Family Life

I don’t want to squawk about it

What do squabbling seagulls and self-doubting daughters have in common? Read on

It was the raucous squabbling sounds that drew my wife and I to our kitchen window. There they were, at least 20 seagulls swooped down from a dull grey sky and gathered on the bend of the road opposite our house. Making quite the racket.

A large scrawny fragment of what looked like a chicken carcass lay there on the drab tarmacadam surface and they were arguing over it.

Before we moved to our coastal home 11 years ago, what would evoke the seaside for me more than anything was the sight and sound of languid seagulls catching the salted breeze high in the wailing sky, looping high and low on outstretched wings.

But day on day, you get used to these creatures of the maritime skies and shoreline. Up close, they are big and robust, their long, crooked yellow bills contantly pecking and poking for sustenance. Wherever they can find it.

I still like them, and their uniquely plaintive cries, I just see and hear them every day is all. I don’t see the magic anymore. Take it for granted.

All of life was there outside our window now: the loudest ones, the tougher ones claiming first dibs, close to the object of desire and calling the shots.

Just outside them were the narky ones not letting them away with it, noisily demanding their share, but not willing to take them on, gull to gull. But making such a nuisance of themselves they would have to be paid off in some way.

Just outside this inner circle were the plucky but not foolish optimists, who would crane in and attempt a nip at the carcass before being driven back, But still they hovered, not giving up yet.

Outside again were the more timid ones, squawking away, calling forlornly for a fair divide, but lacking all conviction. The vocal majority.

On the periphery were the quieter ones, dabbing around, ready to take any crumbs that might be left over. But expecting nothing, and already pecking around on the grass verges. Never diners at the top table, they were well used to surviving in the favelas beyond.

To us, this carcass was rubbish, probably discarded in some bin, which one of the more adventurous of these birds had managed to peck the lid off, and plunged in to grab it. And had probably dropped it onto the road just now.

But to our aquatic friends, this was a precious haul. Worth fighting and quarreling over.

It’s a matter of perspective. How we frame things.

Any sometimes it’s good to to reframe the picture, big or small.

To reframe a world view that no longer sees the magic in the ordinary and instead looks for the ordinary in the magic. Takes it for granted.

The whole thing made me think about my daughter, and the rather negative view she has of the world at the moment. No amount of telling her how pretty she is, how talented she is, seems to help her, for now, to reframe her views.

Our little Miss Sunshine has gone to the darker side, wondering already why we should bother about anything, since we are all going to die anyway.

Doesn’t keep her from her regular swoops on the treats stash all the same. Gliding in with a conviction to rival any seagull predator.

A cheap shot, of course. But it really is mindboggling to observe the obstacles that well-fed, well-looked after, beautiful, talented and perfectly intelligent children without any obvious disadvantages, can throw across their own paths.

Yes we are all going to die, but as the great Leonard Cohen put it, we don’t have to participate so enthusiastically in the process. So much to do and enjoy in the meantime.

It’s amazing how, as teens and adults, we take so many things for granted in the world. And they lose their magic. Maybe like my once romantic view of seaside living, and seagulls.

Maybe I too could do with a reframing of how I see things. See the magical where it is, and so what if is every day?

I am thinking now of my Dad, and an episode when I wasn’t much older than our daughter K is now.

Looking back on it now, I believe I was going through something maybe not unlike what K is experiencing. Existential angst, but without any understanding of what I was experiencing, or why. And what to do about it.

I was just moping about, listless and lacking in motivation.

Sound familiar?

One day in the kitchen, I finally piped up to tell Dad I was feeling depressed.

He looked into my eyes, over and back, taken aback, and struggled for words.

But I could see that he was trying to understand, trying to find something to say to me, even it was from the perspective of a man who went out working in the world at a young age, and had just gotten on with things ever since.

Or so it appeared to me.

According to my teenage framing of my Dad’s way of being, how could he know what was going on for me?

Here, to me, was a man who just got on with life, and was not someone I would discus how he or I felt about anything.

I gave no thought then to how this good and decent man had found the inner resources to cope when his adored wife of 20 years, first of all became seriously ill, and then died.

He had to reframe his whole take on family life and move from being the peripheral, to us kids, traditional bread winner, to being Mom and Dad to all six of us, with the youngest not yet four.

And made a pretty good fist of it.

Anyway, he looked at me across the kitchen then, and finally blurted out the immortal words:

“But, you shouldn’t be depressed.”

And the mad thing was, his words made me laugh out loud. Not at him. I thought the words were banal, daft even, but they somehow cut through my angst and tickled my funny bone. Which hadn’t been tickled for some time.

He meant those words so sincerely, and was trying his hardest to reach me. Trying to get me to reframe my world view.

I laughed then, and he laughed too, probably not knowing at what, just glad to see me snapping out of my angst. Getting on with things.

We didn’t stay to watch the outcome of the seagull dispute. I guess we assumed, as Lennie Cohen once observed in his song Everybody Knows, that particular fight was already fixed, since:

“The poor stay poor, the rich get rich

That’s how it goes,

Everybody knows”

Even seagulls.

Maybe my daughter isn’t the only one who needs to reframe their perspective.

  • If you enjoyed what you have just read,  try another one! Try them all! Seriously, follow my blog and you won’t miss out again. Thanks for reading


Shank You Very MuchMission MindfulnessMother of TeenagersJakiJellzShank You Very MuchMonday Stumble Linky




44 comments on “I don’t want to squawk about it

  1. Intelligent, thoughtful, insightful and sensitive, as ever. And I managed to get past my pathological hatred of seagulls to read it! (I was born and brought up in Dover, one of the busiest ports in the world at that time, and the squawking menace were everywhere!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. They’re not too pretty up close are they Clive? Thanks for getting over your hatred and persevering!


  3. Seán Mac Aoire

    I liked it, despite our contrary opinions on the merits of our shared pater familias. It was a moment, the like of which I never shared. Perhaps I was too gripped by those teenage angsts to see them. He is instantly palpable in your descriptions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Sean


  5. RaisieBay

    I remember that angst too, maybe it’s just something that we all have to go through. Your Dad sounds like an admirable man, and I’m sure your daughter will feel the same about you one day. Reframing your views sounds like something we should all do sometimes. I have started to feel like I don’t notice the every day things that used to please me so much. Thanks for the inspiration.


    • Thanks for your lovely comment. Yeah, I guess there’s no escaping teenage angst. I think it’s the price we pay for asking the hard questions, the why am, Who Am I and why should I, and all the rest. Reframing situations and trying to be more positive and optimistic is a noble pursuit


  6. I love the new look of your site Enda! Once again a thoughtful and thought provoking article. I absolutely went through that teenaged angst, it even came with a Depeche Mode backing track (hadn’t heard of Leonard Cohen then 😊). I think sometimes I still experience it and so reframing is a weekly or daily endeavour, particularly now that I’m fast approaching middle age! Lovely to see a glimpse of a positive moment with your father, may you have many of those with your own children. #linkyofthedaynotsurewhich!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Liberty. You are the first to comment on my new-look site. I really like it, even if there are one or two things I would change, but am limited by it being a free site. Thanks once more for your always engaging, thoughtful and encouraging comments.


  7. blogofdadjames

    Beautiful post, really made me think. I love the Cohen quote! #DreamTeam linky

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a lovely redesign! Looks really spiffy. 🙂

    All this is part of the teenage experience, but your dad’s response is priceless! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for complimenting the redesign: I’m delighted with it. Yeah, my Dad, old school but good school! Thank you


  9. I love this post so very much for all sorts of reasons – great writing, philosophy, the fact you love your daughter, memories, open, honest and all the things I like in a blog post #TriumphantTales

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I live in North Devon, were we have loads of vseagulls, I used to get annoyed when they gobbled up all of the food that I had put about for the garden birds, but now I have come to accept that they are only trying to survive just like everyone else #mudpiefriday@_karendennis

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Brilliantly observed and written. I think you have just retold a tale of misunderstanding between every parent and teen but in a totally unique way. Loved it! #TweensTeensBeyond

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you so much Catie. What a lovely compliment.


  13. That is a brilliant post! I absolutely loved it Enda. I have teenagers that walk the line between depression and joy; it’s like a bad apple in a glittery jar. Your dad sounds like mine from a stoic generation that is lost on the young. Fab. Fab. Fab. #tweensteensbeyond


  14. He was that, and yes, the kids of today don’t do stoic Sophie! Thanks for your lovely comments.


  15. I started reading this thinking ok he is going to make me jealous about his sea view – and you did obviously because that is my dream but as always there is so much more to your posts. I love the stories, the repetition of history – because of course it never changes – just the way it is handled and I can imagine K writing a similar tale about you in a few years. Love the revamp of the site and the iconic black and white pencil image. Perfect. #TweensTeensBeyond

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jo. I do hope she remembers me well, at least sometimes!! Glsd you like the site revamp – pleased with it. Thanks for your always positive comments


  16. It’s true that life will eventually end, but I am enthusiastically living it! Hopefully K will move through this stage quickly and return to her sunny disposition. #GlobalBlogging


  17. Love the philosophy in this post Enda! Always a great read from you. Thanks for sharing with #TriumphantTales.


  18. Thank you Jaki


  19. viewfromthebeachchair

    I think every teen goes through this. It is good that you see it. #thatsatsesh

    Liked by 1 person

  20. What a way to put it. I have a teenager, and that existential angst (along with the need to argue everything I say) drives me crazy. It is something they just have to work out themselves tho, isn’t it? #blogcrush


    • Ultimately I suppose it is!!! Wish there was an easier way though. Existential angst I understand but being so rude to Mom and Dad!!oh well, at least we’re not the only ones!


  21. Our little Miss Sunshine has gone to the darker side, wondering already why we should bother about anything, since we are all going to die anyway —– this was so me as a child, makes total sense. I hope the anger dies down as even though I have depression and anxiety I try and be mindful that there is beauty in everything X #theatsesh

    Liked by 1 person

  22. diynige

    Beautiful your dad sounds a cool dude! Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Wow Enda, love the new look of your blog. It really suits. We were actually at the beach today and saw seagulls fighting over food in the same way that you have described it. They always seem a bit too boisterous for my liking, as much as I love the idea of them. Pretty sure everyone goes through a bit of teen angst. Your dad sounds like a legend. What brilliant words. Thanks for joining us for the #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Great to discover this blog through #BlogCrush. You have a way with words! “Endastories” is very witty, as well as the tagline on your website.
    Reframing. Yes, something I need to do right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. #thesatsesh Enda, another classic. I love the vocabulary and indulgent adjectives of the seagulls, the concept of reframing and sadly your daughters current place on the map. Generally the journey can take a detour, especially in the teenage years. I hope she finds delight and thought in the mundane, much like you and the seagulls.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Yes we hope she will too. And she will. Thank you very much for your lovely comment


  27. Lucy At Home

    I think reframing things is definitely a skill that we all need to master – being able to step back and look at the context or dig deeper to find the route cause – adjusting our perspective can give clarity or at least make things seem not quite as black and white. I hope your daughter is okay – those teenage emotions are rough and I don’t envy her trying to work her way through it all! #blogcrush

    Liked by 1 person

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