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Rites of Passage
19 September 2020 14:28


It’s going to be quiet in the Barefoot household for the next few months. Youngest Child has gone to university. Mrs B has taken her on the four-hour drive (with a carload of stuff) today. We will miss her (mostly). I won’t have any one to keep me in line – or to blame for thing that go wrong.

For someone who is noted as being reticent and quiet, she makes a lot of noise around the house. If she is not playing the ukulele and/or singing, she’s chatting away to us. Sometimes it feels more as if she is talking at us then to us! I won’t miss the bits when her chatty times coincide with my trying-to-go-to-sleep times. She was showing me her latest jujitsu moves yesterday. I think I may have nodded off during the demonstration but luckily she didn’t notice.

I had a non-working day yesterday, so took YC to Southampton to do her final shopping – which was generally taking back or swapping things she’d bought last week.

“So, to swap this item, do we go and get the size I need and take them both to the check out?” she asked.

“yes”, I replied. “but as the item is a sports bra, I think that it will be you rather than we”.

“good point”.

On last weekend’s shopping trip, in the time it took them to visit Smiths (for stationery) and Boots (for soap and stuff) I managed to go to the greengrocers for veg and Costa for a coffee. YC won’t do anything quickly if there is a slower way of doing it!


I should add that in the fiasco of exam results, where the algorithm was designed to disappoint as many people as possible, YC obtained the grades she needed to get to her first choice university.

We think she’ll be all right. She may not be very independent or streetwise but she’s quite good at determining what’s right and wrong and setting and keeping to her own boundaries. And she’ll soon learn to cook when she starts to get hungry.

We won’t hear from her for at least two weeks; she’s already told us that – and that we’re not to contact her in that time either. I replied that that was fine, but after the two weeks we would like a phone call from time to time, and not only when there is an emergency. She also read the list of “things not to take to university”. Top of the list was parents. “let them carry stuff in from the car, then give them a couple of tissues to cry into and kick them out” owtte.


She was still singing late last night. Which means either she was happy or was nervous and trying to keep her spirits up.

She does generally have good mental health – particularly if the measure of the state of mental health is the ability to cope with setbacks and problems, as the following anecdote proves.

When we were away in the summer, we hired bikes for a morning and cycled along an old railway line (they’ taken the tracks away; the sleepers are too bumpy to cycle over, and the rails too narrow to balance on). Halfway along was a café in an old railway wagon to the side of the line. We decided to stop there for a coffee, so Mrs B and I parked our bikes and went to a table.

After a few minutes we thought “Where’s YC?”. Mrs B said that she must still be getting the bike through the gate, so I went round to look. No YC.

She must have not seen we’d stopped and cycled on. So, I set off in hot pursuit. After about a mile I caught up with her, but as I approved was a little apprehensive about what mood she would be in. Would she be angry; would she be frightened; would she be upset?

As it was, she was none of these. She’d taken the whole episode in her stride and thought it a great joke. “it’s like in those cartoons when there’s a chase, and the people being chased hide behind a tree and the pursuers go straight past”.

What had happened was that after YC got, her bike thought the gate she saw cyclists ahead whom she thought were us. So she cycled fast to catch up. After a while she heard Mrs B’s phone ringing and was surprised, she could hear it from such a distance. Then she realised that it was her phone and thought “that can’t be mum ahead, because mum wouldn’t be able to use her phone and cycle at the same time”, so stopped. She knew that as we were on a railway line there were limited places where we could be, so if we weren’t ahead we must be behind, so all she had to do was wait for us to catch up.

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