hard work and pestering.
  • My very first passport. I must be a new-born in the picture as I was about two weeks old when I first travelled in an aeroplane.
  • A poem, entitled: Rhyming isn’t so bad. I don’t recall ever writing it and the handwriting is a bit different from my own, but it does seem familiar. I can imagine a 9-year old Yasmine proudly reciting it to anyone who would care to hear.
  • A small note from a Mexican woman called Diana, who stayed with us a few weeks. My mum met her through the internet and despite my fears that she would be an axe-murderer who would butcher me in my sleep, she was lovely and we had a great time showing her around London.
  • Two birthday cards from the same school friend, for the same birthday. One is homemade and the other is shop bought with the image of a monkey. They’re addressed Aphrodite, which is a name she sometimes calls me after a book character.
  • A Thank You card signed by every one I met during my work experience at a solicitors’ firm and the I.D card I wore.
  • Year 6 school report
  • 2005 class photo
  • Card paper, with the typed text, “my name is Yasmine- this is a picture of me”. Underneath, in a messy lopsided scrawl, is my younger self’s attempt and an unflattering drawing with no nose, jazz hands and a triangular-shaped body. According to my laid back mother, she was a pushy parent when I was little and I was sent off to nursery already being able to read off flashcards much to the teachers’ dismay.

My blog, as you can see by the links, is like my box. Many items, lead to a blog post and if I look back at it, I start to remember past events. However, in case of the unlikely demise of the internet, it is best to stick to something tangible.

I can see myself, 60 years into the future, revealing the contents of Grandma’s special box to an attentive audience, each item triggering a briefly forgotten memory and leading to a story, starting, “when I was younger…”

Do you have a memory box? No? Make one.

Congratulations! You can now pay tax!

This afternoon, I arrived home from school to find a brown, rectangular envelope with my name on it. It is not a common occurrence so I immediately ripped it open, with much vigor, to find a highly anticipated letter. Whether this anticipation was in dread or excitement, I am not yet sure.

Mr HMRC (HM Revenue & Customs) has finally decided to end my tax-free existence and so I am now (when I start working), a tax-paying citizen of the United Kingdom. I will be amongst the common folk that will pay a large sum of their mediocre wages to tax, whilst the rich get richer and evade it. The tax man will be my boss.It sounds worse the more I write about it. I am beginning to question my earlier sanity, as I jumped around the living room in pure delight at the fact I had to pay tax! What was I thinking? Of course, it marks a great step in my life and is an important part of my transition into adulthood but the idea of complaining about the rise in taxes rather than laughing at those complaining does not have a very large appeal. Perhaps, I will just buy a house in Monaco, Dubai or any other tax-free country with electricity and running water.

What do you think? Feel free to offer you condolences or congratulations.

Celebrating 50 years of endurance

Fifty years is an incredibly long time. It’s five times a decade and half a century. It’s the number of years my grandparents have been living as a married couple, arguing constantly and lovingly and the number of years I would love to do the same. Fifty years is an amazing accomplishment.

Last weekend I escaped the Halloween trick-or-treaters and flew off to Spain to attend my grandparents’ bodas de oro (Golden Anniversary). It was a much awaited event that we’d been planning and joking about for years, teasing my grandmother with suggestions that she dress in white and re-walk the aisle whilst my grandfather assured us that he probably wouldn’t make it. He did. Even in their old age and deteriorating health they made it to fifty years and I am proud of them both perhaps even a little jealous.

Just watching them re-exchange their wedding rings and peck each other on the lips made me imagine myself in many years time doing the same. I wonder if they remember their grandparents anniversaries’ and when I am in the same position, will I remember theirs? What about my grandchildren, will they remember mine? All it takes is a few generations worth of family together in celebration, to shrink the timeline of my existence and those intertwined, into the relatively tiny space that is my head as I try to grasp the complicated concept of time. All those different times, beginning and ending, co-existing and separating, and generally making my head ache in confusion.

I hope that after all that internal questioning I actually manage to make it to fifty years of marriage. It would be a terrible disappointment if I were to annoy my husband to an early grave unless I were to consider celebrating in solitude which would be incredibly disrespectful to the deceased. Then, there is the possibility that he annoys me to divorce however it seems unlikely as I will endure just about anything to get my Golden Anniversary. Divorce is not an option.

I want to be able to share the joy of a fruitful fifty years, surrounded by a family built on love. Gather them all around for group photos even as they begin to bore and their cheeks begin to ache. Cry with tears of laughter as a surprise cake is brought in, accompanied by a merry jingle and topped of with a pair of bobbing dolls, magnetically joined at the lips. Toast to fifty long years I will never regret and then when all is silent, cry “long live the couple!”

 

A little gratitude goes a long way

It may seem simplistic and a little bit inconsequential but many of us are guilty of ingratitude every once in a while. We become so used to something always being there that we fail to acknowledge the hard work and the kind feelings behind it. Sometimes those feelings get hurt. They yearn for that acknowledgement. A basic thank you or a simple compliment can make a huge amount of difference to a person who has invested time, effort and maybe even money to appease you. It makes it all worthwhile.

A few generous-hearted people, who make up an extremely small percentage of the general population, are natural givers. They aim to please and go out of their way to make others happy. They’ll bake you a cake to welcome you to the neighbourhood or send you a card when you fall ill and although it is not their intention, even they appreciate the smallest bit of gratitude. More than anything, they deserve it.

Everyone likes to be recognised and thanked so put yourself in the other person’s sensitive skin and look at it through their eyes. It can be slightly disheartening, down right annoying and verging on infuriating when you are trying your very hardest, with the best of intentions, to please someone and you are given no indication that they are grateful. You give; they take and offer nothing in return. Not a smile or even a nod of approval. A nonchalant shrug is all it takes to make you want to give up.

It can be all too easy to forget to show gratitude and on certain occasions it is forgivable but after a few repeated faux pas it is time to start re-learning the basics of manners and social etiquette. Start from a smile and work your way up to blush-worthy praise. There is nothing worse than an ungrateful guest that never seems to be satisfied. They can make you feel inadequate and dampen the pleasure of giving.

So, this is a reminder to all that need to be reminded. Don’t be that person that makes others feel insufficient. Don’t be that guest that everyone eagerly waits for to leave. Show the same amount of gratitude you would like to receive.

I’ll be the first to follow my own profound advice and say thank you to everyone who has ever done anything for me. Even if I forget to show it, just know that I’m truly grateful.

Smile of appreciation