vendredi, octobre 09, 2009

Eldest Son is now a Teenager(?)

Wasp-fearing Teenager Moritz Picking Grapes

I do not recall turning 13 as being such a big deal, but the boy has been fantasizing about it for the past year or so and is really happy today when the day finally arrived. Yes, my first-born turns 13 today, and I am once again reminded of how old I have become.

When I was 13 I was in Secondary One and the only thing worth remembering was the horror of having to study 8-9 subjects instead of 4. Otherwise life hadn't been any different for me, I grew fatter than ever, my grandfather still walked me to school and back, I still couldn't go out with my friends...

He seems to think that being 13 automatically qualifies him as a teenager. Ok, it does if teenager simply means someone who's between 13 and 19. But a teenager is also a juvenile between the onset of puberty and maturity and as far as I can see, he hasn't sprouted height nor (extra) hair and is still a big baby who plays Runescape and who leaves empty milk boxes in the fridge. And he doesn't help much with the younger ones, the other evening, I came home after taking away some dinner to find the 2 Babies crying 300m from the house (in the dark) and our friend sitting in the living room watching TV. He didn't even know they had left the house!

And with him turning 13, it also means that I had to spend a few days preparing his application for deferment from National Service (in Singapore) and getting stomach ulcers for that. It is also for sure now that he would cost us alot of money each time we travel.

Baked Curry Puffs

Still, I spent hours yesterday preparing the filling for today's curry puffs and a few weeks organising his birthday party that he would celebrate with all of his schoolmates from the Middle Years. I hadn't planned on bringing anything to school actually, but was told by the boy that since I had brought curry puffs to school on his last 2 birthdays, the teachers were sort of expecting them again this year. OK.

This year's party started with a grape harvest at Il Piccolo Mugnaio (an agriturismo in Torre Maina) and finished with a dinner at the Japanese restaurant Izakaya in Maranello. Truth be told, I wasn't really thinking about cost when I organised this birthday, but as I calculated the amount of cash I would need to withdraw so as to pay for the ice cream cake, the grape harvest (yes, you labour and still have to pay for it) and the dinner, I was stumped. That was 1 month of my parents' allowance to be spent in 5 hours. 16 children came for the event. And the sushi went off really well. I can only hope that the Hub wouldn't insist on knowing how much the total bill came up to or I would have much less to spend next week when I go shopping in London.

Driving behind the grapes during harvesting season

The idea for the grape harvest came in succession. First when I met Arturo near the vineyard next door and he told me that they would be harvesting the grapes end-September; then when I was driving and was blocked so very often lately by slow-moving trucks filled with grapes. I knew then that I had to organise one for the kids.

See his swollen right eye (which would get really bad later)

Today was the only day it rained in 2 weeks. But we were able to harvest the grapes because it rained just before and after and not during. Eldest Son was the only person stung (just below the right eye) by the many wasps hanging around. They knew who the Birthday Boy was alright.


Harvesting Grapes

Maria, the owner of the agriturismo, started out by explaining to the children how balsamic vinegar and wine are made using the same grapes but different methods. The children also learnt about making lambrusco wine and about growing vines and were each given a pair of scissors to pick the grapes. Then they transported the grapes back to the main building and pressed out grape juice with their feet the ancient way. Nowadays of course they use machines to do the job, but that wouldn't be as fun. Some kids spent their time eating the grapes and tasting the juice, apparently they were really tasty.


Making Grape Juice the Old Way

Tasting the Fruit of One's Labour

Grape Juice

Then those kids ran wild and disappeared up the hill behind the agriturismo chasing one another as well as the poultry minding their own business around them. I think they had an educational, fun and healthy afternoon out. I bought a few bottles of the expensive but oh-so-good balsamic vinegar of Modena made in-house. They make great gifts.


Hills, children and poultry

Dinner at Izakaya gave the teenagers a chance to eat together like adults (without having to foot the bill). There were sushi and makis, fried prawn-cheese-cured ham rolls, chicken yakitori, fried chicken wings, fried rice and ice cream birthday cake. It was difficult trying to photograph the dishes as the food's gone the minute the plates reached the table. The adults ate dinner separately and I got the restaurant owner to make us a few Chinese dishes in addition to a sushi boat.

The children's sushi boat

After dinner, the kids ran outside to play a few games and then the ball was over and I came home to digest my food in front of the computer.


Happy 13th Birthday, son of mine! May you grow wise and healthy and be very happy in your life.

PS: Frontal shots of the children will be sent to their families later.

8 commentaires:

rinaz a dit…

Happy birthday to the eldest son

It looked like such a fun day for him and and his friends :-)

Beau Lotus a dit…

Thanks, except that he's now at the pronto soccorso as his right eye is ever redder and more swollen. Had to skip his favorite golf lesson today...

Pris a dit…

Happy birthday Shawn! I hope that his eye is recovering! Is his birthday on the 9th of Oct? That´s one day before my younger brother´s birthday, who just turned 20 today. Wow, your kids are growing up so quickly! And you´re a young Mom! How did your 2 kids get lost 300m from the house?

Beau Lotus a dit…

Thanks, Pris, and yes, we celebrated his birthday this time on the day itself. The area around the eye is really quite bad now, the doctor prescribed some cortisone, he is quite a sight. He said he had bad luck because he turned 13.

They were lost 300m from the house because they left the house and walked towards the gate. Our gate is quite far from the house, that's why the postman never rings to give us our parcels or registered mail.

Anonyme a dit…

Novel way to spend the birthday away from the house without creating a mess!

Hope you don't mind me asking, does this means that you registered his birth in Spore ie Spore birth cert making him a Spore citizen?

Your husband & most importantly your son are agreeable to the NS conscription?

Hope yr luck turns better for you & eldest son. Have a good & safe trip in London, also looking forward to yr shopping trip reports there.

Beau Lotus a dit…

No mess but no money anymore either haha.

I have 3 children and only my eldest is Singaporean. In my patriotic fervour 13 years ago I applied for Singapore citizenship for him - yes.

Now that the rice is cooked, there is not much choice about NS. There is no way of escaping it unless you intend never to step into Singapore again. One way out is to apply for NS deferment with the intention of renouncing Singapore citizenship at the age of 21. They are not clear as to under what conditions they will grant it, so we can only apply and cross our fingers.

I'm packing right now for the trip, have to leave space for the shopping, have also to bring a few gifts for the 2 friends I'll be meeting. Hope bad luck wouldn't follow me there...

petite fleur a dit…

Sadly I've not been to a harvesting in all my time in France but it looks like so much fun (apart from the wasp sting tho). I'm allergic & if I do get stung (which has only happened once), it is very nasty.

Happy Birthday to your eldest !

Beau Lotus a dit…

Thanks, I must say those wasps are nasty without seeming to serve any purpose unlike bees. I was stung once on my finger and the swelling lasted days. Dunno whether this meant I was allergic or not.