Wednesday, October 28, 2015

the words in your song



A week or so ago, we were all five of us sitting in our car driving to Melbourne for a party when a Tracy Chapman song came on Indi's playlist.

Sorry, is all that you can't say 
Years gone by and still 
Words don't come easily 
Like sorry, like sorry...

All of a sudden I was right back there in high school, fifteen or sixteen maybe. A bunch of us were sitting outside somewhere and one of my friends was singing this song to me. Performing it loudly with words that suited our situation and with hand gestures. She'd kissed my on-again-off-again boyfriend and was apologising. In song.

Forgive me, forgive me... 

My memory all these years later is a happy one. She'd kissed him, and even though I had a hunch that he actually cared for her more than for me, she was apologising, and singing and we were laughing.

I can't even remember what happened after that. I can't remember if they got together or if I ever kissed him again. All I do know is that it turned out OK in the end. She's happily married, I saw him last year for the first time in twenty years and he looked good too. And there I was driving to Melbourne with a car filled with my happily-ever-after. Well mostly.

I know that back then I must have written dozens of entries in my teen diary about my feelings for him, I must have cried cup-fulls of tears, I must have dissected the relationship with anyone who would listen and as all great teen romances go, we definitely shared some great ups and deep downs, but they were then.

And as Tracy sang I visited them for a little bit and came back and told the girls about it. It's funny because they are almost the same age that I was when I was listening to her way back then. And it's funny because they are way back there now.

After I told them, they were immediately and fiercely loyal to me. They were shocked and wanted to know details. They threw around terms like 'cheating' and 'unfaithful' and were maybe even a little bit surprised that it isn't a big deal to me, that I think it's cute and hold no bad feelings at all.

For me, this is one of the trickier bits of parenting teenagers. My knowing and trusting that so many of the details that overwhelm and threaten to swallow them whole right now, will end up as cute little stories in 20 years time. All the heart aches and angst and yearning and desire and drama and passion and dreams and despair, they are all awesome, and they are all healthy, and they are all part of being a whole teenager.

I just wish that I could assure them that it'll all be OK. To feel the sadness but to feel supported also. To really dive right into the deepest lows and the floaty highs because they are part of being alive. And to trust that the wrong boy who does all the right things but is still wrong, the right boy who keeps choosing the other girls, the friends who seem to have everything you want and that feeling you get sometimes that nobody else understands, they're all part of the story.

They're all words in your song.


  1. Oh ...this!!
    You're singing my song x

  2. Oh I hear you so much. We've got an 11,12and 13 year old and I have the same fears and wishes for them. I almost feel like I'm holding my breath hoping they'll be ok sometimes and other times so excited for them and the discoveries coming their way.

  3. Beautiful sharing Kate. Thank you for being genuine, open and vulnerable. So creative and eloquent... 'they're all word in your song' Sending you a loving hug. x Jayma

  4. Oh my! I had a tricky black/white thing that happened just like that to a Tracey Chapman song in the car. My 8 year old wanted to know what 'across the line, who would dare to go, under the bridge, over the tracks, that separates white from blacks' I explained what it meant in historical terms, whilst still driving, then she disclosed that someone had called her friend at school a 'rude' word because of the colour of her skin and I was taken back. A song had made her tell me and we talked about it all again. She is an interesting woman that Tracey Chapman, provokes serious memories and discussion. Jo x

  5. Oh Kate, that song gives me goosebumps. It takes me back to when I was about 12 and had just left our family property to go to boarding school in Adelaide, hundreds of kilometres from home. So many powerful memories, some good and some totally heartbreaking. The teen years can be so tough...but I reckon you are nailing it x

  6. PS I have very strong associations with Tracy Chapman songs too!

  7. What a beautiful post Kate. Im just learning about you, your beautiful life, and your insightful perspective. What a privelege i feel that you have shared this with "me!!!" Thank you xxxx

  8. Eloquent as ever. Why do I have the feeling I will be lurking here more and more as my tween catapults desperately towards the teenaged years at a pace I am not ready for? You ace this mum think more often than you think.

  9. What a beautiful post, Kate. I loved reading that and going back to my own teenage years. Having a teenager to parent definitely has taken back to places and thoughts that feel like only yesterday it was me that was the teenager. Such a lovely, cosy post to read. xx

  10. I think that the more we tell our own stories like this, the clearer their perspective will be. x

  11. Love this post Kate.

    Similar musings here as I raise teenagers.


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