Extreme listening

The first thing anyone said to me one recent morning was: “He never listens to a word I say.

He‘ was the speaker’s dog. The speaker was a young woman, instructing her dog to cross the road, but he was too busy sitting on the pavement, watching the world go by. The young woman had headphones on, and I wondered if the dog was trying to make a point.

The first thing anyone said to me the following morning was: “We’ve gone from one extreme to the other!” The ‘extreme‘ was the onset of melting-hot weather after a spell of dreary cool days. The speaker was standing in a cloud of coffee machine steam, and I guessed it must have been more extreme for her than for me.

I’m a newcomer to Cambridge and have been grateful for the familarity of small exchanges like these, especially while the summer holidays endured and the mornings were my own.

But now that two of my children are back at school and I see them before noon, I don’t have to rely on strangers to give me the time of day.

This morning, the first thing anyone said to me was: “I’ve got this, Mum.” The speaker was my son who was lying on the floor. He was trying to prove that he really was out of bed – if not actually up. I was then told (I paraphrase) that he was capable of getting to school on time and there was no need for me to have anything to do with it or him.

I wanted to tell him that he never listens to a word I say, anyway. Or that he’s gone from one extreme to the other (his adolescence has been a blast, so far).

But I didn’t. I tried to stay calm – and semi-succeeded. And I left my son to it and went for a run.

I took it as a good sign that I found the sun playing with shadows at a nearby skatepark. Yesterday I found snails in the rain, attempting to cross a path. I couldn’t see how on earth they would make it.

I’ve decided to put some headphones on when my son returns home from school. That way I can pretend that I’m not listening while I work out if he’s in a good mood.

  • Cambridge, home, snails, strangers, light, sun, rain, running