Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy MMM Christmas

Remember when your teens were as small and cute as this...?

Those were the days...

to all you MAD MANIC MAMAS & PAPAS!!

from Saz, Fhina and MMM team
(whom we would like to thank for all contributions in this new venture, we done good, yeah?!)

Monday, 21 December 2009

A Mother's Teen Tantrum...

penguin Pictures, Images and Photos

Why is it that, on the fourth day before Christmas, when it's minus 4 degrees outside, I find myself having to scream and shout at my Teen Terrorist like a woman possessed, because he fails to understand that if he is going out into town with his Fiends for the Night and he's staying overnight at Barker's (who has five siblings, Goddess help them - How do they do it??!! How is that family still sane?!), that he needs more than a cotton hoody on, even if he is 'Just going around the clubs, you schizophrenic?'

I swear this great, gallumping Man-Child might not make it until his 18th Birthday...

Yes, I know he's out under-age, but there is no way on earth I would be able to stop him. And he's 18 in early February anyhoo, so I've given up THAT fight.

And why is he not wearing the expensive parka hoody (but bought in an Amazon sale - Canny Fhina, non?!) that he insisted he had to have as a Christmas present...?


Saturday, 12 December 2009

Gentle Reminder

There seems to be some confusion in my house about parental responsibilities. I think I might have to stick a gentle reminder on the fridge door that goes something like this, (tinkling piano intro):

Darling teenagers, as your parents, we are responsible for-
- your education
- your health and well-being
- your safety

However, we are NOT responsible for-
- the amount of homework your teachers give you
- the length of school terms
- the starting time of school
- your shoes, jackets, I-pods, phones, school books (look for them)
- the fact that the weekend is only two days long
- the fact that you have a 6 year old brother who follows you around. (Oh wait, we are. Never mind. Be nice to him.)
- things that get left in jeans pockets and go through the wash
- things that don't get washed because they weren't in the laundry basket
- your frostbitten fingers because you thought you didn't need gloves
- ditto ears and hats
- the pencil/book/worksheet that you swear you left on the table last night

Please try to memorize but keep this in your pocket just in case.

Expat Mum

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Who is Christmas for?

Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents, ” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. Louisa May Alcott ('Little Women')

Ignoring (as so many of us do most of the time) the religious aspects of Christmas, the obvious answer to “Who is Christmas for?” is ‘the children’. But at what stage does this end? In relation to her teenagers wanting a single large present, Expat Mum wrote “I'll have to go out and buy them silly little, (inexpensive) things that probably will never see the light of day again. It makes me feel better.”

We have exactly the same problem. Junior wants some clothes but he doesn’t want to get them until the New Year. So an envelope with money in it is the answer. Asked if he wants anything off his Amazon Wishlist his answer is “No – just money.” Well, hard luck, Junior. Christmas has just stopped being for the children and is now about me and I want to have the presents under the tree – not just mine and Jo’s but some for Junior as well. So I’ll be getting him some things off his Amazon wishlist and a couple of cooking items. He may glower on Christmas morning (especially as he’s not a morning person at the best of times and won’t be looking forward to a traditional sit-down-at-the-table Christmas meal) but I’ll explain that Christmas is as much about giving as receiving and I enjoy giving. (Actually I probably won’t say that I’ll lie and say I had an Amazon voucher to use up – I’m a coward like that.).

The presents, of course, will be wrapped and under the tree. Which brings a further question – who is the tree for? Again, no longer is the answer ‘Junior’. It’s for me. It’s a few years now since he and I decorated the tree together and Jo watched and took photos.

Nowadays I do all the decorating and if I’m really lucky he’ll pop into the conservatory and say ‘Yeah, it looks good’ - but only when he’s prompted by Jo saying ‘What do you think of the tree?’

I think that even if I lived on my own I would have to have a tree and decorations. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree...

Then there is the traditional Christmas meal. Firstly, Junior has difficulty dragging himself out of his den (where his ultra large TV is situated) for a meal. He often cooks his own meals now and almost without exception he heads off to his den to eat it. So the first issue will be getting him to sit at the table with us. The second problem will be that he won’t be hungry. He doesn’t normally eat until some time around midnight so the idea of a meal in the middle of the day won’t appeal. Then we’ll go through the ‘I don’t like sprouts or mash or...’ at which stage he begins to sound like a six year old again. No, without doubt, the Christmas meal is for the adults.

Face it folk, once your children reach their teens the whole concept of Christmas becomes something for the adults. The only consolation is that eventually (and it may be a long time off!) your teenagers will become adults and Christmas may once again be for them.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Big Kids, Smaller Presents

I love Christmas shopping for my 6 year old. He hasn't asked for anything in particular; by that I mean he tells me he wants whatever flashes up on the TV screen but forgets about it ten minutes later. So far I've bought him a few boxes of Star Wars figurines and a Transformer. I know I can run out at the last minute and just get him a few more big plastic things.

Unfortunately I'm learning that as they get older it isn't so easy. Not only do my teens not ask for much, but they really mean it because the "surprise gifts" I've given them over the past few years (money box that calculates the money as it goes through the slot, for example) are collecting dust in their rooms.

And of course, the biggest problem is not that they don't give you many gift ideas, but the ONE that they do give you costs an arm and a leg. The Queenager wants an I-Phone, and given that her phone is the next door neighbour's cast off, complete with all her old phone numbers AND no functioning "delete" button, I can't really say I blame her. We've made it clear that this will be her only gift and she's happy with that.

The Man-Child wants a new electric guitar. Again, I can't say I blame him as the one he currently plays was bought from a family at school and is the uncoolest, beginner type model you can own. (Intentionally so, I might add. I wasn't shelling big money until we knew he was serious about it all, which doesn't just mean watching hours and hours of guitar-playing on You Tube, even if it is "That's Entertainment" by the Jam.) And again, he's happy with the warning that he's not getting anything else.

So here's my problem. How mean will it look on Christmas morning when they literally have one present each? Especially when their little brother is whooping and squealing with delight. No - I'll have to go out and buy them silly little, (inexpensive) things that probably will never see the light of day again. It makes me feel better.


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Is it too early to breathe a sigh of relief?!

Puppy Pictures, Images and Photos

I know I've moaned on these pages. I've wept and I've despaired. I have hardly an original blonde hair on my head. I've got more wrinkles than the average Shar Pei.

I've dry, scaly eczema on my legs, making me look more like a down-at-heel Lounge-Lizard than a Yummy Mummy.

I've got all the weight Oprah ever lost, gathered around my midriff like a flabby corset.

I've probably consumed the contents of a New Zealand vinyard of Chenin Blanc white grapes, and climbed a glacier of 'Medicinal Chocolate'.

Amberley Estate (great Chenin Blanc) Pictures, Images and Photos

And now I've taken a pause to reflect.

After a few weeks of nocturnal teeth-grinding (me), and some insomnia (himself), Grizz has received two conditional offers for entry to the University of his choice, as opposed to the University of Life (alias McDo's)...

And I can hardly believe it. I know we're not home yet. I realise that he still needs to achieve those results Northumbria Uni has set his sights on...

I understand that getting him to University is only the start of an uphill struggle. One where I'll be ringing him to ensure he's up in the mornings, and not skipping lectures ad hoc. I'll be meeting him over some long lunchtimes to see that he's eating properly, to hand over food-parcels, and hard folding cash. I'll be holding my breath while he sits exams and travels abroad on expeditions for Geographical and Environmental "research."

But I still wonder, is it too early for me to breathe at least a little sigh of relief??!

Funny Pictures, Images and Photos

Oh, and I'm not bragging - No, really I'm not.

At least not since his 'Personal Statement' (for Uni, that I practically wrote for him, (in his own words, mind)) was returned to his school office 'as it had 'grammatical errors'... Gulp...

And me the English Graduate - D'oh!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Man Child Damage

When you have a large male teen in the house, there’s a lot of collateral damage. Mine grew over 6 inches in as many months this year and still isn’t quite used to his new size, or weight. His centre/center of gravity has shifted so much I’m constantly amazed that he can walk in a straight line. Sometimes it seems to amaze him too.

Our house is proof that he’s still on quite a steep learning curve. For example, we have stairs that curve at the bottom and the top, which tends to make people swing on the banister as they mount them. Tonight he did that and pulled the whole thing out of the wall.

Yesterday he was looking for something in a cupboard underneath the basement stairs. The doors are cut into the wall and you have to stoop to see what’s in there. When the man-child stoops and leans on them, they have a tendency to come off their hinges. Sigh. He also slammed the upright freezer door so hard that it bounced open a little bit – and stayed that way all night. We now have a lot of food to eat before it goes off. Sigh.

He showers every morning, and about twice a week pulls the curtain back so roughly that the whole spring-loaded curtain rod comes down. Fortunately he is now adept at putting it back together as if nothing had ever happened. Except he usually manages to stand on the hem of the plastic curtain, which is now ripped in several places.

I drive a minivan/people carrier with sliding doors on the side. One side is automatic and doesn’t need the human touch to close it. The other side needs a firm hand, but not a full on body launch. Last week, he closed it with such force that it now takes about three attempts to get it to shut properly. Another sigh.

And that’s just a week with him. The saddest thing is that my husband is the world’s worst at repairing things. Sigh!

Expat Mum

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Why don’t the kids do as I ask?

I always thought I was persuasive. After all, I work in Marketing and PR. Yet though I hate to admit it, my persuasive charms are wasted on my children. Are they genetically programmed to ignore everything I say?
Over the years I’ve read all the parenting books. I’ve been to Positive Parenting courses. I’ve even swotted for coffee mornings so that I could appear vaguely knowledgeable amongst the mothers who know. But I didn’t pass.
Good mummies don’t want to share their intellectual property. They don’t want to share the inside knowledge - the gen - on how to kid-wrangle. I lag behind. My ADD addled brain can’t remember from one minute to the next what instructions I’ve given them already.
Was bedtime 9.30 or 10.00? Were they allowed to stay up on a school night to watch something vaguely educational, or not? Is it ok to eat seven Weetabix, because after all they are full of healthy fibre? I can’t recall.
What’s worse is they remember. The kids know everything. They know that if they wait till 7pm when I’ve already downed a nerve-soothing glass or two of vino that I may just say ‘yes’ to all sorts of things. They wait and watch, and then pounce. Dazed and distracted I’m likely to say ‘sure, you can go to that party, and yes you can have the last twenty pounds in my purse to buy junk food at the movies, and of course I’ll pick you up after netball even though you do have legs and last I checked, could still walk!'
Then there is the blatant blanking.
‘Can you please empty the dishwasher?’ (yes the dishes again! A household with five people has a daily Everest of dishes.)
She scoots upstairs and disappears into the bathroom. She has not suddenly discovered that she is covered in slime. There is no urgent need to worship the shower god. I am being blanked because I’m asking her to do something she does not want to do.
She is the queen of the blank. Son’s not much better, and the youngest daughter is learning fast from her older siblings. She used to be so good, so obliging.. Ooh the rot is spreading!
The funny thing is that in a way I’m reassured by their innocent naughtiness. In the dark days, when the ex and I had just parted the kids watched me with twitching eyes. They jumped to attention every single time I asked. They compassionately did their jobs and their homework. No one lifted a penny or five from my change purse. Not one of the three kids misbehaved, or acted out or was horrible, arrogant or lazy. No one ran away from home and joined the circus, no one dated an unusual person with pierced private parts, or failed to do their homework, or got rude notes from school.
They were quiet and polite and caring. They were good kids, and they told me often that I was a good mum.
Strange sad days. I guess they were too nervous to lay any more strife upon my shoulders for fear it may be the last straw.
When My Englishman first met my kids at home in NZ he commented that everyone ran rings around me. Even the dog and cat had me under their control, he said. He was indignant on my behalf and determined to change their ways. He didn’t realise that they’d only just adapted to the marriage breakup and had settled back into their wicked ways.
Tonight, four years later and half a world away, I breezed in from a hectic day racing from the printer to the supermarket, and found the girls watching i-Carly in the dark surrounded by mess. Dark Princess ignored me when I asked her to do the dishes. Son quietly pocked £1 in loose change I’d left on the bench and the youngest one (she who can do no wrong!), nicked off with the last of the digestive biscuits (and right before dinner too!).
As I coated the chicken with five spice and soy sauce, I smiled quietly to myself. Everyone is behaving wickedly. Even the bear regularly raids the bin and scatters chicken bones all over the carpet. They must feel relaxed and at home after 18 months of change. As good as that is, I’d still like some advice from the ‘good mums’ out there.

How do you get your kids to do as you ask?

Vegemitevix xx

Friday, 20 November 2009

In which we inflict our weirdness on an unsuspecting world.

I have some little quirks of personality that make me unique, you undoubtedly do yourself and so have The Beautiful Children. We know and love each other and we're pretty cool with each others weird stuff. When we are at home we do have lots of chat and everyone tries to outfunny each other, we are a big fat bunch of show offs and a whole heap of strange. But you kinda don't notice that in your own house where you exist in a cosy little vacuum.

But we went out today, all together, the family Von auntiegwen went to the dentist.

We arrived and were met by the world's most sullen dental nurse (Olympic standard for sure), we did some form filling in and then entered the waiting room. Cue the Twilight Zone music. There aren't 4 seats together so we find seats where we can. Now regular humans are there, being quiet. This does not perturb The Beautiful Children at all, they continue to hold their conversation across the room, they didn't get the memo that says you have to be quiet in any kind of a place that smells antiseptic and people wear white uniforms.

Eldest Beautiful Daughter starts getting twitchy because on the wall there is a plug socket, a double plug socket and one switch is on and the other is off. They have to be both on or both off, yep, this is the same one who has a phobia of feet. So I can see her looking and I wonder if she'll get up and flick the switch in a nonchalant fashion or if she'll hyperventilate and faint. Oh no, the bold girl herself, marched up and switched them both to off and explained to a rather startled waiting room that uneven switches make her feel sick, then proceeded to tell them how in her sociology class there is a row of 3 double plugs and she has now trained the teacher to sort them before her lesson. She returns to her seat, not a bother on her and I flippantly (I know everythings my fault before you start) say "Good girl yourself, I thought you were going to have to sort the magazines out"

Oh my, back up she gets and starts to tidy the magazines up, she arranges them in size order and straightens out the bent covers and makes them all line up exactly in a row.

Then The Beautiful Son chips in with "You didn't arrange them by genre or date, you're such a fail at OCD, they'll take your badge back off you"

So with every eye in the room on her and the regular humans beginning to wonder if we should be out without a carer back up she gets and starts to re sort the magazines.

We have been waiting around 15 minutes or so when The Beautiful Son gets up and has a wander round the room, reading the notices, still talking loudly in his very exaggerated Scottish accent about when he was a laddie (he pretends to be a very old Scottish man, he sounds like an unsexy Sean Connery) when he stops in front of a picture that has 3 photos of smiling mouths and he exclaims in delight (so much so that he forgot to do the accent) "Look, it's me, remember when Mr Dentist took my photo the last time" and he points to a very obviously female mouth, in his defense it was the nicest one. His sisters hoot with derision and tell him that a- this is a woman's mouth and b- that photo was an x ray. He recovers quickly and back in unsexy Sean Connery voice retorts " Ah dinnae ken why he was xraying ma mooth, it wisnae even a bit broken"

The Beautiful Baby Daughter who is the most functional and sensible of us all looks totally disgusted and disgruntled at her fate of being landed with us, the weird family. She plugs her thumb back in her mouth, puts her ipod in and ignores us, she still manages to look more adult than the other 2 combined. This is actually quite hard to do whilst sucking your thumb.

The waiting room are perplexed at the bizarre theatre of strange before them but are glad when we are called through. We could hear (from the other room) and were hurt by the collective sigh of relief.

We don't have our usual dentist but a new one, a Sith Afrikken one, and now TBS morphs into a bad Nelson Mandela Accent and "yisses and viry nice to meet yi" to the new dentist and we all get a clean bill of health, 3 weans all teens and not a filling between them, ever, in their whole life, surely that's worth a good mummy badge?

As we get ready to leave, I'm sure to the whole building's delight and I have to make the new appointment with the sullen girl, remember her? from the beginning of this long and sorry tale, she asks us who we want the appointment with and The Beautiful Son decides he's going to make her smile, with his bad patter, and starts off with a "I've been wi Mr Dentist since I wis a wee laddie, fur 9 years I've been cummin heer and fur 17 of these 18 times I've had Mr Dentist, he's ma pal and I dinnae want 1 of yer new fancy dentists, I'm loyal to ma ain dentist"

And right on cue behind him comes his own dentist who is more than a little surprised to be so enthusiastically greeted by TBS who grabs and shakes his hand all the while explaining that he didn't choose to be unfaithful to him (still in the bad old man unsexy Sean voice) that it was sullen girls fault for sending him to the other dentist. This was accompanied by pointing and wagging of finger to sullen girl. Who has upgraded to cross and sullen and is now in training to be a Doctors receptionist. Or in therapy.

Like I say, we don't go out much with the regular humans.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Cross-Dressing Teens...

From Dreamy Pictures, Images and Photos

Grizz and I were watching a very challenging TV documentary the other night. It concerned very young children who had elected to start making changes to their pre-pubescent bodies as a result of feeling that they did not belong in the sex they were born to.

I was marvelling at the patience and stoicism shown by most of the parents portrayed. That they could be so honest about the process of letting go of their little boy, for example, to embrace the little girl who came into their lives instead...

The children appeared mainly to be so set on their paths, determined at a very early age to right the wrongs that fate's hand had dealt them, to go through excruciating medical procedures and torment, no matter what their peers might throw at them; This was extraordinarily brave. The parents appeared to be living with the undenable alternative which, to them in every case, was perhaps to lose their child to an early choice of death at their own hand... Which no parent should ever face.

Grizz was tussling with the choices of the children featured. They were brave. They were going through bizarre things. Weren't their parents amazing to go through all those heartaches? Didn't that boy look right as a girl? Wouldn't it be weird to have to make those choices?

Cross Dressing Pictures, Images and Photos

And then, as I followed him up the stairs to bed, I noticed that he was wearing black linen pants. A pair that I'd never seen him wear before... I asked where he had got them from, and he pointed out that they were mine, that he'd plucked from the linen basket earlier that evening, to fetch something from the car... 'I could get very used to these,' he said. 'Aren't they really comfortable, mum? Do you think anyone would notice that I was wearing women's pants?'

He did look really good in them as it turned out. And we laughed out loud, after watching such incredible journeys being made. That this was my son's first foray into anything like cross-dressing!

(I have yet to tell him, of course, of the story that when he was born and we had to spend days in hospital, for he was a little premature and pretty jaundiced. And I asked my hubby to go off and buy a couple of babygrows at Mothercare as we were running out. And he returned with a packet of two, ostensibly white, baby suits but he had failed to notice that one had a faint pink horizontal stripe running through it and the other was adorned with pretty pink daisies... I ensured that the baby Grizzler wore them until he outgrew them, mind you. I've never been one to waste pennies unnecessarily!)

teenagers Pictures, Images and Photos

Monday, 16 November 2009

Does anyone have a Mother-Teenager Dictionary?

Have we talked about this before?

Forgive me if we have... But I was very keen to share this clip with you from the British Comedy duo, Armstrong and Miller.

In their recent sketch show, they often portray war-time 'Johnnies' as you might see them in any black and white film of the period - But these potential heroes speak as only our British teenagers can... 'Yeah, but! No, but!', and so on and on and on.

I, and I'm sure many others, find these clips hilarious, illustrating as they do, the vast gulf, nay chasm, that opens up before us when we are dealing with Teens, Tweens, Text-talk, MSN and just generally chatting...

They even appear to communicate with one another in very different ways to those we used and those we use now...

Dictionary Pictures, Images and Photos

I keep chiding my teenager, Grizz, for how I hear him speak to his girlfriend on the 'phone... It sounds as if he is fighting with her, disrespecting her, putting her down - as I listen with my glass held up against his bedroom wall! The reality is in fact nothing like that, it's just the tone that jars my old-fashioned ears somewhat...

Alexander Armstrong (bizarrely, the son of the lovely learned man who was once my doctor!) was interviewed, in THIS article:

“THAT Vera Lynn, she’s well fit”.

“You like, crashed your plane, isn’t it?”.

“You can’t actually stop me cussing because I’ve got a hyperactivity disorder, I’ve got a note and everything.”

These are just a few lines from one of the best comic creations of recent times – the World War Two pilots from Armstrong & Miller, who talk in teen speak.

The inspiration for them came from a writer who heard two teenagers talking at the back of a bus. What makes it funny is the comparison between 19-year-olds today and teens who were risking their lives in the war.

Alexander Armstrong says: “The pilots highlight how our generation has evolved into this terrible state of self-regarding compensation culture, from the selflessness of the previous generation.

“Our pilots have a whole list of disorders they suffer from, which somehow should excuse them from any responsibility. Notes from their mum, asthma, learning’s a wonderful performance piece but a nightmare to learn.”

It's been a week, in the UK and Europe, where we remember and mourn our dead of so many needless wars... That in the end, we come to rely upon really young people to fight the brave fight, puts all of my own, self-obsessed, whinges into perspective sometimes...

Still, maybe we should start compiling that dictionary now? It took Johnson nearly nine years to complete his, after all!

Poppy Pictures, Images and Photos

Friday, 13 November 2009

Could you P- LEEAZZZE...

See full size image
I remember quite clearly a time when Moannie wrote a list of do's and don'ts for the teens in her family, partly illustrated as is her style. This was a cry for help that l recognised, I had long since left home, married and I was visiting one day when I could tell she was at the end of her tether. I think this was also around the time she, at the end of a meal, in response to a simple question like, would you like some pudding too? that my fathers response was less than polite, probably sarcastic in his snappy Latin inimitable style, and she poured the contents of a can of chantilly cream all over his bald head with it.

We all hesitated with held breath for more than a nano second, realised he wasn't going to implode and instead we all laughed together, including the french student who looked aghast but just a bit impressed at the goings on within his anglo/french host family.

This list of heartache my mother poured out on to a large card, which she put up for all to see (And sign that they read and understood if l recall) in the dining room. This was the result of her lazy teenagers, showing her little respect, albeit unwittingly. And for the lackadaisical demeanour shown by my siblings and my father to her at the time.

I thought this was all fairly amusing and typical of my slightly manic and turbulent and very reactionary family. So no surprises there.

But now, almost 3 decades later, I GET IT MUM!

I wonder if you still have that list from which we could all here draw upon here.

Mine would have such detail and beseechments as;

PLEASE for the sake of your mothers sanity...

  • pick up your clothes of the floor
  • remove all food stuffs, milky mouldy glasses, old foiled wrapped sarnies now blue green and put them in the bin
  • close the inner packaging in the cereal boxes, that's why they go soggy!
  • don't stack the dirty dishes on top of the dishwasher, the machine is good but it cannot, as yet stack itself
  • close the front door when you enter, no l don't mean lock it I mean CLOSE it.
  • lock the doors and close windows when you leave the house unattended,
  • tell someone when you drink the last of the milk/bread/butter and leave none for the morning
  • correction, please do not DRINK the last of the milk, LEAVE some for the morning
  • Don't leave lights, computers, speakers and hair straighteners on, for so many reasons, least of all costs and safety!
  • It would be grand that after 14 years of early mornings and school runs, if I could have a lay in on MY day off, and you get yourselves up, JUST ONCE maybe!
  • Don't bang doors
  • Don't swear under your breath, I take it personally
  • Don't talk to me walking halfway up the stairs I don't have bionic hearing
  • I still give you lunch money, that means food & drink, not Starbucks and not to spend on the bus, its only 1.25 miles to school! If it rains l give you lift! OH Whatever!
  • do say please and thank you to ME! Everyone tells me how Fab you both are, how polite and respectful but WHAT ABOUT ME! Thank me for the lifts here, there and everywhere!
  • Please get up and answer the door to the postman when l'm at work and you're home (in bed asleep) the note he leaves has a time of attempted delivery, so l know what time you were still in bed. AND if l can get out of bed on MY day off and sign for YOUR ebay items, then you can scrub my back also....
Please feel free to add your rants here..............................Phew!
I KNOW there's so much more, but l need to take a break.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Heart in your mouth

So, amidst all the Halloween stuff that is big business here in the States, the Queenager decided to give me even more gray hairs. She drove herself and a friend to another friend's house on Friday night. Eek. First time in the car without a parent.

Such is the carefree nature of youth that she wasn't really bothered about having no idea where she was going. We dont have the fancy navigational stuff in the car, although there is a compass and if you keep going east you hit Lake Michigan, so I suppose you can't really get lost. But she has no sense of direction and didn't know the streets near her friend's house very well. Plus, they're all one way streets, so if you make a wrong turn it's not just a question of going around the block to right youreself. I insisted on printing a map of the immediate vicitinty with big arrows pointing to the road home, much to her chagrin.

Ten minutes before she left with her friend, it started lashing down and of course it was dark. Not great driving conditions, espectially since no one here seems to make any accommodations for inclement weather and other perils of the road. So off they went giggling and laughing about this great adventure, while I stared at the clock in the kitchen and tried not to imagine the police call telling me to meet them at the local emergency room, or Queenager herself tearily explaining that she somehow managed to hit a parked car. I did however, expect her to ring me when she got to her friends - you know, just to calm me down. But no! Having far too good and liberated a time to think about dear old mom. (I did call and she'd made it there in one piece, even managing to park the car in one manoeuvre.)

It's not that I don't trust her or think she's a terrible driver (she's actually quite good), but I remember my first foray on my own after I'd passed my test and it was pretty scary. I realise that parents of driving teens all go through this, but I'm glad the maiden voyage is over - for everyone's peace of mind!

Expat Mum

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Day 7 - A.D.

The drive back from the therapist was an opening.

My son bubbled over with chatter and deep conversation. He was my little boy again.

Then we spent most of the weekend together. Hey, without friends and laptop I am not such bad company for him.

He sat next to me while he completed college applications and drafted an essay.

Yes, he sat next to me.

He is taking all of his many consequences with grace. He has not complained except to say that he wonders when he is going to stop being surprised by consequences. He asked when some of them might be lifted. I told him that I didn't know -- I had never had a kid before who smoked pot -- this is new for me, too.

Hey, today he laughed at one of my jokes.

Hey, today I joked.

One step at a time.

Meanwhile, I am keeping this boy close to my hip.

I've always said that kids (especially boys, at the risk of sounded sexist - but since I have 4 of each, I may have enough experience to make this judgement) are brilliant when they are in the kitchen with their moms. Right and Wrong seems very clear while standing near the homefire.

As kids get further and further from the kitchen, they get dumber. Yes, they do dumber things.

And the more teenage brains are in in one place, the dumber they get. Brain mass actually atrophies.

Yes, I am getting my sense of humor back.

I recognize him more as my son as time goes on. And I recognize myself a bit more, too.

Thanks for listening to me as I go through this little dip in the raising teenagers journey. I am sure that we are not done yet...but I think I will pause from sharing the day-by-day with you.

Now back to our regular parents-of-teenagers-tongue-in-cheek posts. I'm ready for the laughs.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Day 6 A.D.

Finding out for certain that your son has been smoking pot is not unlike having a houseful of kiddos with swine flu: A parent worries and stresses, plans to prevent, and prepares for the worst, then once it happens, the energy shifts. Now it is time to take action and do all the things that need to be done.

Over the last 6 days there has been very little talking. There has been no yelling, no lecturing. There have been no temper tantrums (by parents or son). Everything has been communicated through actions.

My 17 year old has been following me around the house a bit. He just seems to want to be with me.

This evening he started to talk. He said he was feeling anxious and a little stressed. We actually ended up lying on the floor, facing the ceiling and talking.

He is wondering when some of the consequences will be lifted...he is starting to ask questions: What do the clothes I wear have to do with smoking pot? Why can I not see my friends? Why are you meeting me off the bus? Why can't I ride in the car with friends? He says he has stopped smoking pot now and he wants to return to his B.C. (Before Confirmation of drug use) life. Why do I have to see a therapist if I have already stopped smoking?

Ahhhhh, finally, an opportunity for me to teach him. No lecturing, just answering questions.

So, here are some simple short points I wanted to be sure to make:

1) When a boat hits rough waters on the ocean, the sails are pulled in, the cargo is sure to be tied fast. We hold on tighter until the storm is over and the sails can be opened again. We are in rough waters right now, and we are pulling in. Not because we don't think that we will get through the storm, but rather because we know that if we take these steps we will get through to the other side with less damage. Dad and Mom are the captains. We are in charge.

2) Stopping drug use is easy. Living life off drugs is hard. Our job is to help him to live life now. The therapist offers expertise we don't have. We need the resource. We are doing things now to help him live his life without needing to smoke.

3) The consequences are not punitive -- they are constuctive. What do we need to do to help you get through this? We are not out to get you. We are in this together. We are on your side.

He stayed on his back for over an hour. We talked, I listened. He was quiet. Most of the time. I was quieter. I was just there, beside him.

And I decided that I had to be the one to out-wait him. He had to be the one to get up first. I wanted to symbolize that I was not going to leave him. I wanted him to feel that although we have 8 kids, he is special enough for me to give him this gift of time.

Quiet, solid, still. I need to offer him what he needs. He needs to be willing to reach out and take it.

I think he is getting it.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Day 5 - A.D.

The day we take him for an assessment-

He has not fought any of the consequences of his actions yet. He is resigned to the fact that things will change.

Uh, ye-ah, (can you detect the sarcasm in my writing?) that's what happens when your parents find out that you have been smoking pot...and lying...

How many lies? I cannot even begin to try to figure it all out. Lots of puzzles...

I am only looking forward.

So now I am looking at a whole different kind of letting go - one that I had not planned to experience.

Did you know that when you take a child to a therapist confidentiality sticks and the therapist doesn't have to tell you what your child reveals in therapy? I knew this. My husband is a therapist, and I knew this. Intellectually.

But to have to sit with a therapist, husband, and child in a room and leave the therapist with the son and know that I may not know the outcome of the discussion...

...I just have to trust that this professional will do what is best for my son.

Yup, a whole new kind of letting go.

How come letting go -- this thing that we are supposed to do as good parents -- is so painful?

I know, I know, the joy will come when they truly fly successfully on their own. For the moments they are aloft there will be joy. There is joy. I have seen it.

Thank goodness this is my fourth teenager and I know that the peacefulness will come.

And this is my fourth teenager -- I know that I am not done being a parent yet.

I may never be finished, right, Moannie?

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Day 4 - A.D.

A.D. - After Drug use confirmed at our house.

H1N1 is full blown at our house. And this may just be a good thing...

The school superintendent has closed school for 3 days and we are all home together.


This is just what we need on days 4-7 A.D. -- After drug use confirmed by our 17 year old son.

Did I tell you that this particular child of our 8 has been the easiest? Truly?

His grades started to slip last Spring and we were worried. We started asking lots of questions, but he always had a good answer...and, here's our mistake: we believed him.

He picked his grades up, but still things didn't seem right. The last couple of weeks he wanted to sleep at a friend's house once each weekend. I smelled him when he came home, but never noticed anything. Nuts. I should have tested him right away.

I could torment myself by thinking about all that I could have done differently, all the lies he must have told me, but I have decided that I am not going to do that.

Instead, I am focused on each next right step -- an action plan.

I've shared some of that with you in previous posts. My husband keeps asking me how I'm feeling (remember, we all have H1N1?). When I tell him still sick, I know that is not what he is asking. He wants me to share my feelings...and I tell him "I'm not going there..."

So, for today, it is the next right step.

Today my son is making his room spotless...spotless so that I can look in any drawer, in any corner, and know that he is not hiding anything. We are going back to square one.

Someday I'm going to laugh about this...but for today, it is just the next right step.

Day 5 - Appointment with Alcohol and Drug Counselor for an assessment.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Day 3 - A.D.

As the day starts, I still haven't cried yet. I am focused on the steps I need to take.

Have I mentioned that my husband is an alcohol and drug counselor. Yup. And he didn't think the test would be positive. It was me...the mom...who knew. How did I know?

I just knew.

So on Day 3 I met him off the school bus, and took him to get his hair cut. Short.

When he got in the car he was quiet. We haven't yelled, we haven't argued. He has gone along with everything that I have told him to do.

"You could have told me, Mom. You could have told me that I was going to have a hair cut."

"Hummm, I suppose I could have. I'll tell you this much: things are going to be different. For instance, I am not going to pay for college for a kid who is smoking pot."

C has thick, curly, beautiful hair, that I have always cut myself. He hasn't had it short since he was a truly little boy. Now he is only a little boy in my heart, a 17-year old, 6 foot tall man-child to my eyes.

When he sat in the chair and the hair dresser asked, "how short", I didn't give him a chance to answer.


"Really? His hair is so beautiful. Are you sure?"

Her own hair was half blond and half pink. She was only a year or two older than my son. Wait -- is she flirting with my handsome son? I want to tell her to get her hands out of his curls. But I don't.

"Yes. I'm sure."

He looks at me and knows I mean business.

When she was almost done, she asks me what I think. "I think you need to use the clippers. The bangs are too long. It needs to be very clean cut -- I want him to look like ... like...someone that you would not go out with."

I'm flashing back as I hear the clippers turn on. My son was born with a thick head of hair. It looked straight at first until we washed his head while still in the hospital. I ran the fine toothed baby comb through his hair and it curled right up. He has hair like mine. The first sign that he was truly my son.

I remember his first hair cut. I have the lock of hair in his baby book. It was a quick trim, ceremonial almost.

This is the longest hair cut of my life. I send a text to a dear friend while I am waiting --

"My first tears are falling as I watch his curls hit the floor."

Monday, 2 November 2009

Day 2 - A.D.

A.D. - After Drugs confirmed

No bike ride yesterday. Instead we took a walk to make a game plan. He confessed before he peed. My husband was wrong, unfortunately. My husband, the alcohol and drug counselor was wrong. I, the mom, who only had a gut feeling to go on...was unfortunately right.

I'm in shock...but will do the next right thing.

Here is our plan, so far:

1. Son will wear new pants to school - not baggy. I took him shopping yesterday for a very quiet shopping trip -- I chose all of his clothes. He tried them on and had no complaints.
2. Son will wear new shirt - not a band T-shirt to school, and no more black sweatshirts.
3. Talked to guidance counselors at his school. Set up for meeting on Wednesday.
4. Son went on his own to talk to his guidance counselor as well.
5. Husband scheduled drug assessment with an alcohol and drug counselor.
6. I left school early to meet C off his bus. (no more rides home with friends)
7. Son is riding with me to take other 3 kids to a doctor's appointment. I am not letting him out of my sight until we get an assessment of how complicated this issue is for him.
8. Oh, and I took his prize possession -- his laptop. No more isolating by watching movies in his room. The big idea of this game plan is to bring him back into the fold -- to improve attachment - remind him about what is important.

Life was so much easier B.C. (Before C screwed up.)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Sunday Morning Activity at Our House

1. Husband and I take a walk and go out for a quiet cup of coffee.
2. Pick up Marijuana drug test kit at the pharmacy.
3. Pick up 17-year old son at his friends house.
4. Have son pee in a cup.
5. Husband and I take a long bike ride. (Could be really long depending upon the results of the test.)

Remember when they just used to pee into a diaper?

Friday, 30 October 2009


first published at FFF's 15/10/09

I have just arrived home from work and whilst waiting for the kettle to boil I log on to blogger....I check my blog, then check out our Mad Manic Mama's blog and read Expat's Mum's post and then my mind starts a commentary and I have to type it out or lose please go read her post first then you'll get the gist of mine....
Ahhh, secretly l think they are still ours... that is my big girl and my tall boy. My man child, was (is still) sitting in my brand new (mine) armchair with his feet up on the brand new (mine) pooffe, sorry not very pc, my new er foot chair....and he's not budging....he smiled though, as I walked in the house, and that smile is so wide, so light up the room bright and just pure gold. I get the kettle on and walk over to him, 'Hello, how was your day?' I ask, he grunts... and l lean over him... I do not detect any deep sighing or tutting, I guess he is breathing gently in resignation. He is mine, on my chair, my captive... I lean in. I Breathe so deeply and smell him. Drink him in, my baby boy, l could weep. The essence of the baby l carried, is still there, I shoved a big fat red lipsticked smackarooo on the back of his neck and rubbed the lippy right off... that smell,that touch can sustain me for a week... though I admit not much more, but by then l can sneak another or a hug. And Boy can he hug.
Upstairs, my big girl,18 at Christmas, is lying in bed, feeling sooo tired and a bit head cold-y. And perhaps just a tad sad I reckon, as she failed her test two days ago. I leaned in, I don't care If I catch anything. l'm sure the bloody swine is still alive and well, in this boot fair of a room, a floor full of worn clothing, dirty crockery, unfinished coursework and odd shoes... I ignore the overwhelming urge to moan, fret and complain about it AGAIN. Instead I take advantage of her prostrate state and again I Breathe deeply and my mood and mindset is totally erased... It's no matter we've hardly passed two civil words to each other in a baby girl is feeling unwell...and I love her. She can cuddle for England, swear for France and a few days ago when I told her I loved her and she responded in kind, I was surprised and said, 'Yeah but REALLY? Do you? I would never guess.' she laughed out loud and said 'Of course' It's mandatory I HAVE to, it's my job!' How the tables turn, I said it when she was six and right back at me!
Such are the innate feelings of love between mother and her child! Life without it once you've experienced it. I couldn't imagine otherwise. How do some women, men cope without them in their lives. I know we moan about our teens, hence the MMM blog. But. When we say we would walk through fire for them, it isn't a throw away remark. I wonder how old they'll be before they realise it...

Thursday, 29 October 2009

In which I am a bad mother...

I have spent roughly two hours cleaning Tall Girls stinky pre-teen (thirteen next week!) bedroom this morning, I have cleaned, dusted, tidied, organised and hoovered. It looks and smells much sweeter now.

I cajoled her into the shower sometime later, and feeling that my work was done, came downstairs for a welcome cup of tea. Oh the joy of having a messy teenager!

After pottering around downstairs for a while I decided to go and have another look at my mornings work, sometimes it is satisfying to survey the scene. However there were already clothes on the floor together with her towel and PJ's. Should I get her back upstairs to put it all away? I didn't have the strength.

As I picked up her towel I noticed her mobile phone was underneath. I looked at it a moment. Just one little look?

Now I have to explain, and think I may have done before, that when I was about her age I kept a diary, a very personal one, full of teen angst and boyfriends, until my step father took it and read it. It led to endless arguments and accusations, everything was held against me. I never kept a diary again, until now. So, knowing how it feels to be violated like that, I have always vowed never to do such a thing. But as I saw her phone I hesitated. Just one little look?

Sometimes I leave my phone lying around, though mostly it is close by. I rarely delete texts, unless my phone is full. Most of them are from the same sender, my other life. Some of them say...

Just one little look? I couldn't help myself. I picked up her phone, selected messages, then 'In box' and scrolled down. Jack. Jack. Jack.... All from the same sender. I select one to read.
"Be on line in 10. Ly" I caught my breath, smiled and put down her phone. It felt so familiar. It is so strange. She is a dark horse. I am still smiling inside.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Que sera sera...

Bubbles Pictures, Images and Photos

Well, there was lovely Auntie Gwennie waxing lyrical just the other day about her daughter's Uni plans and the dreaded Pan's Labyrinth that is the UCAS form...

And her thoughts and feelings echoed wholeheartedly with mine. Because, you see, in spite of the myriad of hassles and grizzlings doled out by Himself lately, deadlines iz deadlines, and we have to jump through the same hoops as all the other Teen Terrorists at this time of year if we want to secure a place; Gap Year or no Gap Year... And no, there won't be a Gap Year, for we fear he just won't ever return to the Ivory Towers, and there are very few jobs available for school-leavers in this current climate.

So, I've drafted his Personal Statement while he was passing his Driving Licence (Third Time Lucky! That's another story for another day). I considered his best qualities and I tried to set them out in a way that would enchant the University of His Choice. You know, the one his girlfriend is already at?!

And we've recently sat down together and explored the written words, and I've asked him to consider his own voice, and what it is he wants to get over about his desire to be a Geographer. A Geographer and Environmentalist...

And somewhere, lost in the distant mists of time, when I once hugged the warm trunks of trees to me, feeling their energies and their great age and wisdom, a vibing energy flows back to me and I hum, 'Que sera sera, Whatever will be will be, The future's not ours to see, Que sera sera...'

And the seasons of our lives flow on... and our little acorns continue to grow and amaze us.

trees Pictures, Images and Photos

Thursday, 22 October 2009

University Challenge

Life has been a teeny tiny bit tense chez auntiegwen recently. This has been entirely down to the phenomenon that is Ucas or Feckin Ucas as it's known in our house.

If this is a complete unknown, you can either read on through your fingers having a glimpse of what's yet to come, being brave or you can escape with a mere click of a button and continue to live in mummy denial land with your hands over your ears singing la la la, sure who could blame you? I love it in mummy denial land.

My eldest beautiful daughter is in her last year at school, no, I have no idea of how that could have happened either, one minute she was toddling around and now she is being expected to chose what to do and where to do it. That child can't even choose soup.

The dreaded Ucas form is essentially a common application form in which you pays your money and takes your choice. You choose 1 degree and 5 places in which to do it, write a personal statement explaining why you are the very person they have been waiting for all these years to come along and storm academia.

If your child knows what they want to do and where to do it, it's a breeze, fill it in, write the personal statement that shows they have some notion of what the degree is and how they would be not too bad at it, pay your £19, job done.

It wasn't like that for us. We had tears, cross shouty voices and anxious fingers pressing wrong buttons necessitating soothing voices, much love and cups of tea.

My daughter doesn't really want to to to uni, she doesn't want to get a job, she wants to go back to primary school and strangely that's not an option. She doesn't want to leave home, she wants to live with us and stay at school. She doesn't want to grow up. I know I have allowed her to remain as functional as a 4 year old, mea culpa. I know I like my children being babies, my name is auntiegwen and I am an over controlling mummy.

I know my daughter and I know she's not ready for real life yet but I also truly know that if stays with me for another 1, 2 or even 3 years, she'll still not be ready because she will not learn to be independent until she leaves me. I love the fact that she loves us and she feels so incredibly happy as I couldn't wait to leave home at 18 and my arse was just a blur as it went through my parents front door.

She tentatively suggested a gap year and when I'd stopped laughing I asked "from what?" if anyone gets a year out it's me, I've got something to have a gap from, I've been working for decades. She did also suggest that we went with her both on the gap year and to uni but that's just being silly.

If I don't shove this chick out the nest, she'll never go to uni, she'll get a job and she'll live with me forever and much as I love her, she needs to go and grow up a bit (okay, a lot) The thought of not seeing her and kissing her and laughing with her on a daily basis makes me ache but I know she has to go.

So after much deliberation, tears, tantrums and soul searching she has applied to university and she is leaving home. Her choice of degree, drum roll please...

Primary Education (QTS) BA (Hons)

So back to the place she was so happy in and she will be truly amazing, and I am so proud of her.

And I will miss her in a way I can't describe as she is (as all my children are) my heart, mo chridhe.

Monday, 19 October 2009


You could take them away on holiday or take them to an adventure playground or a museum or a gallery or any of the usual things that parents should do with children whilst on half term holiday.

I, on the other hand am not going to be doing any of the above for a number of different reasons. Firstly, I'm quite sure there has been some mistake - they have only just gone back to school after an interminably long summer holiday. Secondly, for about the 85th half term in a row I don't have all three of my children on holiday at the same time. I have three weeks of them off at different times and by the time they go back it will be nearly time for one of them to start their Christmas holiday and thirdly, I am still going to be working.

The two children who are now on holiday will stay in bed until midday. Then they will mooch about in their pyjamas watching "Neighbours" and playing Fifa '10 until three, then they'll get dressed and be really indignant that I've asked them to do something and say they haven't got time they simply have to go out and then go out. My third will be at school. When the older two see him all they will say for the entire week is "have you got school tomorrow? Oh. What a shame. We haven't" and "what are you doing tomorrow? Oh, sorry I forgot. You've got school" and so on.

Can't wait.

So. Here is my list of things to do with my children this half-term:-

Make them tidy up their rooms.
Sort all clothes
Take unwanted clothes to charity shop
Do food shopping
Do washing
Clean car.
Sort garden
Clean house
Organise the last 10 years of photographs
Cook evening meal

The list is endless - and shall no doubt remain so.

I suppose I'd better try and think of something fun to do with them. Do you think if I suggest we do all of the above to music they might consider it to be fun?

No. I didn't think so.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

They May Be Big but They Still Need You

So my man-child hit 14 on Monday. It's great that he's now 14 as it's a little bit less embarrassing than having to tell people he's 13 when he's almost 6'2" and visibly a big kid.
I took him for his annual doc check up. (You have to do that here as they need the medical records on file at school.) He was a bit nervous about stepping on the scale, even though he's been working out quite a lot and is visibly trimmer than he was 6 months ago. It didn't help that the nurse laughingly (although gently) confirmed with me that he was here for his 14th year check up. Her son, she told us, is 14 next month and doesn't even come up to his shoulder. My man-child laughed the shrugging, semi-mature laugh he does when people tell him that sort of stuff, but I always wonder how he feels about it all.
Anyway, he got on the scales, and let's just say he was over a stone (14 pounds +) heavier than he/we thought he was. "Mom" he shrieked. What on earth did he think I could have done in that moment? Hell, if I could do anything about weight I'd be working on myself wouldn't I? But no, it was "Mom". (Reminding me that he is but 14 and not the 18 that he looks). I probably didn't help by looking at the number and saying "Bloody hell", but we had discussed the fact that muscle weighs more than fat beforehand, and he is looking very trim these days.
Our pediatrician (who has a teenage son) was fabulous; showed him the growth chart, showing that his height and weight were in perfect alignment (off the charts). She made him feel even better by showing him that he's probably going to be 6'5" and will more than likely gain a bit more weight.
But he's still my baby boy. (Well, not the youngest baby boy but one of them anyway!).

Expat Mum

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

How 2 B a betta parent

Hop on over to PowderRoomGrafitti for hilarious tips on parenting teens.

Expat Mum

Monday, 5 October 2009

What next?

baby Pictures, Images and Photos

Love is such a light and femur thing... We hold it to our bosom, kissing its forehead, smelling its perfume, and finally at the end of the evening, we tuck it into the cot there, wrapping the warm woollen blankie around its soft form, whispering hope into its gentle, slumbering breaths...

We whisper to our love sweet nothings, we covet love's beauty and its light and warmth... We scent its milk-scented swathes, as it encircles us securely in love and light and longing.

And in the Teenage Years, we find that love can shatter, not unlike a slender teardrop of glass - Fragile, beautiful and short-lived...

And so we tiptoe around love's crib, careful not to tread on the razor-sharp glass slivers of pain and torment that hurt and wound our paper-thin, parent-skin.

Yours in love and sadness,

Fhina-Fee x

rosemary's baby (1968) - roman polanski; steve frankfurt poster art Pictures, Images and Photos

Friday, 2 October 2009

Deja Vu all Over Again

The Queenager is in her Junior year at High School. That's equivalent to Lower 6th in England. Typically, this is the hardest year as not only are all their grades through high school important for college admissions, they usually start taking their national exams (ACT ot SAT) at some time during this year. (The great thing about American high school is that by the time they leave, they actually have their academic results AND know where they are going to college. Talk about peace of mind.)

Queenie has determined that this WILL be the toughest year, not only of her life to date, but ever. In the history of academia. Despite my undergrad and Masters degrees, and the fact that as an accountant, her dad has to take exams and courses just to keep up his credentials, no one else has ever had it this tough.

Every day after school she comes in sighing loudly, asks where I am and sets about harranguing me. I have to listen for five minutes as she tells me, in stupifying detail, every homework assignment for that night. Then, as the evening wears on, she makes periodic appearances to update me on what she still has to do.

I know I'm supposed to be a supportive parent, and I wouldn't want to go back to that kind of academic pressure for anything, but PUH-LEEZE. I've been there, done that, got the sodding certificates.

And the worst thing is, she's the first of three! There's probably a lot more where this came from.


Expat Mum

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Has Miss Piggy left the bulding?

My daughter is over the swine flu, well actually the flu is gone, but we've been left with the 'swine' part. The poorly girl, who was malleable and sweet, wanted hugs and watched her childhood Disney movies a week ago, that girl has left the building.

I have to remind myself that the flu, separate to the man flu version we all know so well, which is a period of high drama which involves a man, tiredness and the sorry for myself syndrome or at worst a bad head cold, BUT the real deal is really debilitating. I had it only once two years ago and it came on suddenly one afternoon, whilst at the metro centre, and I took to my bed after the teeth chattering journey home, from cold not fear of Larry's driving. Once you have suffered the flu, you never again think a three day head cold is flu. Two days later, Larry insisted that he take me to the Q-doc place for a consultation- and Larry doesn't do insisting nor do doctors, so I was sure I looked worse than I felt. Good old fashioned Influenza the doctor said, fluids and bed rest for a week.

What I need to recall is the period after the symptoms left, when I was bone tired and irritable for weeks afterwards. It takes a lot out of you. With our daughter, she has taken her many free study periods in the mornings this week, and translated them into mean that sleeping in until noon, is the order of the week. And me, her mother turned green and burst forth with,

'Don't you think that study periods may be better used, by getting up and doing some er studying? or some coursework? tidying this den of iniquity? I can't see the floor and you have 9 yes nine I counted them - half full glasses and cups that the dishwasher has been looking for!'

Any sense of humour has disappeared out the door with the flu and I, having worked really hard this week on an exhibition changeover at work, doing manual work dismantling walls and painting 12 foot high walls, just have not the patience to pussy foot around. I cannot get the house and me in a better place IF the vampire is sleeping all day, worse getting under my feet.

Today she and Larry were up at the crack of dawn to visit Edinburgh University for its Open Day. I feel like crap that I haven't gone too, but thinking it through and only getting the day off at the last moment when they had planned to go alone, I decided to leave them to it would be the best.

My daughter confides in me when it matters most, in that she needs my help or advice. I think that it is important to try and keep the communication lines open. It is necessary to remember that they DO NOT know it all, even if they think they do. Knowing that she will shout for my help, not Larry's in certain situations. Is a good thing. I need to remain approachable and not piss her off entirely. She however needs to remember to fill the dishwasher and keep her room tidy. A fair exchange you would think!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Of course it's my fault

So my gigantic almost 14 year old son has been trying to slim down a bit recently. He has finally realized that yes, you can in fact overfeed an adolescent male body. I have to admire his restraint of late, and without over-emphasizing things, he knows that I am proud of him.

At dinner the other night I commented that I could tell he was getting skinny by his wrists. Everyone thought that was hilarious, but you know what I mean? He now has much more pronounced wrist bones.

"Yes but I still need to get rid of my moobs (man-boobs)", he lamented. And then followed up with the inevitable, "Which incidentally, are all your fault".

Try as I did, I simply couldn't make the leap between his moobs and my inadequacies as a mother, unless of course it's simply because I have boobs. Obviusly I was thinking hard enough.

Apparently if I'd mentioned that the little foil-wrapped chocolates in the pantry were women's calcium supplements, he wouldn't have stolen so many a few years ago and wouldn't have moobs now!

Expat Mum

Friday, 25 September 2009

I'm in love with her boyfriend...

No, I don't mean in a Jeremy Kyle, Oprah Winfrey kind of way. Made you look though didn't it?! In fact he is really, I am told, just a friend.

My eldest daughter is nearly sweet sixteen. She's always liked boys, ever since she was a toddler. She just 'gets' them, probably more than she 'gets' girls at times.
As she's matured of course I've encouraged her to try and stay focused on 'other things' (i.e. schoolwork) and since, for various reasons, she moved to an all-girl school last year, it's been fairly quiet on the boy front.

Until a few weeks ago...

...enter Harry.

Harry is 18. He is off to university soon to study English and Politics. He's also learning Arabic, he wants to save the world. Harry works all the hours God sends to save up for uni. and my teen meets him during his lunch break from time to time. On the last occasion we both happened to be in town she brought him over to meet me. Afterwards she told me that he is just a 'friend'. Hmmmm OK then..I'll believe it if she does.

Last night Harry came for dinner. He brought a box of Crispy Cream do-nuts to share after the meal. Harry made eye contact. Harry asked if he could do anything to help. Harry chatted with all of us...he's intelligent...he's done work experience in Westminster...not too gushy...self assured but not in a cocky way. He's handsome and he has a twinkle in his eye for my daughter. Who is just his friend. They sat on the sofa and were comfortable with each other, it was plain for all to see. And he won us all over; even my 10 year old son went out an got him a good luck card before he goes to uni on Tues., having met him only once. I don't even get cards from my 10 year old son unless his arm is forced behind his back by two older sisters.

And I'm thinking...I'd love her to choose a lad like this at some point in her life, to welcome into our family. Then I think "WHAT!!!?"

Excuse me, but when did this happen? When did I turn from a rational, efficient, slightly anxious mother into a dopey eyed, wishful thinking idiot? Is this what teenagers do to us? Of course Harry will go to university, meet lots of girls his age and break my heart. Sorry, I mean my daughter's heart don't I?

Get a grip woman. Show some decorum here. A little sense and perspective please.

Yet could it be true that manners really do maketh man?

You'd all like him, I know you would.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Comfort Food...

tunnocks teacake Pictures, Images and Photos

Tunnock's Tea-cakes...

Wine Gums...

Stodgy Puddings...


Sausages and Mash...

Hearty Soup...

Wine Gums Pictures, Images and Photos

I wonder whether I am to blame for my son's Comfort Food fixation... For whatever addictions he might develop in life? Are they in the genes?

I over-eat. I know I do. And I associate comfort eating with... Well, comfort.

Being in my peejays surreptitiously breaking off squares of chocolate is one of life's random pleasures, is it not?

Chocolate Pictures, Images and Photos

And I tried to bring Grizz up with a healthier attitude to food, I did... That he turned out to be no faddy eater was a real result for me... While one of my nephews wanted "Hard toast, please", and the other whined, "Soft toast, please"; The latter was the same child who ate nothing but sausages for several years... I had no such problems with Grizz.

He would eat whatever he was given and he played outdoors rigorously, ran hard, ensuring he was never really overweight... So we indulged ourselves occasionally - A biscuit here, some sweeties there... Avoiding the things with additives and E numbers and no caffeine or Cola, to keep him happy and healthy and hale and hearty...

And now he's practically an adult, with his mother's sweet tooth unfortunately. And I try to keep him healthy still, even while he's making his own choices in life... He indulges in occasional, but never excessive, alcohol... Two bowls of cereal a day... Cheese Sandwiches... Tunnock's Tea-Cakes... Wine Gums...

ice cream Pictures, Images and Photos

And I still watch his teeth, and his waist-line, and how he fits in his clothes. And I know it's his body. And he's entitled to make his own choices... But smoking? That's MY bete noir... I really hate what smoking does to people. And I don't know now where I am going with this post, but I just wanted to rant.

Sorry. Rant over. For now!

Ice Cream Love Pictures, Images and Photos

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Home Comforts...

food Pictures, Images and Photos

Our darling Saz was writing the other day, as only Saz can do - Making us laugh with tales of her young 'uns scuttling in and out of the kitchen, casting aspersions on their parents' passions, and ram-raiding the fridge and food cupboards...

And I think Beautiful Auntie Gwennie had much the same to say recently, about not being able to keep her lovely, growing son fed... Eating her out of house and home, I should imagine... And then our beloved Scriptor Senex spoke about Junior's magic abilities to make huge hunks of cheese just disappear.

Therefore, I am given to understand that Fhina's not alone in this... In my mind's eye I see the Sainsbury family sitting in their cosy snug each Friday in life, to raise a glass of their own twinkling Prosecco in honour of the profits they have made purely from Fhina's purse and the man-made mountains of food-shopping she has to cart out of their supermarket and into her home!

All of which, I kid you not, makes its way down the beak and gullet of our starveling Baby Bird...

posted Pictures, Images and Photos


And then there are the 'phone calls - I swear he has a timer fitted in his tum! We might be stuck in traffic on the way home from work, and the mobile 'phone will trill into life, and we can recite the conversation verbatim.

"Where are you?

When will you be home?

...There's absolutely nothing to eat in this bloody house and I want you to bring some shopping in...

Oh, and remember ice-cream!"

And then we have to start all over again... And Mr Sainsbury's eyes roll back in unadulterated pleasure as his tills go "Kerching!"

Friday, 18 September 2009

On a more serious note....

I enjoy writing fun posts for this blog but in reality it is frequently anything but fun being the parent of a teenager. Equally, and perhaps more importantly, it is often no fun at all being a teenager.

I get frustrated by the state in which Junior leaves the bathroom when he is preparing to go out. The bowl’s dirty, the bath towels are on the floor, the tops are off half as dozen different lotions and smellies. And lecturing him about cleaning up after himself has no effect. But occasionally I put myself in his position and think which would I rather be. The guy who cleans the bathroom or the one who has to spend hours grooming himself and worrying about every hair that might be out of place, every potential spot or blemish and all the other things that a young man going out for the evening has to consider.

I am fortunate in that my life experiences have given me the confidence to deal with things without worrying about what people think of me. I can happily display on my blog the words of Dr Seuss -
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

But what was is it like at nineteen? Very different!

I recall one girlfriend I went out with who was a rugby fan. I brushed up on my rugby knowledge. Magnified the three awful games of rugby I’d played into a season of above average performance. She was tall. In high heels she was taller than me. I wore smart black leather boots for most of that year. ‘By coincidence’ they happened to have higher heels than ordinary shoes. She liked me to be clean-shaven and my beard has always been quick growing so after a day at work I was a bit stubbly. I went through agonies finding various ways of shaving between work and going out. It would seem a simple enough task but this was in the days before electric shavers were common and there would have been nowhere private in work to plug one in. So I had to endure the risk of someone coming in the Gents and finding me shaving. There would have been ribald comments to endure. How mortifying.

Of course, not every evening was spent going out with one’s girlfriend. There were trips to the match and on to the pub with the lads. It didn’t matter what the weather was like or if one had a headache one stood (in those days) at the Anfield Road end of Liverpool’s ground and sang rude songs at the referee. And, most important of all, one had to look like one was enjoying it, even when Liverpool were three nil down and the hail was bouncing off your bare aching head. (What, wear a cap – how wimpish would that have been!) Then , in the pub, how many unwanted glasses of beer were downed and cigarettes smoked simply to keep pace with one’s friends. The pressure to conform outweighed all else.

So I try to look at Junior and remember some of these things. And I’ll pick up the towels from the floor and be thankful. After all, it may not seem like it but he’s got a lot more to worry about than I have.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

The disappearing act

Some magicians spend years perfecting their art. The better ones may eventually make money by going on stage and waving their hands in the air to produce bunches of flowers or somehow place a pretty girl in a cabinet and get her to disappear. (What a waste, I always thought!) One thing I have never understood is why people are so impressed. Surely anyone who has had a teenager knows they can make anything disappear.

Let’s examine this week as an example of Junior’s skill in this regard.

It is so obvious to any teen parent that food disappears from the fridge. What is less obvious sometimes is how it is done. You look in the fridge and there is a very large chunk of cheddar cheese. Without leaving the kitchen you plan how you are going to cook that cheese and you get the utensils and other ingredients out for a Welsh Rarebit. You open the fridge door again and the cheese has gone. Does the fridge have a hidden back door that leads directly into his den, I wonder?

In the kitchen we have a pair of orange handled scissors. They are excellent scissors. Junior had been in the kitchen creating one of his excellent Chinese stir fries. When he had finished I washed the dishes for him. (How do you use every dish and utensil in the house to create one stir fry?) The scissors were not among the items I washed. Nor were they in the drawer when I went to use them later that day. They disappeared for a week only to turn up in the fridge in his den. Magic!

I reckon that around the house there are scattered about seven CD players of various sorts. Actually, that seems now to be only six. Oh, the one in the bedroom has gone as well, make that five. I could have sworn there was one in the corner of the lounge. Oh well, at least there’s one in the conservatory. Yes, OK, you can borrow it to listen to the match on the radio if you’re sure your radio isn’t working but you must return it.... Damn. Not a CD player anywhere. What’s he doing, Running a market stall of electrical goods?

But the ultimate disappearing act involves Junior himself.

Me - “Can I just have a word with you for a moment?
Junior - “Sure, can I just set my Sky to record and I’ll be back in a moment.
Disappears and doesn’t reappear for at least two days...

Me - “Can I just show you a job I’d like doing in the garden?
Junior - “Sure, can I just put some shoes on.”
Disappears for at least three days....

What he doesn’t know is I’m working up to finding just the right phrase to make him disappear for a month or two.... Ah, bliss.