Wednesday, 14 March 2012

All The Time in the World


That's how it felt once upon a time, didn't it?  Every weekend lasted a month, every half term holiday felt like a year and as for the six week summer break - well, sometimes I actually thought I'd DIE through sheer boredom.  How could something with the words Holiday and Summer in it be so interminably dull?  Of course these days there're Playstations and Facebook and Kindles and recreational drugs to be filling the time in with, but back then?  Entirely different story.

I'm surprised I didn't self-combust or implode with the sheer monotony of the summer holidays.  I can still 'feel' the massive sighs that used to wrack my teenaged, slouched torso and made me sag lifelessly from living room, to kitchen and back to the bedroom ad nauseum.  I'm now not surprised I threw my mother into a mid-life menopausal monster with the amount of "I'm sssssoooooo bored"'s I must have flung at her on a daily basis.

"Go and draw me something" she'd say.  And I'd momentarily be flummoxed.   Really? Mummy wants me to draw her something?  Oh goody.  What should I draw?  What would she like me to draw?  What really good drawing could I possibly draw for her?
Having no idea what kind of anything my mother liked - like, EVER - I would invariably never know what I should draw for her and so I'd sit sucking the end of my 2HB wondering if she'd like flora or fauna, building or landscape, portrait or still-life.  Eventually I'd do what I always did and infuriate her further with a: "Muu-uuuummm?  What should I draw?"

So I'd end up doing the one thing I always ended up doing; watching ants in the garden.  Wondering what they were thinking.  IF they could think and if they could think, then wondering if they had names and families and what their homes looked like under the earth and if they had the ant-equivalent of furniture and shops and jobs.  I'm a little surprised I never actually ended up being an Ant-iquarian with the unhealthy amount of ant-based interest I amassed during my formative years.  And when my brother dropped his heavy boot on my little project, I'd become even more fascinated as I watched the little ants race about in astonished circles crying "oh my god, Dave's just been squished, quick, send for the Ant-bulance" (in my head, anyway) and then I’d be absolutely awe-struck as they overcame their confusion and rallied around Dave, lifting him high above their little ant-heads and off to the nearest operating theatre in their burrow/hive/warren.  Actually, I’m not sure if I read it or dreamed it or saw something on the telly but I did hear somewhere that the ant kingdom is the only other species in the world that can perform life-saving surgery on their own kind.  [Bearing in mind this information is brought to you courtesy of a fairly overactive imagination, feel free to disregard this idea as totally insane.  Which is how it looks to me now I’ve written it down].

Those ant years I’ll never get back.  And the time I spent watching those manic little insects rushing about over and through and under the mounds of dry soil in our back garden I shall never see again.  Were they wasted hours? Could they have been hours better spent doing something constructive – like the vastly superior-of-mind-ants were doing before my very eyes?  I don’t know.  But I’ve never forgotten the feeling of being so desperately bored out of my skull that I was happy to sit on a warm garden path with ants (very nearly) in my pants, waiting, waiting, waiting for something to happen.  I never knew what and I never dared even ask what in case it upset me to hear the answer.  But I do remember that back then, knowing that I had all the time in the world felt like a painful, horrible torture of mind-numbing proportions and now…. well, it worries me that I don’t have that luxury anymore and sometimes I feel a bit like Dave must’ve done seeing the shadow of my brother’s Doc Martin looming ever-closer.
So, I'm guessing if Tempus Fugit, then Carpe Diem...

7 comments:

Helen Black said...

Your post struck a real chord with me. As an only child I spent long hours just day dreaming and chatting with my imaginary best friend. It seemed like I was just waiting for my life to begin...

And now I'm in the midst of it, it's a queer chaotic place. So much to do, so little time. So many ideas, so little head space.
HB x

JO said...

I worked in Child Protection, and recall a child psychiatrist saying that all adolescents need to experience boredom, or how else can they discover what they really want to do.

Which gave me the courage to leave my teenagers to it. They are now feisty, opinionated women - but we had some tedious days along the way!

Sandra Davies said...

Was this from a pre-daytime TV era? I remember, guiltily, days like you've described, but not sure that my offspring whined so loudly - but then they were brought up to know 'mother doesn't do sympathy' Now the only one with children works hard to fill their every minute, but I have a sneaking suspicion that what JO says is correct.

Roderic Vincent said...

You bring back horrid memories, long suppressed, of how we built a Lego gas chamber for the ants. It was Dean's idea.

Susie Nott-Bower said...

I loved this. Those days were all 'be' and no 'do'. Now it feels like continually running to catch up with oneself. Reminds me of this little poem I wrote years ago:

We can take our time
Time is ours for the taking

Time is ours for the...
Ticking.


Susiex

Caroline Green said...

So very true and insightful, Debs. I do feel a bit guilty by how little chance my children have to get properly, mind-numbingly bored (and reading what Jo said, I feel even worse!)

Now, time seems to whizz past so quickly I find myself saying things like, 'Spring? Already? Wasn't it just Autumn?'

Debs Riccio said...

Maybe that's why I had such an affinity with Adam and his Ants... ah those long, lazy, dreary summer days... why and where did they go? ;)