I sit at the big table and look at him moving around the kitchen and measure my own height against the cupboards, and it seems I am not as tall as I thought I was.
I tell him to be careful on the bike, because kids are harder to see than adults; and he tells me I am, by the same token, just as hard to see as he is.
His shoes are now bigger than mine (and I have long feet).
He wears my old jackets.
But tomorrow, when he accompanies me to the teaching awards ceremony in Canberra, he will wear a second-hand cream jacket his friend bought him at Savers, his new skinny black jeans, and a black shirt — and red Converse sneakers. I was going to save money, but eventually went shopping and bought a new dress. Locally made, locally sold, and, given that it is a wrap-around jersey number, amazingly flattering. It is red, black and white paisely print, with a deep black hem slightly curved around at the front, so we will be colour co-ordinated to the max.
I thought about buying a new suit — I have one basic black one which is now four years old — but didn't want to spend as much money as would take to get a really good one. And in any case, I'm not really sure that heavily tailored look suits me. Anyway, I have gone with this look (no. 12 is closest in design to mine, and if they had had this one in stock, I probably would have chosen this).
But in case I think I am not heavily enough tailored when I shake hands with Julia Gillard tomorrow, I just have to remember the words of the Sprinkle website:
Welcome to the world of Madam Mafia
....inspired by all those passionate, fiery European women who are not afraid to speak their minds!! Think Sophia Loren and Isabella Rossellini....
This collection is not for the faint hearted. Madam Mafia is a strong and yet feminine woman, who wants to stand out from the crowd. She is glamorous and stylish....a woman who knows and gets what she wants.
Great! Textiles with text! Dresses with attitude!
I bought it at Lupa, a little shop around the corner that features local designers. It was the first place I went to: freezing cold until she turned on the heater outside the changing cubicle. Turns out the owner is seriously thinking about going back to university to do her BA...
Ideally, of course, in our consumer, occasion-driven society, I would have bought new shoes, too. But I have perfectly good ones to wear. I did go shopping with Joel for tights, though, and was tossing up the various textured and coloured options. I chose very sheer black ones, and showed Joel all the control options for holding your stomach in. "You don't need that", he said.
When it was his turn, another momentous discovery: he is now too big for the "boys" section of Best and Less and K-Mart, and we ended up at Just Jeans, where he bought not the smallest pair of men's jeans. They were way too long, but I said not to worry, that I would take up the hems. Indeed, there was an ancient Singer machine in the shop, but it was Sunday, and no one was on duty.
So this afternoon, before it got too dark, and it got too hard to sew black denim, I got out my ancient little Elnita SP sewing machine. I was properly brought up to sew my own clothes, but these days, tend to leave even my mending till my mother comes to visit and offers to sew for me. She sewed all Joel's clothes for the first eleven years of his life (highlights include beautiful smocked baby nightgowns; a long, green, fur-trimmed dressing-gown; and indeed, the two waistcoats she made recently to his design). But I found I could remember how to thread the machine without thinking, threading the cotton through spools and levers as if I had performed that ritual every day of my life. I started to fantasise about sewing some more, especially next year, when I am on leave, and rediscovered the smell of my hot little machine, and the cotton dust that gathers around the bobbin, and the satisfaction of a neatly pressed hem as you stitch it into place. A wonderful throwback to my mother's house: ironing board and sewing machine at the ready, and the aromatic smell of warm cotton filling the house.