Thursday, 30 July 2009
We're headed to England soon and I was just thinking that it's a year since my sibs have seen my kids. The 6 year old obviously looks different every time we go, but the 13 year old man-child? Last summer, at 12, he was 5'8" which was big for his age. This summer? 6'2" and a size 14 shoe!! I don't think anyone really believes me but they'll be in no doubt in the very near future.
Think about it. He has grown six inches in a year. I don't know how he manages to move around with such a dramatic shift in his centre/center of gravity. I have a hard enough time myself and I stopped growing decades ago. I'm not even sure he'll fit into my mother's loft bedroom any more. Maybe we can pitch a tent and leave him out in the back garden?
And of course, with the smaller fridge, it'll be trips down to Tesco every day to keep him stocked in fertilizer! His dad is 6'4" so I shouldn't be surprised, but I didn't expect it this early!
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
She's beautiful (even while continuing to drink copious amounts of alcohol and smoke sneaky cigs, as evinced by this early photo!), very brave, eternally sassy, always rip-roaringly funny and is a pure joy to have on board with this blog on Parenting Teens...
Auntie Gwen strikes that balance between being an adored and loving mum, and trying to develop her own life, and who knows, perhaps even find love, outside the home...
And there's often Cocktail drinking involved, and that's never a bad thing where Fhina and Saz are concerned...!
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
My man-child, Grizz, makes me a cup of Redbush Tea when I get home, bone-weary from the day's work, earning him pennies for X-Boxes, Etnies DC Shoes, Fox Hoodies, Lynx Deodorant and Morrison's Hoi Sin Sauce Duck Sandwiches...
He rubs my tired tootsies, saying, "Mum, you really need to take more care of yourself... I can really feel those tension knots in your plates of meat... (feet!)!"
He washes up this morning's breakfast dishes (his), and goes off to empty the washing-machine of his clothes for school this week - Placing the black, grey and white T-Shirts on the airer, and putting his black jeans in the tumble air-dryer...
He folds his jumper noir up, fresh-scented and warm from the dryer and carries it upstairs to place it on a padded hanger in his neatly-arranged wardrobe.
He folds back his eiderdown for that night's sleep... An early night for him!
And he starts to run a bath for his smelly ol' mum, pouring in the delicious Raspberry Sorbet Philosophy Shower Gel he bought her for Christmas - Out of his own money, mind! He's generous my boy...
He lifts a warmed fluffy cream towel from the airing cupboard, and leaves it gently on the side of the bath...
"Night mum!" he calls, "Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite! Mind you don't let the bath over-run..."
*@#>?*... T'yeah, that'd be right!
Sunday, 26 July 2009
Well he's 17, and she's now 18... But I was reminded of that song, 'Only 16, only 16...' Do you remember it?
...Any advice yet on how to handle Teenage Loves and Conquests...?
So strong, it seems as if nothing in the world will push you off course...
So sure, no-one can tell you anything; Least of all your parents!
So intense, you never imagine anyone will mean as much to you in your life again...
So young, and 'There's plenty more fish in the sea...' 'So many girls, so little time', you almost want to say to them, but you know that this first love will stay with them the rest of their lives, and often will influence the next steps they take in relationships...
So all-enveloping... And nothing else matters: Not the future, not exams, not success - whatever that means - not your family, nor your friends...
Any advice for a Fretting Mad Manic Mama, mes bloggy loves??!
...Well, at least one of the pros at the moment is that he tidies the house up before The Woodland Faerie comes to visit!
Can I live with that?
Saturday, 25 July 2009
Friday, 24 July 2009
After a few fraught days of dizzy dialogue with my Twisting Teen, I took time out to seek out some words of advice from my dear friend Wise Wikipedia, who usually hides out with me over at my Day Job Blog, A Woman Of No Importance...
When I picked that name for my blog, I was tootling about at home, building up to, and then trying to get over, a back operation...
I was feeling despondent about myself, my own place in the world, and to be honest, I am still struggling to cope with raising a gorgeous, but challenging Teen Terrorist, who blows hot and cold with his affections, especially for me...
And I found this...and I've added my own reflections to this, I hope you might find something to identify with here:
A Twelve Step Programme, if you like... Morsels of advice for Addled Parents of Teens...
Back off. If your teenager is irate, any attempts to restrict or discipline them will only be counterproductive. Give him or her some time to cool off. If the situation calls for punishment, it can be dealt later, but too often parents make threats that are too harsh in the heat of the moment.
...So, threatening out loud to have him adopted at 15 was just not the right step, nor was it realistic? He would have been able to have seen through it?
Remember that your kid really does love you. S/he argues when s/he is angry and makes statements s/he doesn't mean because s/he is just learning to express him/herself and doesn't see many other ways, especially if s/he feels s/he is not being effective talking civilly.
...That's hard to remember when he's driving me demented with tormenting me #101... He knows my every button to press, how to really get my goat up, (and I didn't even know I had a goat!); to make me go from A - Z in terms of rage in a nanosecond...
Realize that he is going through a difficult time. Teens have many stresses. Your kid is maturing into an adult and is dealing with pressures from school, homework, friends, popularity, dating, after-school activities, individuality, hormones, etc. It's a heavy load for him to carry.
...So that's why I've got the bad back then, because he's carrying all those burdens... Ummmm...
Calmly approach him and continue the discussion after a while, later in the day, after both of you have had time to calm down.
Do you mean when the window repair man has taken away all the broken glass, and put in a new window-pane for me... And I'm standing there, sobbing, weeping at the sight. ...Right?!
Watch your own tongue. If you have a tendency to get angry easily, he will naturally become defensive and may snap again.
Could you not have told me this when he was 13? Before I'd set a pattern of Child/Child behaviours between us, that are now so difficult to reverse? I'm an only child, he's an only child - neither of us have any siblings... Go figure!
Beware small things that may start long arguments. A little disagreement over whether or not you were fair in grounding him two weeks ago may spiral into a fight over how fair you are regularly.
Okay... Do you have CCTV trained on my home - Or one of those Nanny Teddy TV camera doobreys?
Stop the conversation if things seem to be escalating. Suggest that you find something else to do, and promise to resume the topic later. Make good on that promise; teens hate being cut off.
Easy for you to say, when he's chasing me around the house, trying to get the last word in... It's enough to drive a girl to drink! I don't half fancy some Champers... I wonder what triggered that?!
Thursday, 23 July 2009
Gulpity gulpity gulp. (If this was my own blog, you'd get feckity, feckity feck but I'm trying to ease you in gently to life ala auntiegwen)
The Beautiful Son in a casual enquiring sort of fashion asked "When Lara goes to uni, will she have a carer?"
auntiegwen in a puzzled and bemused tone replied "A carer?"
The Beautiful Son continues "Yeah, like to do all the stuff you do for her"
That means everything except dressing her and wiping her backside. She can do that all by her own self now, I'm very proud.
auntiegwen throws her head back and laughs like a musketeer informs
"No, when you leave home and go to uni, you have to do all that stuff for yourself"
The Beautiful Son decidedly states "Well, I'm not going then"
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Well, despite years of trying, I have failed to reach the dizzy heights of an Alpha Mum and still languish well down the list. Somewhere around Omega.
Saturday was the start of 'High Security Music Camp' where I pay the children's music school huge sums of Euros to give me a week of peace and quiet and a much needed break from their squabbling over the computer. In return, I dutifully attend the free show at the end of the week where I clap and cheer my offspring with manic enthusiasm and a secret hope of winning the Euromillions so I can pack them off for another week. Seems like a good deal to me.
Two weeks beforehand, an e-mailed list of 'What to Bring' lands in my Inbox. It's not a long list and something that any Alpha Mum could sort out in a day. But not so for us Omega Mums.
The day of departure arrives and Darling Son has one pair of underpants to last him 6 days. Now despite him being 13, that unwashed teenage gene seems to have passed him by and he's almost OCD in his need for a daily shower and clean underwear. I find a few more pairs lurking under the bed/behind the laundry basket (never in it!) and a quick rinse cycle later they are in the tumble dryer. Only an Omega Mum is using the tumble dryer when the outside temperature is in the 30s.
Beloved husband is despatched to the market to buy Darling Daughter a hat which is needed for the show. We saw them there last week but in true OM style I said we'd wait until the following week to buy it. BH returns empty handed. The stall wasn't there. This is clearly the one week out of 52 that the stallholder is otherwise engaged elsewhere.
Eventually, after rooting down the back of the sofas, under the beds and in the back of cupboards a motley selection vaguely resembling the 'What to bring' list is put together, suitcases are found and, only half an hour late, we're in the car heading for High Security Music camp for them and a week of bliss for me.
I return home after dropping them off, still trying to summon a tear or at least a slight feeling of loss, make myself a restorative cup of tea and my phone bleeps. It is a message from DD.
Hi Mum, having a lovely time, met a really nice girl. You FORGOT TO GIVE US ANY MONEY
Quick phonecall to another parent who assures me that her girls will stand DS and DD a few euros if they need it then a quick text to DD.
Will be there tomorrow with money
Could you also bring my blouse for the show, my book and my mobile phone charger. YOU FORGOT THEM ALL. And DS says to tell you you didn't pack his sunglasses and he needs a waistcoat by Thursday
For heavens sake, it's as if they haven't even gone away.
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Are you sitting comfortably, Teen Terrorist...?
Okay, here we go again! These are the little tips I want to offer you in life, like a little olive branch - Shoots of hope, blossoms of grace, nuggets of wisdom...
Be kind to women. By now, I and your gay godfather, my Best Male Friend, The Donald, known to all and sundry as Donty, have decided that you are not gay...
So you are to respect women... but don't be a doormat, right - A pushover - for there are some women who take advantage of men they perceive to be 'a soft touch'...
Your mum recently met a woman, (she's your hairdresser, so you know her too - in fact you think she's 'Hawt!'), whose Best Male Friend had been done over by his Fancy-Piece...
She'd sworn to marry him on a golden isle - They had the invitations, the outfits, the rings, the hotel, ice-sculptures, scuba-diving and flights booked...
And she jilted this King Among Men, (apparently he was tres adorable... A bouncer, often the softest sorts...).
She took the dress, packed it and the rings into a case, and cleaned out most of his bank accounts, and she'd gone off on their honeymoon with another man... She married him there in Hono-Honey-Moo-Moo... and he's even wearing the Bouncer's wedding ring...
Well, would you?!
Not all women can be trusted...
But you should always respect your mother, and keep her in the manner to which she could become accustomed... Apparently...
Chi-chi Handbags, Jimmy Choos, Cristal Champers, that kind of thing...
Are you taking notes?! No!
'Cause I'm talking 'Sandra Bullock', as usual...?
Young man, I don't know what you mean!!! And mind that language!
We've got guests after all!
Monday, 20 July 2009
Sunday, 19 July 2009
Saturday, 18 July 2009
Little does he know that next time I catch his Facebook page open, or look over his shoulder when he’s online, I will actually be able to decode his prose. And of course, I’m spreading the joy with this little texting lesson, courtesy of our new shower curtain.
So we all know that :-) is a smile, and ; -) is a wink, but did you know that *< :-) means “Let’s party?”
And there’s more:
(((H))) is “hugs”
I-O is “yawn”
@-) is “hypnotized (tho’ why they would need that one I don’t know)
%-( is “confused (probably should be adopted as an avatar for most of them)
=P~ is “drool, although it’s more trouble than it’s worth since you have to insert a symbol
:-@ is “scream”
8-o is “surprised”
:-P is “oops”
:-* is “kiss” and :*) is “tipsy”.
You’re very welcome!
Friday, 17 July 2009
It was a choice we made as we knew that we would maintain an element of control over our kids activities. Because of our location, 15 miles from town, 3 miles form nearest pint of milk and newspaper. Okay most weekdays I drove the 26 miles round trip to town and back home at least twice sometimes 3 or 4 times. You can do the math! A lot of miles. A taxi would have been less hassle and cost us less. There's a thought. I'm qualified. Anyhow on many levels all practical and to do with teens, we took the decision to move to town. Again on a practical level it is much easier. On the purse, car tyres and my own stress levels. But you can be sure that something will take it's place.
Thursday, 16 July 2009
My perspective on language -- Parents of Teens, you know what I mean by language --has changed completely in the last couple of years.
My older kids NEVER (read actually as 'never in my ear shot') used inappropriate language. (Well, at least after the Slightly More Mature One cut his finger on a kid's braces while washing the mouth out with soap, but that's another story.)
Our younger 4 are learning English, good and bad English words, during their teenage years and yes, they have used those words within my ear shot.
Most recently, although not specifically four-letter, TT said to me as she was walking away in a little hormonal huff, "You have ISSUES."
Yes, I responded by counting to 10...very slowly.
When my kids use language that is a stretch for them - idiomatic expressions, college prep testing words - husband and I call it a 25 cent word and give them a quarter. We want them to push themselves.
What do I do when they stretch a little too much?
Well, to begin with we focus on intent. We try to teach them to speak and act respectfully. What do you mean by what you are saying? Are you trying to hurt someone? Consider the repercussions.
Up until recently there were particular words that were off limits.
You know the words...
The same words that are part of the music they listen to, that are in the movies they watch, that they hear of the school bus.
Sigh. It was seeming like an uphill battle: Don't say this, Don't say that. And they didn't always understand why.
Then my dear friend Lucy came to visit. Lucy is a good Irish girl - with a mouth like she was raised in a pub.
A dear sweet, loving mother and wife, who thinks nothing of saying things exactly as she sees it. And I have never cringed at her language in front of her kids, or mine. It's just part of the Lucyness.
Our new focus on language is on when to say what words and how they are said. Truly, this is what we want kids to learn.
I want the kids to learn that some language, just like dress, is more appropriate in one place, situation, audience than another.
So, when I hear CC, 13, say d**n after he drops a glass in the kitchen when he is alone, I no longer run around the corner to let him know I heard. That is an appropriate use of the word. I might remind him not to say it at grandma's house -- because that is what he needs to learn: Self control and appropriateness. I need to have them learn how to handle their language independently. After all it's clear to us that high school hallway talk is different from high school class talk is different from at the bus stop talk is different from dinner with Nana talk. And they need to complete the discernment on their own 'cuz we won't always be there.
It's just more teaching and letting go, isn't it?
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
So how come he leaves behind a bombsite? His room looks and smells like, like, like.... no, I'm lost for words. And this is one aspect of his youth that cannot be compared to my own. When I was young not only was my room expected to be kept tidy but my bed had to be made as soon as I got up. A military inspection could have been made without me suffering too many ill consequences.
So what does one do about a room that makes the council's landfill site look like a Harrod's window dresser has been at it. Partner-who-loves-tea and I have different views on the matter. She wants to insist it is kept neat and tidy. My view it is his space and only if it affects us does it matter. Once a week when he is out she rushes in there and extracts everything that doesn't belong. Then she gets out the vacuum, air freshener and other cleaning aids and spends a couple of hours tidying up after him. If, by any chance, he needs some clothes in a hurry she will wash them for him.
My approach is rather different. I simply nag him until he brings out any dead food, dying socks and clothes that are capable of standing upright of their own accord. If he fails to do this the consequences are simple. I go in there and bring out the dirty dishes and leave the rest to fester. Then when he comes to need a particular item of clothing and it isn't clean he has to do without it. It has missed the wash until I next feel like doing one.
Which approach works best? I know you are dying to know the secret of how to manage this unruly youth. The answer is simple - neither approach works. The first one simply encourages him to rely on his Mum more and more. The second creates bad temper on both his and my part. He gets upset because he cannot have his favourite T-shirt to go out in and I get upset because the scissors have disappeared from the kitchen and it would take an hour to find them. I wouldn't mind what state he kept his room in if it didn't impact upon me but disappearing cutlery, plates and the like do affect me.
The only consolation in all this is that we don't seem to be alone in suffering this problem. Many, indeed most, parents I know seem to utter the same tale of woe. So what is the point of all this waffle - the simple message "YOU ARE NOT ALONE". (And if anyone does know the answer - Why haven't you shared it with the world????)
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Son, I'd like you to listen carefully to some of the things I've eventually learned in my own life, that I know may just help you as you are on the threshold of yours, my dahlink...
Now pay attention, that's right... Take the headphones off, there's a good boy. Switch your MSN profile to 'sleep mode' and could you just stop eating that egg sandwich so noisily, I can't hear myself think...
And get back in this room, you... I don't like always talking to your back!
I have got something to tell you -- It's really important... No, you can't have a fiver for listening...
*Ahem* (Clears throat).
I've learned that life is not a meritocracy.
~ But you must pull yourself up by your bootstraps and look out for yourself...
That doesn't mean that you should be selfish.
You need to look out for and care for others who may not be able to care for themselves...
i.e. your mother when she bursts her next disc, and has to resort to a Stannah Stairlift to get upstairs...
What do you mean, "No way, José?!"
...That you do need to stick in at school, and work hard...
No more being the Class Clown...
Yes, I know your mother possesses a BA (Hons.) degree from one of the better English universities...
...And it has never appeared to have got her any farther in life, so what do I know...?
I don't need you to tell me that!
I always believed that money doesn't buy happiness...
But, as the saintly Johnny Depp said recently -
"Money doesn’t buy you happiness; But it buys you a big enough yacht to sail right up to it."
Your smelly ol' mum eschewed money; She didn't marry the Jewish Doctor's Son, The Gloucestershire Potholer, or the Frenchman that looked like Eric Cantona, and she finally found true love - But the first stole from her, and the second, (your smelly ol' dad... Remember the one you call 'Porker'... Well, he took my life's savings (£300) to write off his student debt, and we've been counting the pennies left on life's windowsills ever since...)
Still we're happy!