Grandchildren may be the reward for not murdering your teenagers
His phone (that I pay for) will bleep, buzz and on the odd occasion actually ring. “What do you want?” He’ll answer whilst going into another room. Wow! He actually talks to his mates no better than he does me. Assuming it’s one of his mates calling. “Mum, you need to take me out, now!” Pardon me! My once sweet, sensitive son seems to have forgotten his manners. And without an ounce of caring about whatever I was doing at that exact moment, he expects me to immediately surrender to his demands. I know how I’d like to take him out! Pass me the rifle.
I first became a mum in 1993, then again in 2000 and 2005. There wasn’t a particular reason for these large age-gaps. It was just how it turned out for me. At the age of 45, I’m now going through the last bout. That’s exactly what it feels like. A competitive fight. You’d think I’d be an expert by now, after all, I’ve already raised two teenage sons and I thought that I had heard it all. Seen it all. I’ve lost count of the times the stairs have been stomped on, bedroom doors being slammed and the occasional yelling of ‘I hate my life!’ And that was just me!
Parents have and always will be an embarrassment to their teenagers. Mine were to me. But my teenage son has taken this to a completely new level. Oh yes, apparently I am embarrassing just because I exist. I am not allowed to say anything positive never mind negative from the side lines during his football matches. Goodness no! Sometimes I dare to say “Well done son” or “Great pass” but only when he’s just out of ear shot. “When you pick me up later Mum, don’t pomp the horn, wait around the corner and message me when you get here” are the usual instructions that I’m given by my 14 year old. Of course darling, I wouldn’t want to embarrass you. Oh, wait a minute, I already do by breathing.
I taught my eldest son, then 15, a lesson in laundry once. Something he clearly didn’t think important enough to pass on to his youngest brother. All I asked of him, was to put his dirty laundry in the washing basket. I was not going to venture into the cess pit of that bedroom of his. Did he listen? Of course he didn’t. “Mummmmmmm! I’ve no clean boxers” came the shouts from upstairs one morning. Oh how I howled with laughter. And now the laughs are on me. My 14 year old keeps ‘losing’ his. And not just any old plain ones. I’m talking about his Calvin Klein’s that I was daft enough to spend £15 on each pair last Christmas. He’d actually asked for designer boxers the year before. Why the hell does a 13 year old need branded underwear? Who will ever see them apart from me and him? Don’t even go there! And so, stupidly I bought him 4 pairs and he literally has one left. How on earth do you lose underwear? Ask my son, because he’s an expert. “I’ve left them at my mates!” Great, some poor mum elsewhere now has the privilege of washing my son’s dirty undies and meanwhile, he is out in public going commando.
When I see toddlers having a tantrum in the supermarket I giggle to myself thinking thank goodness I’m out of that stage. But I’d go back in a flash. At least I knew where they were then. Now, I’ll admit at times, I have no clue where they are. This is perhaps the single most important thing about being a parent of teenagers. They don’t seem to be able to comprehend that, they’re our responsibility and when we don’t know where they are, it can appear as if we don’t care. It only seems like yesterday that my boys would love to curl up with me on the sofa to watch a film. Now I’m lucky if they’re even in the house, let alone the same room.
I wish I had advice for parents about to embark on the teenage years but sadly I don’t. Actually yes I have; run! Run for the hills right now! All I can tell you is that, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s tough but you will get through it. You will need strong wits and a damn good supply of wine. I recall with my eldest, now 26, that the arguing stopped when he became 18 and he has turned out to be a decent, hardworking and caring man. One thing I have learned over the years is that, by nature, teenagers are selfish, and the frightening thing is that this is actually a normal part of their development. You know the Bounty welcome pack you get in hospital when you’ve just had your baby? There should be a big, fat, red health warning in it! To quote one of my favourite comedians here, John Bishop was absolutely spot on when he once said “lovely baby, be a t*** one day!” Trust me. I know because I’ve had three of them! They do not have the capacity to think about other people’s feelings or opinions. It’s their way or no way. I came to this realisation with my 2nd son, now almost 19. And so what for Luke? I have absolutely no idea how he will turn out. Watch this space. Unless I’m incarcerated for murder; oh wait, I can still write from a cell, can’t I?
Now that Luke is at high school, he has lots of mates that live in our nearest town. That’s where he goes to school so I get that. I mean it’s not his fault that we live in a rural village 5 miles away, is it? However, when your children are in primary school you most definitely have more control over who their friends are and where they can and cannot go. High school is a whole new ball game. Usually we have pre-arranged pick-up times and location but recently there was a time that we hadn’t. And so I texted my 14 year old. Some time went by without a reply. I called. Voicemail. I called again a short while later. Voicemail. I mean, what do you do in this situation? It was a mid-week night during a half-term holiday. At what point do you call the police? I’m sorry officer but I can’t get hold of my son and I don’t know where he is. Panic over. Situation resolved. He simply breezed through the front door, totally oblivious to my worry. “I got a lift. Forgot to tell you. What’s for tea?”
Luke is my youngest and so I must be forgiven for wanting him to stay as innocent and care-free for as long as possible. The reality is, of course, that those days are long gone. He is in the firm grips of puberty; he’s had a massive growth spurt and his voice has well and truly broken. I think his brain has broken too because he seems to have lost the ability to talk properly or sensibly, if at all. His eldest brother likes to gently remind me that, I spoil him and let him get away with murder. Which of course I do not. Unless this includes buying him branded underwear. I conceived Luke following a short but serious illness. Perhaps this is why I am soft on him, according to my husband anyway. I have always treated each of my children fairly and I don’t like to think of any of them as being my favourite. In fact, none of them are my favourite, I dislike them all the same. Some parents run a tight ship. I must be running a fucking pirate ship then because there is much swearing and drinking and a slight touch of mutiny from the tiny raiders that I created.
“You’re starting early!” My husband will rudely imply as I pour myself a large glass of wine. I don’t give a shit that it’s a school night because this wine is my salvation. My friend. It won’t answer me back. Or judge me. In my opinion it’s never too early for wine. In fact, if my husband ever says that to me again, we’re getting divorced and he can have full custody of the boys because I am running for those hills to hide away for the next 4 or 5 years!
Feel free to check up on me from time to time.
Cover image by Allan Foster via Flickr