Butterflies and wolves

Someone did warn me about the smell. Guess I thought they might have been exaggerating but bloomin’eck do teenage boys stink! Monkey has rugby camp this week with two mates who have both been staying at ours. I picked them up yesterday afternoon, these lanky boys with sprouting leg hair and breaking voices. J is my height, B not far behind and Monkey has shot up lots too. These three have been best mates since they were toddlers and back then I used to take them to the playground in Kew Gardens that they used to call “the butterfly park” due to the little cage enclosure with butterflies adjacent to the playground. Now they’re rowdy, rugby playing teens with Instagram accounts and body odour. Got them in the car – my little Mini with air con that has broken. I had to breathe through my mouth the whole way home, even with the windows open the air was thick with Boy Smell. It’s some strange mixture of sweat, old socks and some other strange hormone induced and slightly musty scents. Of course, they had to consume the smelly crisps and other remnants of their packed lunches en route too. Yuk.

It’s so sweet though. I’m incredibly fond of J and B, I genuinely love them but that’s not strange as I’ve seen them grow up alongside Monkey. I do hope their friendship is one that lasts. Monkey is changing schools soon but he’ll still play on the same football and rugby teams as B, and I can’t imagine he’ll lose touch with J. Having said that, J’s mum is the flakiest woman I’ve ever met and I don’t know if I’m a bit annoyed or just surprised.

Monkey informed me Sunday afternoon on our way back from Bishop’s Stortford where we’d had lunch with the bigger boys that he’d arranged for J to come over. “Is it OK if he stays over?” he asked. I told him of course. I pinged a message to J’s mum just to say look, this is what I’ve been told and J’s more than welcome. Just wanted to check it was OK with her as these boys don’t always involve us parents these days when they make plans. Nothing back, but J was dropped off early evening with an overnight bag.  Thought quietly to myself if it were me I’d out of courtesy just text the other parent(s) to check if it was OK to play host to my kid, I mean these lanky things eat like a pack of wolves (only yesterday I spent half a fortune on a takeaway – partly my own fault as I prefer the nicer Chinese restaurant to the more reasonably priced one). Monday comes and goes and J just, well, stays. No problem for me, I love him to bits, but now he’s out of spare underwear and at half a foot taller than Monkey and much bigger overall, Monkey’s stuff is comically small on him.

They head out during the days and of course they have to eat so I hand them cash Monday and Tuesday for a KFC or similar on their excursions. B’s parents and I have, weeks in advance, planned and booked in Monkey and B for the rugby camp they usually go to each half term and school holiday. Tuesday afternoon I tell J that he is welcome to stay of course but Monkey won’t be around during the day. They immediately start nagging me to enroll J on the course, but this thing is expensive – a fiver for lunch money, feeding, making him shower, doing his laundry, being their chauffeur and generally keeping J alive is one thing, but paying for rugby camp is more than I’d usually spend on Monkey for his birthday so I give them the link and say if J wants to go he is welcome to stay with us (we live in rugby country and the grounds are near where we live) and I’ll drop and collect and do their lunches and laundry but he’ll need to agree this with his parents and they have to pay for him. I text J’s flake mum but again nothing. Eventually J informs me he’s got hold of his dad in IRELAND (his parents are divorced) who has now paid for his camp and so now he’ll stay the rest of the week. This is fine with me and I love having J, or “the Irish charmer” as I normally refer to him – it’s for Monkey I do this and I want to make sure our door is always open to his mates. Obviously. But a bit of courtesy wouldn’t go amiss.

On the Tuesday during the day, when B (hubby B, that is, not Monkey’s friend) was working from home, hubby told me J’s mum suddenly drives in on the drive way and J runs downstairs to get a bag of more clothes. Apparently she didn’t even get out of the car, never mind come up to say hello or anything else. I think that’s a tiny bit rude, but again, hey ho.

B’s parents on the other hand, are in touch over the phone – first to see if I’d like them to swing by on the morning of the first day to take all boys there, secondly to check if it’s OK with me for B to stay Wednesday night and they collect one of the other days. Between us we distribute drop-offs and collections and sleepovers. Now, B’s parents have organised the “Friday Fives” football for years and every Friday after school they’ve had the whole gang at theirs for tea and then shipping them to the pitch from which us other parents have just turned up to watch and collect. So I tell them OBVS I’ll do whatever they need. B’s dad even calls to say he forgot to include B’s sandwich for day two and would I mind getting one for B, adding that he can reimburse me. I tell him OBVS NOT a problem and he is NOT reimbursing me as he has fed my child/hair sprouting teen every Friday afternoon over the past three years. Still – this is good manners, and I’d do the same. J’s mum however remains silent whilst I’m left to supply J with a huge packed lunch for three days – as I said, these boys are bottomless food pits. Again, more than happy to do so as I love J and these things are important (I want Monkey to feel that I make his friends welcome and make a fuss over them) but J’s mum could at least check in?! If she did and offered to pay for his lunches or reimburse me, I’d probably just tell her not to worry and it’s my pleasure. Because it IS. I just like good manners, that’s all.

Anyway, not sure why this turned into a bit of a whinge given I’m in a fantastic mood this morning. Thoroughly enjoying my summer break – working every other day during the summer months, so when it’s autumn again it really does feel a little like when I was a kid and had summer holidays lasting over two months. Bliss! Might see if I can take B the hubby out this evening if the weather improves, but the weather app says it’ll turn sunny so let’s see if there’s somewhere nice I can treat my beautiful husband to.


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