(A lil' blog on a dotty hill somewhere)

Sunday, January 24

That Peter Pan complex


What a difference 10 years can make. I was not at all happy about turning 40, but this go around, if anything, has been positively invigorating! And seriously, that's quite an accomplishment for me, let me tell you.

You see, I think I may be the only person out there who was actually rather despondent about the prospect of even reaching the double digits! Turning 10 meant I was no longer a little child; I had to put away child's play and face life a tad more grown up... or so I thought. Ha, I remember actually being sad that no doubt one day would surely come when I would no longer care to play with toys or make believe. All I wanted was to be a kid... forever!

Of course, a few years later, my peers were all too excited about becoming teenagers whereas I was positively not. That mantle indicated that now I surely had to pack away my Action Man figurines and finally stop playing pretend! I think too though seeing the duress my mother was under raising us as a single mom filled me with a certain sense of dread. I feared that adult life was going to be more about worrying how to pay the bills or what else to sell than anything else. It was the diminishing of dreams, as it were. Adulthood was all about working all day, all the time too, only to then come home exhausted and have to cook up some meal for the family. No thank you! Childhood seemed far more wonderful. I just wanted to close my eyes and carry on living in that imaginary childhood wonder where there were no real worries, where how one did in school didn't even matter that much.

While most of the ensuing teen years seemed challenging and sometimes outright depressing, I nevertheless wasn't ready to give them up at twenty, nor was I wanting to become a full-fledged adult at eighteen (in England). On top of that, I had absolutely zero desire to spend my 18th in some dank, smoke-filled pub somewhere. No, I didn't see any advantages to becoming an adult. I mean, after all, living in London there wasn't even a need to drive! None of my friends had cars either. Besides which, I loved riding my bicycle through Kensington Gardens and down empty, serenely quiet mews at night. Did this mean that now I had to put all that away too?

By the time twenty-one rolled around, I was living in America with my girlfriend (who would a year later become my wife), working and finally loving school (uni). That, however, didn't equate to relishing the idea of (once again) becoming a fully legal adult here now too. Again, I had no desire to drink too much in some loud bar filled with drunk "kids" seemingly desperate for attention and that pursuit of fun at all expense. Working almost full-time whilst a student meant I wasn't about to dump our money on such frivolous, let alone expensive pursuits. I was more mature than that, as it were! Some might well say I was far too old already, except for the inconvenient fact of only looking about fifteen or so by then and, deep down, my child's heart was still not ready to let go.

Other eventful birthdays came and went, some harder than others, but while I've never enjoyed getting older, I have always, oddly enough, loved my actual birthdays. It's that one day which is all about oneself! Relishing good cake too certainly helps, must admit. :)

This birthday was no exception. It was, actually, perhaps the best! Alex went overboard, even having that delicious Victoria Sponge (above) made for me at the bakeshop we love downtown to celebrate with some new friends and with my children who also showed up. In fact, earlier, I had a special dinner time out with the kids on my actual birthday that Alexandra arranged. The best part? As usual, the lovely cards with their thoughtful (tear inducing) sentiments each of my children wrote... and a loving wife who celebrates and believes in me. Those are the things I will always cherish, naturally.
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20 comments

  1. Dear Michael - I tend to think of birthdays as just another figure, after all I am only one day older than I was before the birthday arrived. Often I have to think twice or ask my husband "how old am I now?"
    Your birthday sounds to have been lovely, being cherished and loved by your family, that's the most important part of all.
    The Victoria sponge looks delicious - I bet it was much enjoyed.

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    1. Rosemary, it was delicious indeed! Yes, true, one day older but I always think that it's not even really the beginning on your particular birthday year but actually the last day, end of it! I am now starting 51!

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  2. Michael, this is a lovely post as you have such a way with words and write so eloquently. I recognise myself in not wanting to grow up as a child. You are that Peter Pan who lives in Kensington Gardens, I still remember playing at the base of the statue when very young. Now that you have found your soul mate in Alexandra you can both enjoy the wonders of growing up together.

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    1. Linda, I love that statue and also remember playing at its base. In fact, when last in London I tried to take Alex there but it was raining, our feet were aching adn it was far too cold....as well as I needed to go to teh loo! So that was that--we never made it! I used to love sailing my little sail boat off the round pond near there in the Gardens. Good times! thank you for your comment about the writing. Alex says I'm a perfectionist and have to keep massaging and tweaking the words jsut so! haha. I do love to write though but only wish I could type as well!

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  3. OMG - I can't imagine a better Birthday cake - for we Brits especially - than a glorious Victoria sponge - and your lovely bakery seems to have baked a perfect rendition of that much-loved traditional cake. Any leftovers to share? Bet not with all your beautiful children there to help gobble it all up! That's a great pic of all of you - and you still look very young and handsome, even with a tinge of grey now in your curls, haha!

    Looks like Alexandra really knows how to throw a party - the kind I like, small, personal and surrounded by our most-loved and cherished.

    Sharing more of your growing up in London story was a gift - I had not heard a lot of it and I'm sad that your childhood was not easier and more enjoyable. We had limited means right after the war and it was a struggle for the family - but I did have both parents around and somehow we all managed to get by with so few material things compared with what kids today expect. I worked during the summer hols. from age 13, just to be able to buy a few clothes, and we never went anywhere fancy - perhaps a restaurant once or twice a year for something special. Getting ready to post on my very first visit to London when I was 9 - lovely Jackie at HOME blog said we should show some pix of us as kids. I don't have many, but I treasure this one taken in Trafalgar Square!

    The fifties decade is a great one and flies by fast - enjoy each day Michael.
    Many, many happy returns - tell Alexandra she did well!
    Love and hugs - Mary

    P.S. I may try making a Vic sponge this week - on second thoughts, maybe not as we've been eating too much 'comfort food' whilst housebound in the ice - need to knock off a couple of pounds prior to cake!

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    1. Thank you, Mary! I'm sure you've watched the Great British Bake-Off, right? Everytime we see it, we want whatever was shown! Same with a pic like this! I am sure you know how to make one incredible Vic sponge too, right? We have never tried anything that complicated to make but I can certainly eat it! And, no, no leftovers. In fact, Alex had TWO pies made!

      Yes, i think a lot of kids in this day and age are far better off than older gens were but that is not to say, I did not have a great childhood especially and some very good teenage memories. After all, we live din inner London!

      I will have to go visit HOME too. Like you, I have VERY few pics of my childhood.

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  4. Ok tears in my eyes at the last paragraph! I loved reading your open and reflective post.

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    1. Thank you on all accounts, Christine! :)

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  5. I love your attitude toward life. Keep it simple and appreciate the good things. Happy birthday! (What a lovely looking cake!)

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  6. Oh dear Peter Pan, you wrote and delivered a heartfelt post. So glad you had a wonderful birthday. 😊

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    1. Now I find that childlike wonder in my art instead. Thank you Tracy. :)

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    2. I'm glad you did. You have inspired my art immensely through CT. Thank you, Peter Pan 😊

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    3. Does that make Alexandra my personal Wendy then? :) She can certainly add sparkle.

      I LOVE to read when Ct has helped people in any way with their creativity. Wonderful! thanks for letting me know.

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  7. Oh Michael, your BIG birthday sounded perfect ........ and, I'm sure, a very, very happy one. I just love that you and Alexandra met and how you have both found happiness. I remember the early days of Alexandra's blog and I used to worry about her .... it's so wonderful how she { and you } has turned her life around .... it is indeed a joy to read.
    Enjoy this coming decade .... it's my birthday next week but I am SO much older than you !!!!!!!! XXXX

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    1. Hi Jackie! Thank you for your comment here. We actually met while both of us were going through challenging, hard times! To find each other at our worse and yet still see beyond that to the good within each and the prospects of some kind of brighter time, with or without each other is a testament, I think, to the strength of resolve and character we forged between us. It served us well as a basis on which, years later, to form a marriage! :) We definitely compliment each other too! :)

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  8. Happy happy birthday to you, and what a delightful post! I love the way you write. Fab photo of your family -- what a great-looking bunch. Yes, Mary is my grandmother! And I partly started my blog because I adore hers so much, but she is much more dedicated than I. I'm still working full-time, so right now it's difficult to find the time for more than one post per week! I'm working on it, though. I really appreciated your sweet comments. I have not seen the Paddington Bear movie, my husband and I will need to fix that! And yes, we are so thrilled about the upcoming arrival of our little boy, so glad that you enjoyed the Christmas morning video! xx

    Looking forward to subscribing and following your blog!

    Cassie

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    1. Hi Cassie, Thank you so much for popping by. Busy and all. Yes, I too work a demanding full time job so, like you, it takes great effort to add to my blog more than about once a week. (Thus what the art co-op I host online, Creative Tuesdays, is only every fortnight!)

      Your grandmother, Mary, is very much engaged with life. She definitely to me takes the biscuit for the kind of person I refer to in my following post about Bettie! I am fascinated by all her travels, interests and what not. She has obviously maintained quite decent health too to have the energy to do all that. Bravo to her! I'm glad I found her online years ago. She is in fact one of the very few ex-pat friends I have, even if only virtual, as it were. I feel like she's been through the valleys, highs and lows with me through her not often commented, but noted words over these many years. :)

      Yes, I'm quite sure you will enjoy Paddington, the movie. It really is very wondrous and not as much that slapstick one might find in other Disney type movies, yet enough to engage a wider, younger audience too. I loved the scenes above the museum rooftops...and the snowfall. (You will know what I mean when you see it.)
      Thank you for following along too. I hope some of it uplifts along the way or, if nothing else, can be one of those gentle reprieves when life gets exhausting with new baby, family and all. I'm following your blog too... so I will expect that post once a week! Ha. Well, ok, maybe not when the delivery date comes! Take good care of yourselves, all three of you!

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  9. Happy Belated Birthday - Love the Vicky Sponge. Very, very cool.

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