According to news reports this week a mother in Ohio allegedly tried to run her teenage daughter over in the car park of their local Walmart following what was clearly a rather heated argument. The mom denies the charge of Aggravated Vehicular Assault and says she was simply trying to smack her daughter across the head through the window. Oh, that’s so much better m’am, assault without a vehicle is always preferable. Now, I know our unbelievably frustrating hormonal teenage daughters take us to dark places where reason and sanity no longer dwell, but trying to run them over seems a bit excessive. My own DD has entered a world of such extreme mood swings that I am being forced almost daily to find new reservoirs of patience in my dealings with her, lest I find myself gunning the engine in Tesco’s car park. This week saw me standing in the kitchen breathing slowly and deeply and repeating – “ Out with anger, in with love “ until the urge to brain DD with a large object passed. The cause of my state of heightened stress was DD’s latest outburst of shouting, pouting, door slamming, swearing and the ( getting very boring ) ‘ why you continually ruin my life ‘ tirade. Five minutes later she bounces into the kitchen and asks in her nicest voice ‘ So, how was your day? ‘. When I don’t respond perkily enough for her exacting teenage standards she glares at me and says ‘ God, what’s wrong with you, you’re so ratty all the time, are you menopausal or something…? ‘
‘ D’you fancy a trip to Tesco’s darling? ‘ I ask in my nicest voice.
It is 7pm on a damp Friday night. DD, 15 in a week, marches into the kitchen and announces ‘ I’m not vegetarian anymore and I’ve had my ear pierced again ‘. “ That’s nice ‘, I say somewhat weakly. ‘ So can I have chicken korma if we get curry tonight, can we get curry tonight, me and A are really hungry. Can we get it now? ‘. My DD is ruthless in her pursuit of any goal, and I mentally weigh up the cost of a takeaway for us all, as I am sure my DS and accompanying friend will also be on the verge of starvation having not eaten anything for at least an hour, against the cost to my sanity of trying to persuade them of the merits of some reheated lasagne. ‘ Curry it is ‘. ‘ Can you order it now? Me and A are going to M’s, and I need some money, I owe S a fiver and she’s going to be there. I’ll take it from your wallet ‘. She flounces out of the kitchen and my DS takes her place. He places his takeaway order and preferred time of delivery, ie. right now, and tries to persuade me that he needs ten quid for bus fare. ‘ Beer flavoured bus fare? ‘ I enquire. ‘ You’re not funny mama’, and he blows on my glasses, which he knows I hate as I look ridiculous when they’re steamed up. ‘ And you’re taking to rugby tomorrow, we’ve got to be at school for eight. Have you washed my kit? ‘ I have as it turns out, it is on the 12 foot high pile of clean laundry-waiting-to-be-put-away that is currently residing in the spare bedroom.
Like all working mums I have two full time jobs. My other one is Stuck on homework which reminds me, I must remember to do my top lip before the Daily Mirror press photo on Monday.
Saturday night and I am on a mobile phone talking to a teenage girl who is impersonating another teenage girl’s mother. It is somewhat surreal. ‘ But you sound so young…’ I keep saying. ‘ Really? ‘ She sounds genuinely surprised, this young girl pretending to be a grown-up. ‘ Well, my name is Sharon and I’m The Mother and they’re arriving any minute and shall I get her to call you when they get here?’ She repeats this sentence several times, she has clearly been told not to deviate from her Mother script.
The call with the mother impersonator is the culmination of an hour’s worth of parental detective work triggered by the refusal of an offer for a lift by DD and her friend R to the nice, quiet sleepover they are attending – alarm bell 1, teenagers NEVER turn down lifts – the unprompted offer from DD of the phone number I am now calling – alarm bell 2, teenagers NEVER willingly hand over parental contacts – and a story so full of holes and inconsistencies that I am tempted to sit DD down and give her a few tips on lying to mothers about one’s whereabouts based upon my own shameful teenage experiences – I would never have concocted something so complicated and unwieldy.
One quick phone call to R’s mother in which we quickly untangle this web of Saturday night teen deceit and I call back to inform the fake mother that R’s mum is on her way now to get the girls. I also ask her if she is aware that the landline number she has given me doesn’t tally with the address the girls are supposedly staying at, meaning she is not telling the truth about where she is calling from?
‘ Really? I don’t know why the number is wrong, that’s weird…’ She sounds genuinely surprised by this news and I must admit to a grudging respect for whoever I am talking to’s determination to stay in character regardless of the clear factual evidence to the contrary. When DS checks the number the next day we discover it belongs to a girl in his year who is a keen drama student and renowned for her acting skills. ‘ She’s really good ‘ he says. ‘ Not at mothers ‘. He smiles for the first time this pre-GCSE weekend and I stop worrying for at least a minute.
Spend the weekend shouting ‘Eh?’ at anyone who attempts a conversation with me and yelling ‘ You’ll have to speak up! ‘ at my DS who speaks in a low, barely decipherable teenage tone at the best of times, as I stupidly and against advice from my boyfriend decided upon a DIY ear wax removal job with some cotton buds. Plunged into almost instant deafness I head for Boots where I crane my head over the counter to hear the advice of the pharmacist who confirms that sticking cotton buds in one’s ears is not smart and I should try ear drops instead. Once administered I will need to wait a few days before the water logged sensation passes and hopefully my hearing returns.
‘ God, you’re really old! ‘, says DD after I bark ‘ Pardon? ‘ one too many times at her. ‘ Its wax, not old age, have you done your chemistry revision yet? ‘ Eh?’ she says, feigning deafness and walking out of the room.
Managed to resist the urge to watch The Wedding in my wedding dress, settling for my dressing gown instead as took advantage of a much need lie-in on the morning of the royal nuptials. The day passed off peacefully enough in our house, with 14 nearly 15 year old DD and I agreeing the dress looked lovely, she looked lovely, he was lovely and the whole thing was well, you know the rest. My 16 year old DS watched it for a few minutes in the morning ‘ Cos it’s a historical event, who cares what she’s wearing ‘ – apart from the whole world you mean, duh – then settled down to a day’s worth of GCSE revision. As I checked on him throughout the following 10 hours this involved: 3 episodes of 2 And A Half Men, an hour spent chucking a rugby ball round the garden with his friend J who came round to ‘revise together ‘, 4 meal breaks, a half hour trip to Tesco Express, an indeterminate amount of time spent on Facebook and a short kip in the afternoon. Any and all attempts to get him to focus were met with accusations of ‘ negativity’, something I am rather prone to apparently. ‘ So how much did you actually do today then? “ I enquire at 9 o clock that evening as I try and have a conversation with DS in his room.
‘ Over 2 hours ‘. ‘ And you’re happy with that? ‘ I ask. ‘ Stop being so negative, you’re always so negative ‘. ’ Well, tomorrow is another day ‘ I say brightly, ‘ What are your revision plans? ‘ ‘ You’re helping me with the war poems and J is coming round to do some science together and can I have a toastie please, I’ve hardly eaten anything all day & I’m really hungry. Shut the door on your way out ‘. 17 days until his first GCSE and counting, I hope the poor lamb doesn’t overdo it.