Letter 2
ma-2526me2

                   

Today would have been my Mama’s Birthday. It’s horrid to admit it but for the first time in 3 years this wasn’t my first thought when I woke up today.

I wanted to mark it though. My Mum’s advice filled letters punctuated my life until she died. I miss them. I’ve been realising how bossy Little Blog can get and this note, from my early Uni days, sheds light on where that tendency comes from….. Often I didn’t realise it, especially in my youth and when the advice ran contrary to what I wanted to hear, but my Mum’s advice, as mine does now, came from a place of love – whether you want it or not.

Sunday
Dearest
Well, we arrived home at 10.30 having stopped at a supermarket nearish Bath to shop! Felt very virtuous. It was lovely to see you, but hard to leave. I’m so very glad S. came when he did – what an easy – going chap! I’m sorry to ‘get’ at you to introduce us  but it should start to be a habit now that you are moving in your own circles – there has to be a moment of just saying who everyone is to make everyone fell included and comfortable. You can have all sorts of different ways of saying it but “hey everybody – this is E. ” isn’t actually very comfortable making for E. E. will need to know ‘everybody’ too – you can make a joke of the big group loads of names thing but you really must do it or it leads to people feeling not quite sure and lonely and isolated or not good enough. It’s very simple. costs you nothing (in fact it makes you feel good to bring people together – and in control) and really, truly makes a HUGE difference. Believe your old Ma. Oh yes, and if anybody forgets to introduce you to a new person or group (or whatever) you can just say “hello I’m Polly…I didn’t quite catch your name…” or (after a while) – “oh, by the way, I’m Polly – how do you do!” (joke, joke – cos now you are half way to the cinema)
OK lecture on introductions over.
When I was a girl…. there used to be a comic called Girl (like Eagle) and on the back pages it used to have a drawn comic strip about social skills and things like that – it was really good. I guess there are somethings that don’t change- or that it would be silly to drop without replacing them with equally comfortable -making devices. That’s what social skills and good manners are about, making other people feel included, acknowledged (if they invite you somewhere or send a present etc) and appreciated. Social skills go a v-e-r-y l-o-n-g w-a-y and actually make the biggest difference to first impressions. a lot of this you know about, of course, and a lot comes naturally to you (and that’s a blessing to count) but there are still many/much that we all have to learn and continually learn. When people go to work in Japan they have to go to special classes because social intercourse is so different there – a;; the signals are entirely different and sometimes opposite – and they are very complex and super important. Americans find it especially hard because they have fewer ‘rules’ than the English and can’t quite get to grips with all the bowing and self effacement! Did you ever see “Shall We Dance?”
Well – I’ve rambled on and not said anything yet about how impressed we were at how incredibly well you’re settling in – I know you still feel terribly torn ( and believe me, so do I darling) but I think you are doing a brilliant job of making friends and being a friend – and also hand washing you smalls and signing up for getting involved! All these are achievements for you Polly and should make you feel really good about yourself! You really do seem to be setting out on a very positive road to adulthood and independence – or rather inter-dependence. I really feel that is the right word – more co-operative sounding and it also make me think you aren’t cutting yourself off from us just because you spend important time away in your own sphere.
And it was brave to let us go last night. The door is always open, you know that and it is your choice, but I hope you begin to see now why we encouraged you to take the opportunity to go to College this year. Next year, you’d be miserable going away after a year at home but at 19 going on 20 you’d have had fewer people to share your sadness with – you’d have to be horribly brave. Of course, I hope that the courses cheer up for you – that’s a BIG part of it. Can you hear OK in lectures? Have you told them about your ear? Can you get a seat close to the “teacher” and on the right side? I forgot to ask all these questions.
Well M’s just returned (1pm) so I’d better get going and get lunch. Dad’s at work – I’m starting when I’ve had lunch – then I have to go to Bath tonight. Yesterday was a lovely treat and a good break for both of us. M will have to start at the White Bear tomorrow 11am – 7pm – 4 days a week. Actually not bad hours but not great money (£3.30/hour!) – but something to get up for and it’ll be pocket money to tide him over.
How did your friends like “….Mary” I’ve heard it is outrageous – but fun. I’d like to see it.
I’ve put a pencil mark in for Oct 26th by the way – we might have to leave early so I can be back for 7.30pm – a dance thing in Bath that I long to see.
Love you so much and miss you loads
Mama (and Pa)