I write these words in a house empty of teenagers. No music, voices, slamming doors, trails of large, adolescent forms up and down the stairs, clothes, make-up and damp towels strewn across floors. No requests for lifts or money or both, no last minute sleepovers or late night meals required because ‘ I am a teenage, bottomless eating machine that needs 5 meals a day and I’m starving. Again ‘. Tonight the house is quiet and I’m off duty.
They are both away, she in Majorca with her dad and he on schools rugby tour in S.Africa and I have a whole week off parenting. Bliss. One of the mums at the S.Africa send off said ‘ I’m going to miss little Jonny so much, I hate it when he’s away..’ and though I nodded with seeming empathy the truth is, I love these rare periods without my darling pair. It’s not just the massive reduction in my domestic load, down by, oh I would say, 85%, but also the sheer relief of just not being responsible for them. Not worrying about where they are, where they’re supposed to be, whether they’re drinking, whether they’re drunk, why they seem upset, why they won’t eat, why they won’t stop eating, why they’re not answering their phones, what will happen if they don’t do enough revision – for one week only, Not My Responsibility. And it feels good, I tell you.
Then my iphone beeps, incoming text from DD. ‘ Miss you a lot xxxxxxxxx ‘. Curse the wretched, digital umbilical chord that is the mobile phone, now I know that she’s missing me I feel bad about not missing her. But the feeling passes quickly when she texts me that’s she’s on her way to the square for a night of traditional Majorcan festivities which include large amounts of sangria being consumed and children tying fireworks to their heads before running around amongst the crowd – eat your heart out elf and safety – and it’s Not my Responsibility to keep her safe. Thank God under the circumstances. So I text her the usual warnings about strange men and the perils of alcohol and then I turn my phone off and head for the sofa, free for once from sprawling teenage bodies and occupied only by one small, neat tabby cat. Budge up Boo.