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.
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.
, Summer Holiday
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.