December has begun and I have started my Christmas shopping – online only so far but I have to build up to Actual Shopping at this time of year. The teens want clothes mostly with theatrical and baking supplies for DD and ( much more expensive this but his dad is doing the honours) a car for DS who turns 17 at the end of the month. Aside from the inevitable fears about young men on four wheels I am also sad that we will now lose one of our most consistent chatting areas. Kids open up in cars – I don’t know why exactly but tongue tied teens will suddenly rediscover the power of speech when in transit within a small space with their mothers, to say nothing of the intelligence gathering opportunity and entertainment value of eavesdropping on a group of them talking in a semi-unguarded fashion while I pretend that I’m listening to the radio – I have learnt many things about my two and their friends on various car journeys. But it’s the boys’ banter I will miss most. I have been transporting my son and roughly the same group of his mates around for years and rarely do they fail to lift my spirits. True, they are all idiots, but they have that simplistic, blokey, nothing too serious approach to conversation that can be very soothing in a stressful day. I return to trusty old Amazon before premature nostalgia engulfs me and wonder if DS would like a personalised key ring with a picture of me on it to go with his new car?
Tuesday at 6pm, the phone rings as I am driving home. It is DD. She asks if I would like some of the ( very nice ) supper she is currently cooking when I get in from work? Absobloodylutely! As I savour every mouthful of the food I Did Not Have To Cook I tell my son that I now love my daughter far more than him and will be leaving her the vaster portion of my vast estate when I finally shuffle off this mortal coil. Unless he also feels like rustling up some tasty treat for me one night this week? He smiles sweetly. ‘ It’s never going to happen old woman, we both know that. Can I have some money for a Dominoe’s, I’m still hungry ‘.
When I finally walk through the door on Friday evening at 9pm after a very long but enjoyable day in the Nursery Pavilion at Lords cricket ground, yes you’ve guessed it, exhibiting www.stuckonhomework.com, DD has left me a treat of 5 empty WKD bottles on the kitchen table rather than a home cooked meal. She and several friends have gone to a local party which I have seen advertised on the teen hostess’ facebook page. Hummmm, I tell DD on Thursday evening, 24 hours before the planned celebration, that’s gonna end in tears ‘ Why? You always think the worst, just because there’s a lot of people going doesn’t mean anything will go wrong ‘. Back to Friday and I have arranged to pick up DD and her sleepover friend R at midnight, so kill the next few hours with a bit of light cleaning and telly and standing in the back garden trying to work out where the sound of loud music is emanating from – it can’t be the party, that’s a good half mile away. The phone goes at 11.30. ‘ Yeah, it’s me, can you come and get us now cos the party’s over, the neighbours called the police because of the noise ‘. Or then again, maybe it can. ‘ Delighted to ’ I say, ‘ The police eh? ‘ But DD has already hit the end call button cutting me off mid-gloat, so I head out into the night to pick up two barely dressed teenage girls, thanking the publicity department at facebook for providing me with further ammo in the ‘why you will never be able to have a party, ever ‘ debate.
At every teenage party there is some unfortunate soul who spends the vast part of the evening with their head down the toilet and last night was my son’s turn, as I discovered in a call from his girlfriend just before midnight prior to her very kind mum bringing him ( and another boy with his head in a bucket ) home. He was feeling a bit better by then although extremely pale, a ghostly hue he awoke with at 6am this morning. I packed him off with a toastie and a plastic bag ( just in case ) on the coach to Southampton where he was playing in a rugby tournament while I headed off to Frampton Country Fair for a day exhibiting www.stuckonhomework.com while trying to stop our gazebo from blowing away.
I return home early evening, about half an hour before DS who staggers through the door demanding food and sympathy for his poor physical state, which I duly serve up with a small side order of telling off for last night’s ‘ disgraceful behaviour ‘. ‘It wasn’t my fault, I was dehydrated from going to the gym just before, I didn’t drink that much, honestly ‘. As he did indeed go to the gym just before the party and it might just be true, I decide to give DS the benefit of the doubt on this occasion and leaving him to his self-inflicted sorrows I head off to the lounge to watch X-Factor with DD. We cuddle up on the sofa and agree that Kelly Rowland is hot and Gary Barlow isn’t bad either, although definitely one for the older lady. I comment on her less than immaculately smooth legs, very unusual for C and she informs me she is ’ growing fur for the winter ‘. Very sensible I say, join the club.
Last Sunday my daughter insisted on reading my blog for the first time and I admit I was nervous. She pursed her lips and studied the laptop screen intently, she smiled a couple of times and then laughed a bit. ‘ Which ones am I in? ‘ She scrolled down to her bits and read them all, her expression inscrutable now. Then she said ‘ It’s fine, you can write it. But I will be reading it every Sunday from now on so no sexual incantations please ‘. My guess is she meant shenanigans but I was seeing a small coven of witches around a large, bubbling cauldron solemnly reading out passages from the karma sutra, until DD said. ‘ You’re on twitter too aren’t you? ‘ I nodded my assent mutely. ‘ Then I shall follow you ‘. And she did, spending the next half hour laughing at my ‘sad’ tweets – ‘ Anyone out there a Larry David fan? ‘ being her personal favourite . “ Ah mama, you can’t be surprised no one answered that! ‘ and retweeting ones about her to her friends ‘ My teen daughter is driving me mad! ‘ causing a roar of twitter laughter from her fellow teens. So this is for you C, thanks for the material.
Today my daughter has been a dream. We held hands and cuddled at the Mall as we stocked up on back to school supplies and bras – for her not me, it’s like living with Dolly Parton on a cosmetic surgery binge these past few months – and she insisted on buying me a rather delicious little takeaway lunch from M & S. The reason for this sudden burst of affection was my tearful admission in the car outside the Mall that all the last minute to-ing and fro-ing over DS’s 6th form choice had taken it’s toll and I was feeling well and truly rubbish, at which point she shrugged off her stroppy teenage daughter mantel and adopted one of kind, sweet, loving daughter instead and took me under her wing. Offering up a combination of real therapy tips and Harry Potter wisdom ‘ Be careful to exercise curiosity with caution ‘ not relevant in this instance we agreed but a good one to throw into the pot anyway – with distracting observations such as ‘ The communists are the same as the conservatives aren’t they? ‘ and gentle teasing about my supposedly funny ways ( it’s not normal to engage in conversation with people who serve you in shops apparently ), she took my mind off my worries for a good couple of hours and we had the nicest time.
When we got back I told her I was going to write my blog and she pinched my cheeks in a coochie coo way and said sweetly ‘ Ah, why? Nobody reads it mama, no one’s interested in your life …’ I told her she was wrong and in fact nearly XXXX people have read my words. ‘ Ah, no they haven’t, but it’s so sweet that you think they have ‘ and she patted me on the head gently as if not wanting to disturb my elderly delusions.
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.