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To our nice tidy house and a warm, calm Wellington evening. Most pleasant.

I went to my youngest cousin’s 21st last night. I found it an odd mash-up of different ages and stages of my life. I used to go to the bar where the 21st was held when I was a student myself. In the late 80’s, it featured low ceilings, carpet so beer-soaked that you stuck to it if you stood still for too long, high windows with deep sills just right for sitting on if you could get up there, regular raids by the police to catch all the under-age students (of which I was one), and a stellar array of the great Dunedin bands of the era. I remember it fondly.

That was then. It’s gone through various incarnations since – the carpet is no longer sticky and the bands have moved on – but it’s still recognisably the same down-at-heel place. Last night it was filled with my cousin’s friends – a bunch of amiably drunk kids in their late teens and early 20’s. I’m old enough to be their mother, which is a demoralising and rather peculiar thought.

And, I am somebody’s mother, which changes my place in the world. The slide show and old home movies that played on the huge screen behind the stage, featured Calum in his angelic white-haired, blue-eyed boyhood, hanging with his family and their friends. I was struck by the contrast between the past and present. Calum has grown up into a tall handsome blond lad with a full life that’s in many ways very separate from his family, focused now on his own friends and girlfriend. That’s what you want for your children – you want them to grow up to be well-adjusted and confident with happy, independent, busy lives. But sending them off into the world without you stings.

So I was ruminating on my own coming-of-age, watching Calum celebrate his, and anticipating Petra’s. It was a busy night!

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