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GCSE’s


My mum has continued to impress with her attitude towards Monday night’s break in. Although naturally a bit shaken up by being burgled while she was downstairs watching TV, she is simply ‘ not going to think about what might have happened ‘ if she’d come out of the sitting room when the intruder or intruders were there and has decided instead to put her energies into praying for the little b…….s who did it – she’s much nicer than me.   When I tell DD about her grandma’s prayers she clutches her heart, and says ‘ OMG, she’s so cuuuuuuute! ‘. DD loves both babies and old people in equal measure and we have on occasion followed particularly adorable examples of the latter around supermarkets as they myopically pick out their favourite biscuits, entirely unaware of the teenage girl cooing ‘ Ah look, they can’t read the packet, that’s so cuuuuuute!’ a few feet away.  This week there will be few opportunities for stalking old people as DD has her second batch of GCSE language exams – French and Spanish. She is sat at the kitchen table with me now, trying to learn her Spanish and refusing to listen to my advice as to the best way to remember things you are studying. ‘  Say something for funny for my blog ‘ I ask.  I won’t repeat her response.

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DS has invented a new word – ‘ crutching’ to describe getting around on the crutches he has been issued with following a nasty injury sustained during last weekend’s rugby tournament. X-rays examined by a rather young looking doctor ( well, young to me but these days many people in positions of responsibility are  ) after a long, typically purgatorial wait in A and E revealed no bones were broken and analysis by the Bristol physio later in the week diagnosed a tear of the muscle in his hip, very painful and resulting in a 6 week break from his beloved game. He is handling the situation well so far but this may be due in part to the high doses of pain killers he is taking plus the fact that he is not alone in his temporarily disabled state.  Right now he is in the lounge with 4 of his mates, 2 of whom are also on crutches ( more rugby injuries ) and as half term has just begun and bedtimes this week therefore flexible, I am issuing stern warning about not drinking whilst on medication as beers have magically appeared to fuel the evenings get together.

DD is with them and noise levels are high, though I suspect she is not detailing them with her latest thoughts on Careers For Girls we discussed earlier this week following a discussion with her friend R during a clearly less than absorbing Physics lesson. ‘ Just get pregnant with a fit person’s baby, no matter how old they are, then they’ll have no excuse not to see you ‘. ‘ Who are you thinking of? ‘ I enquire calmly as I am hoping she is winding me up and am not about to oblige by entertaining her with a feminist rant about pregnancy no longer being an acceptable career choice for girls. ‘  Bradley Cooper, Channing Tatum, Aron Johnson, Alex Pettifer, Zac Effron or Daniel Radcliffe. What do you think?’ ‘ Well…’ I wrack my brains for a response….’ They all seem like nice young men but let’s wait until you’ve got your GCSE’s and A Levels out of the way before deciding which celebrity should impregnate you. Speaking of which, have you done your homework? ‘.  DD frowns at me but heads upstairs without protest to her books and I am left shaking my head and asking the dog, not for the first time, ‘ What is she like? ‘


 

This Thursday the GCSE results came out and amid the usual furore of news headlines, analysis and debate about the state of the nation’s education system, DS opened the brown envelope we had been waiting all day to open and I held my breath for longer than I am accustomed to. The news was good. Phew. He has done well and I am happy and relieved, particularly with his B in maths thanks to www.stuckonhomework.com – I am a proud mummy on all counts. So when he asked if ‘ a few ‘ of his mates could come round for pre-Motion ( pronounced Moshun? as if it were a question if you are a Bristol teenager ) drinks then I could hardly say no. How many I enquired? ‘ Oh, just the usual, you know, J, J, K, you know ‘. I don’t in fact know how many ultimately turned up as I lost count of the loud, ebullient youths going in and out the front door as they arrived, departed to get beer, returned, took over the kitchen, lounge, bedrooms and bathroom with their newly large man bodies, but what was probably no more than 12 seemed like 50. They’re so BIG. ‘ Is it ok if H stays tonight? ‘ asked DS. ‘ Just H? ‘ ‘ Well maybe J as well, but that’s it ‘.

The GCSE celebrants left in taxis about 9.30 and I began Operation Clear-up which lasted about the same time as the visit, ie. 2 hours, opening windows to get rid of the particular and clingy smell that is the combination of testosterone, beer and deodorant, before finally falling into bed shortly before midnight. Only to be woken at 2am by a collection of voices and laughter and tugging sounds at the back door. I stomped downstairs and let in what seemed like about 20 boys but was in fact upon a head count 7, drunk but all capable of speech, normal movement and good manners and no one looking like they might be sick. So I set about finding sleeping space and bedding for them as they moved from room to room deciding who was sleeping where and with whom, climbing in and out of the various bedding options on offer like large, tipsy puppies, their loud young men voices filling the air with the same jokes and insults about each other’s physical attributes and sexual orientation they have been making for the past 5 years. They were still jubilant, but tired and so asleep within the hour, not a problem if you are a 16 year old facing a long lie-in. I on the other am some considerable distance from my youth and not so blessed. At work by 9, I spent the day drinking strong coffee and avoiding looking in any mirrors in case I caught sight of the bags under my eyes.  And of course telling everyone I spoke to how proud I am of my son and his GCSE results.


Sunday, I’m In the car with my son on the way to the tip – 10 more bags of garden rubbish, another back breaking but eminently satisfying afternoon in the garden watched calmly by two stretched out cats and a sleepy dog – and he’s on the phone. ‘ Hey, you’re fraping me, I know you’re fraping me, get off now I’m coming round! ‘. Turns out Fraping means facebook raping, ie. he has left his facebook open at his friend’s house and K is now happily updating DS’s status with a series of what I imagine are typically incriminating and disgusting messages. Teenage boys are many things good and bad, and one of those things is definitely disgusting, a conclusion arrived at after years of close proximity with said creatures and recently captured so well by telly drama, The Inbetweeners. I watched both series with my son, avoiding any eye contact during scenes of a sexual nature, in particular those involving frantic teenage masturbation and we both laughed a lot. They really got it right, the awkwardness, cruelty and pain of adolescence mixed in with some truly, stomach churningly disgusting behaviour and the odd dollop of sweetness.

In case you didn’t know The Inbetweeners movie has just come out and both my teens and most of their mates have already been to see it – unlike my good self who is reluctant to drop 20 quid plus in Vue on nearly 2 hours of four drunk 18 year old lads on holiday in Malia even if it is funny – and it’s a hit. When DS and his mates returned from watching it he said ‘ It’s so funny, seriously funny. ..but I couldn’t watch it with you…’ Why not?  I enquired, we had after all watched 2 series together. ‘ Oh you know, it would just be really embarrassing being at the cinema with your mum watching it…’ ‘ Because of all the w…ing and stuff you mean? ‘, asked his friend J – nervous laughter and much looking at feet from everyone present apart from me. ‘ I don’t need to see it ‘ I say, “ I can just watch you lot. Well, some bits, others I hope I never see. Goodnight, be quiet and don’t make a mess ‘, and I leave my own gang of Inbetweeners to it.


Friday night and my DS is out celebrating the end of GCSEs with a group of his friends.  In the week that saw the publication of yet another report detailing the dangerous rise in teenage drinking, I am prepared for the worst when he appears in the kitchen dressed in his going out clothes, a vapour trail of hair product and deodorant behind him.

‘ We’re going to celebrate the end of our exams, can I have some money please? ‘  ‘ Where are you going?’ I am expecting the mumbled name of some tenacious teenager who has somehow persuaded his or her poor parents to let them hold a party where much excessive drinking and unsuitable jolly japes will take place. ‘ Nando’s ‘.    ‘Oh ‘.  I am thrown for a moment but recover quickly.  ‘ But where are you going after Nando’s? ‘ I have him now.  ‘ Home. J is staying, his parents are away and I said you wouldn’t mind. So can I have 20 quid please? ‘ I hand the money over happily, it’s  a small price to pay for a celebratory night of fine dining with one’s companions, and think about the contrast between this Friday night and the one about 18 months ago when I received a call from a friend of DS informing me that  DS ‘ wasn’t very well ‘ due to ‘ er, you know, too much alcohol ‘. I was surprised by the news as he had left the house less than 45 minutes earlier to head to the downs ‘ to hang out ‘, so much damage had been done in a short time. We established he was conscious, sitting propped up against a tree being poorly and had consumed 3 cans of lager and about half a ( small ) bottle of vodka.   I fetched him home and mopped his brow while he groaned ‘ Why do I feel so bad, why do I feel so bad? ‘ Like the rest of us DS learnt the hard way that evening that what seems like the best fun ever can rapidly turn into a nightmare of head spinning, sickness and occasionally A & E, something obviously forgotten by hundreds of lashed up Take That fans Old Enough To Know Better this week.

DS returns at the appointed hour, ie. 11 o clock, barely even smelling of booze and looking every inch the model teen. Something I doubt he is going to replicate when he goes to Newquay in a few weeks – oh God.


I got so worked up before my A Level history that my mum went out and bought me a packet of fags to calm my nerves.  Half way through the kids’ GCSEs and things are surprisingly peaceful in our house. My teens require food, sleep and sympathy for their exam state but fortunately no nicotine. My DS used our new website, www.stuckonhomework.com to do his maths ( I know it’s a plug but it really works ) while DD, who is sitting 3 science modules, figures she can always re-sit if things go badly and could I pleeeeease just go away ‘ And yes, I will do some revision when I’m ready, stop nagging! ‘ So just as I was congratulating myself on a calm, stress free house with both teens present and correct in their rooms while I head off to bed at 11pm on Saturday night  ( sad I know but I am 103 ), five teenage friends of my DS traipse through the back door, one of whom  – J – is covered in blood.

It transpires that he had been kicked in the face by a lad whose brother he had brawled with at a party earlier in the evening and amongst other minor cuts and bruises he has a small but deep cut under his eye which needs stitches. I clean it up as best I can and make the usual mummy noises about being lucky no one was carrying a knife and how martial artists always say the best weapon you have are your feet because they will take you away from trouble and ..They all nod politely but I know my words are falling on deaf adolescent ears – they are young and so think they are invincible.

Contemplating his eye in my make-up mirror J says ‘ Chicks dig scars ‘ and they all laugh.


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.

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