Family life | Toddlers to teens, Buddy Holly and chicken noodle soup

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Snapshot: The journey from toddlers to teens

I’m looking at this photograph the morning after my nearly adult son’s sixth-form graduation and prom party. Harry is five, and his sister Eloise, two. How did those years from toddler to teen spin away so swiftly? How can I prepare for life’s exciting yet cruel cycle of closing and opening doors?

I take pleasure in my daughter’s ice-cream-spattered cheeks, her shoulders edging competitively ahead of her big brother and that expectant look in her eye. They all betray the bold character and devil-may-care spirit of her now 14 (going on 17) years.

My son is preoccupied and pensive. Is he imitating his dad, lying beside him out of view, mulling over England’s woes in the Sunday newspaper. Or is he just trying not to stab the inside of his mouth with the lolly stick?

The plank holding up the washing line in the background is a throwback to my own childhood. My father, a teacher, was a master craftsman manqué. He turned his hand to most materials, but enjoyed working with wood best. My octogenarian mother still rests her tea cup on the circular coffee table he made out of the wooden slatted fascia of our 1950s porch when it was stripped out and replaced.

The washing-line prop in the background is made from twin beds my father crafted for my bedroom when the bed I was born in was replaced. He would have been proud that I’ve recycled his work 25 years later.

So my son’s departure to university looms large. My daughter will be with us for four more years, giving me time to plan how to enjoy the next few decades without their daily company. Mary James

Playlist: Dad gave us Buddy for ever

That’ll be the Day by Buddy Holly

“Well, that’ll be the day when you say goodbye / Yeah, yes, that’ll be the day when you make me cry / You say you’re gonna leave / You know it’s a lie / ‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die”

Dad, so many songs are emblematic of how you were, so many songs that capture incidents and episodes throughout our time together, but, when it comes to the crunch it has to be something by Buddy. Along with which football team we had no say in supporting (not that we’re complaining), the words and music of Charles Hardin Holley and his Crickets were a perennial backdrop to growing up and getting older together as a family. Every mix tape for those long journeys were an insight into popular music’s history and yours – Now That’s What I call an Education Volume One.

Buddy was part of who you were – from the appropriation of his glasses to the trips to Lubbock’s annual festival – there was no escaping the sounds of a man who was gone almost as soon as he was around, something that feels concordant with your absence. I vividly recall the competition you entered that required me to do a portrait of Buddy; a competition you didn’t win, and I felt responsible. Not that you saw it that way.

Your passionate and obsessive love of music filtered down, and I know you’d have been proud at how I’ve managed to inherit those qualities and use it in many areas from quizzes to essays.

Your perpetual “live for the day” attitude embodies the song’s message: “It’ll never happen.” Whoever believes that their parents will leave? It’s six years this year since you did leave, and the meaning of this song now has different connotations and memories, but I continue down the path you set me on with Buddy, Billy, Adam and Ricky, carrying the torch on your behalf.

Love, The Golden Child x

We love to eat: Chicken noodle soup


Chicken stock and some meat (usually roast chicken leftovers)

Star anise

Noodles – rice vermicelli are our favourite but soba or rice noodles work too

Sliced shallots

Greens – any of broccoli, pak choi, cabbage, sugar snaps, whatever you have

Grated root ginger, a good amount

Soy sauce

Other seasonings, such as dried shrimp, shrimp paste, seaweed

Miso if you want it to be more savoury

Sesame oil and shredded spring onion to garnish

Boil the chicken carcass with a bit of star anise. Strain it and pick over for the meat before discarding the bones. Put the stock in a pan, bring to a simmer and add the noodles. After a couple of minutes, add the greens, the grated ginger, the sliced shallots and the other seasonings. I like it with miso but that’s optional – add it at the very end. Serve in bowls and garnish with a dribble of sesame oil and spring onion.

I’ve always loved Asian soups, and I really want to pass on a passion for different kinds of food to my three children. My younger son who is six has adored this soup for years, and will happily slurp down a huge bowl. Because it’s more fun, I told him that in Asia you normally get as close to your bowl as you can and slurp a lot because the air helps the flavour. I also told him it’s OK to drink from the bowl. I love this because it’s tasty and healthy, and I get a kick out of using up leftovers. My mother is obsessed with not wasting food and passed this on to me. I love that it’s something special that Jake and I can share – we even have special Chinese soup spoons.

I only have to start boiling stock with a bit of star anise in it and he’ll come running in saying “Smells like chickenoodlesoup!” (The way he says it, it’s one word.) I once told him Hong Kong is the best place to eat it and he keeps saying he’s going to visit one day. I hope he does – I’d love to go too.

The youngest – my daughter, now three – also adores this soup and can eat about as much as much as Jake and me combined. She also slurps the loudest and has her own spoon now. We haven’t managed to persuade my firstborn yet, who regards it with deep suspicion. He sticks to sausages.

John Carlyle-Clark

We’d love to hear your stories

We will pay £25 for every Letter to, Playlist, Snapshot or We love to eat we publish. Write to Family Life, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU or email Please include your address and phone number © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

via Art and design: Photography | Thanks for reading Jay


About jayclappphotography

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Posted on May 11, 2013, in Photography News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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