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Walking the Tightrope: Family

Sally Codman compares family likenesses and mannerisms - a certain glance, a lift of the head, a wave of a hand, a smile, a familiar saying, a way of looking at life.

'Blood's thicker than water' and 'You can choose your friends but not your family' are probably two of the better-known proverbs that spring to mind in relation to families. At least they sprang to my mind when I was pondering about families recently.

Proverbs have always intrigued me, so while I was thinking about families I decided to have a quick trawl around the Internet to see if I could find any more little gems on the subject to share. Below are a few of my new favourites:-

'Making the decision to have a child - its momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart walking about outside your body' - Elizabeth Stone.

'A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal and the common cold' - Ogden Nash.

'Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future' - Gail Lumet Buckley.

That last one really struck a cord, because what got me thinking about families in general was a relatively rare family gathering last Saturday night to celebrate the wedding of one of Mr C's numerous cousins.

Time was these gatherings took place every Christmas at Thornhill Cricket Club. If I tell you that Mr C's dad was one of a family of thirteen, you'll understand why we needed a Club! However over the last few years, as kids have grown older and moved further afield, the annual Codman Clan gathering hasn't happened, so it was fantastic to have an excuse to get together again.

And what especially fascinated me was comparing family likenesses, not always visual as in the proverb above, but often a mannerism, a certain glance, a lift of the head, a wave of a hand, a smile, a familiar saying, a way of looking at life.

Whatever, as the kids say, it was a great night and a chance to catch up with relatives we hadn't seen for years. A chance to discover what sort of teenagers other peoples' children had turned into, a chance to get up to date on who is working where or studying what and a chance to say 'goodbye and good luck' to the latest group planning to emigrate to Oz.

And although some people, who shall be nameless, are definitely looking older, it was reassuring to find that others, like Auntie J, have discovered the secret of eternal youth - at least when there's a band, a dance floor and a few drinks available. Yep, a good time was had by all, and it was reassuring to know that if the band got tired, alternative entertainment could easily have been provided in the form of an impromptu male voice choir or a quick game of Rugby!

As sometimes happens, thoughts on families stayed with me throughout the weekend. On Sunday an article in The Times, which featured Sir Bob Geldof criticising today's 'selfish society', prompted them.

Sir Bob, former Boomtown Rats singer and Third World campaigner famous for Live Aid, who was left to raise four daughters alone after his wife left him for rock singer Michael Hutchence, asked; 'Has the need to work hard, to produce, to earn, to spend, become more critical to the Government - and perhaps to our own emptier selves - than the truer world of home?

'Have we so devalued domestic life and its culture of companionship and warmth and nurture and safety and calm to the point of it being almost irrelevant?'

Good questions Sir Bob and ones the members of our troubled and dysfunctional Society should be asking today.

On a lighter note a friend sent me one of those Internet articles, designed to make you smile, entitled 'Why God Created Children.' My favourite bit was 'Whenever your children are out of control, you can take comfort from the thought that even God's omnipotence did not extend to his own children. After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve ....and the first thing he said to them was 'Don't!'.

'Don't What?' asked Adam.

'Don't eat the forbidden fruit' said God

'Forbidden fruit? We have forbidden fruit? Hey Eve ...we have forbidden fruit!!!!'

And we all know what happened next, so take comfort if you have tried to give your children wisdom and they haven't listened, don't be hard on yourself. If God had trouble raising children, what made you think it would be a piece of cake for you?


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