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?
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? ‘
I am blaming the unfeasibly hot October weather for my general inertia today. Apart from doing several loads of washing (because only a fool or a woman with an empty laundry basket would ignore such perfect drying conditions) I have mostly been sitting in the sun or lying lightly panting on the sofa watching my current guilty TV pleasure – Judge Judy – ‘ The people are real, the cases are real, the rulings are final…’ Having attended parties the past 2 evenings DD has also been resting most of the day, including a session sunbathing on the flat roof outside her bedroom window while DS has spent the day at his girlfriend’s house, mostly in or beside their outdoor pool. He returns exhausted from the day’s efforts, incapable of even basic speech and attempts to make polite conversation are met with barely audible, monosyllabic replies. His friend K who lives down the road, 17 this Friday just gone and getting closer to six foot every day, arrives dressed in a monkey onesey, a kind of giant animal babygro which is a favourite mode of home attire for many of the teens. It is still hot and I cannot believe that K isn’t overheating inside his simian suit. “ Nah, it’s fine, I’m really comfortable in it…’ ‘ Nice beard ‘, I say. K is shaping his latest facial hair into a rather fetching, narrow strip running across his jawline . He strokes it carefully in an Austin Powers kind of a way – ‘ Thank you, I’m working on it ‘.
Some time later and we are all watching the X-Factor, shouting at the telly as the judges yet again make some bad decisions ( ie. ones we don’t agree with ) about who to put through and who to send home. ‘ Noooooooooo! ‘ shouts DD, as Louis Walsh sends home Terry the scaffolder, tearfully shattering his middle aged dreams. ‘ He can’t send Terry home, I love Terry! ‘ protests DD. “ He’s crap ‘, says DS bluntly, ‘ No one’s gonna buy his records ‘. ‘ I would ‘ says DD, staunch in her defence of the luckless Terry as he joins a long list of X factor rejects we have loved and lost and quickly forgotten. When I say goodnight to DS later I ask him what his grey and pink animal onesey is – DD’s is a cow – ‘ It’s an elephant isn’t it? ‘. ‘ No, it’s a rabbit. Can you leave me alone please, I’m very tired ‘. So I head for bed, letting teenage sleeping bunnies lie.
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.
A good couple of days away exhibiting www.stuckonhmework.com at Olympia and I return last night to discover that DS new rugby team ( he’s a 6th former so is now playing for the 1st’s ) beat one of the top sides in the country. As the house is still standing and there have been no incidents, major or minor in my absence, I head to bed happily where I am kept awake for the next couple of hours by the sounds of 4 sober but loud, young male voices excitedly revisiting great moments from the match and 2 young female ones ( DD has her friend B over ) laughing loudly about things that teenage girls laugh loudly about, and I do not get to sleep until later than I require which probably explains why I awake this morning somewhat tired and irritable. This increases throughout the day encouraged by the weather, ie. it’s raining – again, the amount of housework required to ensure our home meets basic EU hygiene standards, ie. many hours worth and the number of domestic appliances that have decided to break down on this particularly sodden Sunday, ie. 2, the dishwasher and tumble dryer.
I am essentially a nice person so endeavour not to take my increasingly bad mood out on those around me and manage to neither snap nor snarl for a good part of the day, but at approx 3.30 pm this comes to an end when the teens start rowing about who has TV and sofa rights and within the space of half an hour I have yelled at the kids, shouted at the dog who keeps trying to savage the end of the hoover attachment as I vacuum the house and been extremely curt with the unfortunate cold caller who blithely asks me in strong, semi-decipherable English if I am having a nice day. DD does a less than flattering but I suspect rather accurate impression of me saying’ Look, I’m very tired and in no mood to deal with this! ‘ before persuading me that what I need to improve my mood is a trip to the large, local supermarket to buy some cheap leggings and ‘ You can do your week’s shop, you’ll like that ‘. I didn’t like it as it happens, crowded supermarkets on wet, Sunday afternoons not being on my Top 10 list of Places I like To Be. DD helps load and unload everything in and out of the car, pointing out that I look ‘ old and feeble ‘ when carrying the heavy shopping bags into the house which makes me feel much better – not, so I head out for a restorative walk with the dog. 15 minutes later and the heavens open, quickly drenching me and the dog and I trudge home, my steamed up glasses surrounded by the dripping frame of my synthetic, fur trimmed hood.
It’s 8 o clock now and the teens are out having pizza with their dad, the fridge and cupboards are stocked, the house is clean and the dog and I are dry. Last minute crises not withstanding, I have survived wet Sunday and have the new series of Curb Your Enthusiasm to look forward to – any Larry David fans out there? ( Please see previous posting My Daughter Discovers My Blog if you want to know why this is quite funny ).
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.