Monday, 31 August 2009

When is a Teenager a Responsible Adult??!

EMO Pictures, Images and Photos

On our return from holidays last week, leaving the Ferry Terminal in Ijmuiden, Amsterdam, ready to embark upon the Ferry, Grizz was stopped by Customs Officers...

He was pulling behind him our biggest case and a full backpack, and I was hanging on for grim life to our passports and boarding passes and my handbag/purse, like the Organised Mom that I am!

He was bringing up the rear, and my Husband (towing our second case and his backpack) and I were through the doors, practically climbing the gangplank, when Grizz was hauled up and summonsed to open the big case...

I retreated back through the doors, papers in hand, to wait the outcome... GJ was with me.

'Oh, no!' cried the Customs Men - 'On you go!', and they waived us forwards as if we did not matter...

We followed their orders and moved onwards, up the gangplank, prepared to wait patiently for Grizz on board...

He joined us, eventually - His long, lanky frame hoving into view; His face looking flushed and his expression a little terrifed... His wide eyes were seeking out for us, scared, defiant...

We got the whole story once we had arrived at our cabin.

"They opened the case. I said I didn't envy them trying to close it again! (He had seen GJ and I practically sitting on the case to close it in our hotel room in Hoofddorp!)

They said, frighteningly, "Oh no! You will be the one who has to close it! Have you any weapons, any guns, any drugs, any alcohol?"

emo Pictures, Images and Photos

"No." said Grizz, totally honestly...

"Where is your passport, your papers?!"

"My parents have them."

"Why do your parents have them? These are your personal documents! Your responsibility!"

"Well, my mum has them all with her in her bag, and you waved them onto the ship!"

"Do you have any drugs, alcohol, guns?"

"No - You can see that. Well, that's my mum's bottle of wine that she couldn't open in the hotel because she didn't have a corkscrew, that's it".

"How old are you, 18?"

"No, I'm 17..."

"Allright, okay then. You can go. Go join your parents..."

A swift turnaround, a volte-face, when they realised that our Grizz - Almost six feet and a half of him - Easily passing for 19 or 20, is only 17. Not 18, not 21 - He was travelling with his parents, and his parents were taking care of all the documentation for him, as they've done all of his life.

Isn't that what families do, mes bloggy loves?!

Look out for one another, carry the load, take the papers, answer the questions...

We chose to find the humour in this situation... They'd chosen to open the suitcase I had actually filled with the smelliest socks and underpants - Laundry awaiting sanitization and likely disposal - They had looked pretty shocked by it, admittedly!

But when does a Teenager, a young man, become a reasonable target for gun-toting Customs Officials?

...Why is it always assumed that 'they're all up to no good?' That they're carrying drugs, or even weapons?

That's just not true, is it? And it isn't even fair...

As I see it, this media demonization of Teens has to STOP!

emo Pictures, Images and Photos

Friday, 28 August 2009

A post-holiday reflection...

mother and child Pictures, Images and Photos

I noted that I garnered quite a few comments following my post on the Co-Ed Sleepover recently... Thank you, my darlings, for your honest and open remarks, contributions, and even the kind support that was forthcoming...

I know that, like Saz, we are mums who are very much working on the premise of trying to show respect to our Teens, even if they sometimes forget how to return that honour to us...

We are attempting to treat them as the young adults that they are... We recognise, I think, that if we pretend that our, (and by this I do not refer to 'all'), Teens won't be sexually active once it is appropriately legal to do so, that they will be 'out of sight, out of mind', but it might not mean that they are not somewhere else, doing 'It,' and running very similar, if not worse, risks...

'In vino veritas'*** on holiday in the Netherlands in the last fortnight, Grizz let slip that he'd had a friend pierce his ear-lobe for him while they were on that school art trip to Amsterdam in February... At the time, we hadn't been pleased that, without telling us, he'd gone into some (possibly) greasy Tattoo and Piercing Parlour in Amsterdam to have 'The Deed' done. However, learning that he had put himself in the less sanitary conditions of a hotel bedroom, crowded with Teens, having an ear-ring heated by a lighter forced through his lobe, sent a small shiver through my cronky bones...

I found some words I wrote earlier on my Blogspace, and I thought they fit well here...

" I want to say something deep and meaningful about having children, and knowing that they are only on loan to us, their parents, for a short time - and, that, like a peaceful dove, they will spread their wings and fly in an altogether different direction to that which we might ever have dreamed up for them in life, while we are distracted and looking away someplace else... In fact, just like when they were tiny, and we were so exhausted from the day's schedule of activities, and were thankfully tucking them in for the night, together with lop-eared teddies and favoured, scented blankies...

I know that their random acts of boldness, burgeoning maturity, and sometimes even licentiousness, should only serve to remind us that we do not own our children, nor their bodies - That they are theirs to do with as they wish, in actuality..." And there is very little we can do about that, except hope to the Higher Powers that we've raised them right, and that they'll turn each corner, meet each obstacle in life, and make the right decisions...

I haven't got all the answers, I'm still finding my way in Parenting Teens, as so many of us are... And Saz and I, well, we're trying to do our best... And back then I wrote, "And then I go and wibble on about tattoos and piercings, changing the subject until I am able to cope with the temporal nature of love, life and art again..."

motherhood Pictures, Images and Photos

*** Legal Drinking Age in the Netherlands is 16, so at 17, he was permitted to have the very odd beer with us, seated in the hotel lobby over our evening meal a la Francais...

I know that won't be everyone's 'cup of tea', but we have never condoned under-age drinking with him, but now he is almost 18, we try to encourage responsibility, and (so far - Touch Wood!) he has not let us down...

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

David and the Venus de Milo...

wacky David Cerny statue of St Wenceslas riding an upside down horse in Lucerna Pasaz, Prague - we totally stumbled upon this sculpture looking for a Jazz Bar one night :) Pictures, Images and Photos

Teen Terrorists turn your life upside down... They do!

One morning you are pressing out Playdough shapes with a cookie cutter, and pretending to have a tea-party with a woodland full of stuffed bears and rabbits....

...You are wondering when the next episode of Postman Pat is on TV, or Thomas the Tank Engine with Ringo narrating - Because it is the 'be all and end all' of their wonderful, energetic, fabulously adorable little lives...

The next moment, you are SCREAMING LIKE A BANSHEE out the back door after them, as they run for the school bus, late as usual...

You're reminding them, albeit FAR FROM GENTLY, that they ABSOLUTELY MUST go to the Sixth Form Study Centre TODAY to register for UCAS, or else they WON'T HAVE A CAT IN HELL'S CHANCE of ever getting a place at University next autumn; Even if THEIR will IS strong enough to win against the establishment through SHEER STUBBORNNESS...AND they don't even CARE that you got a LETTER home from the Head Teacher saying that this was IMPERATIVE, and that YOURS was THE ONLY CHILD IN SCHOOL STILL TO REGISTER!

...And just the other morning, when you were putting in your new daily contact lenses at the kitchen bench, because it offers the best light in the house, and you blinked the liquid away, and you focused on the middle distance, and suddenly you realised that he was standing right next to you, silently, in all his naked glory, waggling an ear-bud in his ear, dampened and glistening from the shower...

Quickly, you check that the New Mum Milk Lady isn't outside on your doorstep, copping an eyeful of his man-like, David, beauty, while waiting for her payment for the week, juggling the bairn with the semi-skimmed milk! ...And you thank the angels that the neighbours aren't gawping at the soap-drama unfolding before them through your (unusually for you, Fhina!) fantastically clean windows...

And you comfort yourself that no stray country birdwatchers ('Twitchers') have their high-powered lenses trained on your kitchen window...

Statue of David Pictures, Images and Photos

Because there he is, in all his glory... Naked as the day he was born...

And what goes through your mind is whether you could still pin a nappy (diaper /napkin for our Over the Pond listeners!) on his ass - The great 6' 4" galoot that he is!

Oh, life was far simpler then... Wasn't it? When you could exert a little more control over their lives... And they weren't continually 'upping the ante'...

And you looked more like this... 'Armless...

Venus Pictures, Images and Photos

...and far less like this veritable banshee...

banshee Pictures, Images and Photos

Friday, 21 August 2009

...Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart!

TEENAGERS. Pictures, Images and Photos

Of late, and hereabouts especially in this place, (and others), I have been indulging in a Queen-Size Bout of Moaning About My Son... He's called Grizz, or Grizzles, do you recall? G for short.

And G has tried my patience. He would try the patience of a saint, he would!

And recently, I have had occasion to spend some Quality Mum Time with Grizz... (I call him by his Proper Name when we are in company, I must admit...) We're both on our hollingberries now, you see.

And spending time with G has been a pure and unadulterated pleasure... For the most part... I shall avow. (There have been flashes of the old Grizzmanship, still -- Well, he doesn't want to let the Teen Tribe down, does he??!).

teens Pictures, Images and Photos

...He hasn't become all biddable, by the way. I can't rely upon him to pick up the myriad of dishes, cups and cutlery that lie, (like the landmines that killed my husband's grandfather at the close of the Second World War), precariously about my carpets - All at kickable, breakable, shriekable height.

He hasn't suddenly gone all soft and daft and started doing his own laundry, picking up around the house after himself, helpfully helping me to pack for our holiday or taking out the garbage...

No. But he has been pleasant. He has made me laugh. He has given me his arm in the street when my step faltered... (No, I hadn't been drinking then, Sazzie!) ...He even went shopping with me - for his clothes for our hols, I might add - I'd never take him shopping for me, for my clothes... No! Even when he was a baby, I didn't drag him screaming around shops as I've noted many parents do... (I just didn't go shopping for ages, unless it was for the week's groceries, more or less. Friends could never rely upon me for details of where the nicest shops were in the city, as they had all closed and moved on in the years since the last time I had entered their shopaholic heavenly portals...)

So what has changed? Perhaps G's just growing more mature? Perhaps it's the influence of The Woodland Faerie, (who's 18, so probably that counts as 30 in Grizz-Years?)...

Perhaps he's more relaxed since school broke up, with our holidays winking at us from over the hill?

Perhaps this was the lovely child I once knew and practically worshipped, who was actually hiding inside this growling, argumentative gargoyle for a number of Teen-years?

Whatever it is, I'm not questioning or quibbling! I'm languishing in the moment. I'm taking and giving those bear-hugs - They feel good. Great, in fact... He told me he loved me the other day... Twice... And without being coached!

I love him. I always did... (Until the next time! I'm not 'counting Fhina's chickies before they're hatched', mind!)

'Touch wood!'

the teenagers Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


All over England tomorrow year 12 and 13 students will make their way to school to collect their AS and A2 level results. The walk there will be anxious and stressed. The walk home will either be triumphant or despondent.

When your child is little you think they are a genius and as they go through the school system their teachers may agree with you. Primary school teachers are generally quite positive and always focus on your child's good points. High school teachers have to try and give a more realistic view of what your child is capable of. This can come as a shock to you, as besottedly, you always thought your child was very bright, walking at 1, toilet trained at 2, alphabet recitation and counting tricks at 3, but these are not an indicator of A level success. I have taught a lot of teenagers, even the most stupid of them could walk, talk and go to the toilet by themselves.

You may like myself, have a child who has no real clue of what she wants to do. We expect these kids to choose a future career when mine struggles to choose soup. Hormones are raging, boyfriends can be a delight or despair sometimes in the same day. The pressure by peers and the media to be thin, to be beautiful, to have the latest gadgets, to be clever. The toxicity that can sometimes pervade the social networking sites.

And at this time we expect them to know what their strengths and talents are ? To identify a job role they feel suited to and aim towards it ? when the only jobs they have ever seen in any depth are teachers ? In the place they can feel incarcerated in ? Come on.

The media is full of stories this time of year of children, nice smiley happy ones clutching certificates proudly telling the world they have 4 straight A's. It is also full of stories saying how much easier exams are getting and how monkeys could pass GSCE's today.

Imagine the pressure that puts on a child? Lots of kids think university is semi compulsory, and the media is showing them the 4 straight A kids, all blond and shiny, fully Jack Wills upped and telling them exams are so easy, how does that make a child feel when they have achieved 4 straight E's?

I got my Higher results in the post, to my home, with the privacy and space to deal with them. Then I returned to school at the start of term having had a few weeks breathing space to really think through my options. My child will have to go to school along with all of year 12 and 13 and collect hers, she will then have to sign up for year 13 if she gets the grades to return, all of this is done immediately with little chance to reflect.

All the students will be asking what you got, it's the only thing they say that day. If you haven't done as well as hoped, it's a very public failure, family, friends, school, and now add in facebook and myspace.

For some kids this is the day that will either give them the ticket and boarding card to their destination and for others it means planning a very different route, that may be longer and less direct or in a completely different direction.

I have told my beloved child that I love her and I am proud of her. She has worked hard and her results will not change how I feel about her. She is kind and funny, patient and resourceful and a fantastic girl who deserves a great big happy shiny future. She may get the ticket and boarding card or we may have to re route the journey or go next year instead.

But she will be always be loved and I will always be proud of her, because I refuse to define her or anyone else's child by their AS/A2 results.


Monday, 17 August 2009

The Co-Ed(?) Sleepover...

Cat Pictures, Images and Photos

Do click on the photos so you can see all of them, if Blogger chops one of these off in its prime.

...I know just how that feels!

Grizz was rampaging about the house all last weekend. Like the proverbial Bull in a China Shop, he was!

Our modest workmen's cottage could not contain his bulk, nor his angst...

You see, he wanted his girlfriend to be able to stay over at the weekend... To sleep-over... in his room, and not on the sofa...

And this time he wasn't asking if it was all right for his friend Max to sleep-over...

Grizz is 17. The 'Woodland Faerie' is 18, and in the year above Grizz at school... They've known one another for 4 years. They were best friends...

He had a girlfriend for just under one year. They broke up at Christmas...

Faerie had a long-term boyfriend... I'm not sure that they've even broken up...I believe that they have, and Grizz has 'moved in' to the space vacated by him...

Now the pair of them are something else altogether...

And I want to ask all those mad, manic, mama questions that I do so well...

But we got the message, like a little dove wrapped in an iron fist, took our coats and went out, leaving them alone...

Home Alone...

My parents would never have condoned that in my case... But I'm not my parents...

And I still don't know whether what we did was right or wrong...

What does it say in the Handling Teen Terrorists' Manual for Mad, Manic, Mamas again?!

Unsafe Sax Pictures, Images and Photos

Friday, 14 August 2009

The positive side

OK, so we might moan about having teenagers and their tantrums, hormones, secrecy, door slamming, etc, etc. etc. but it is important we remind ourselves some times about the positives.

Firstly, there is... ermm... and then there’s errr... Well, that was a short article...

No seriously, we may need to nag them about picking up a really heavy pair of socks from the floor but where would I be without the muscles that Junior displays when I ask him to lift a treadmill or a television set and transfer it from one room to another. Then there are his long arms when something has fallen down the back of a cupboard or needs cutting back at the top of the hedge. His strong hands can grip a jam jar top and twist it off with ease while those childproof (i.e. elderly person proof) medicine bottles are a doddle to him.

It is easy to bring to mind the things that the average teen finds impossible – like closing doors (or at least closing them quietly); leaving a note when they’ve eaten the last of something from the fridge, etc. etc. etc. but how many of us rely on our children for assistance with computer tasks. (In my case Junior has no interest in computers but my daughters’ partners both assist me no end and would undoubtedly have done so when they were teenagers had they been around then.) Teenagers enjoy showing off their skills and provided we can take a bit of the ‘Duh, how daft can you oldies be’ attitude that goes with their teaching we can learn a lot from them about areas of expertise that were not around in my youth.

Most of our white hairs are due to having had teenagers but at the same time it is only fair to remind ourselves that they help to keep us young. (Running around after Junior certainly keeps Partner-who-loves-tea fit!) Their attitude is that of a young person and the hope, political naivety and refreshing views on the environment and some of the basics in life are a great reminder of how the world has progressed. Throwing away rubbish, wasting water, and lots of other things which my generation did not think twice about have been replaced in the teenage psyche by an automatic tendency to think of recycling and avoiding the waste of the earth’s precious resources. Things which many of my generation regard purely as ‘political correctness’ are an integral part of the thinking of many of our teenagers. I love the strong left-wing views that Junior displays and whilst many of my views have been rounded by experience and battered by cynicism I recognize all too readily the same forceful and earnest enthusiasm for good and truth and political honesty which I displayed at his age.

On a more practical level there are the skills that teenagers develop because they have found (hopefully) something that interests them. In Junior’s case he has always been interested in cooking but in recent times he has reached a level where his enjoyment at doing it and his skill with ingredients mean he can serve up a better Chinese stir-fry than me. It isn’t just about sitting back and being glad someone else is doing the cooking for once (that is compensated for by the mess the kitchen is left in!) but it’s about the thrill of appreciating that the next generation is going to be better than this one at something. One’s skills have not only been passed on they have been developed and enhanced. That’s what the future of the world depends on and our teenagers will be the ones who contribute to that.

And then, on those rare occasions when they care to share it, there are those heart-winning smiles that make one appreciate one has the best children in the world.

So, until the teenager branches out and spreads their wings by leaving home let us occasionally remind ourselves of the good things they bring to the household. (Then we won’t feel quite so guilty when we get back to normal and complain about them tomorrow!)

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Top Man

color splash Pictures, Images and Photos

Grizz was on his way into the shower this morning - It always takes him an age to shower - Lawd knows what the Child does in that shower, but cleaning it certainly doesn't appear to be on the menu...

And, after our recent successful shopping trip (Meaning: I hadn't actually strangled him...), he just thought he'd try this one out for size...

"Mum, could I have a Louis Vuitton belt for Christmas?"

"Grizz, they cost a fortune - What would you want with a bloody £400 Louis Vuitton belt, that'd cost more than your entire outfit put together?!"

"Oh, no, they're like only £230..."

color splash Pictures, Images and Photos

"Only £230!" I shrieked, like the Helpful Harpy I'm growing up to be"

"Just for Christmas; A present..., " he tried...

"Just for Christmas...," bleated my Other Half... "A Louis Vuitton belt is not just for Christmas!", he opined in a serious tone, in the manner of those important Public Service Announcements that offer,

"A dog is for life, not for Christmas..."

I really don't know where the child gets his cheek from, I don't...?

Where does his love of designer gear come into play? - Who did he get that from? - What influence? - His new GF, The Woodland Faerie?! -- I ponder on, shaking my head in disbelief.

And then I falter... And I recall, in a misty fashion... Our summer holiday trips in the past - in his formative years - to Paris, Deauville and Edinburgh, where I licked the windows of the sainted LV salons... but I've never bought anything, I promise... Yet...

Incidentally, I first fell in love with LV during my summer spent in Normandy as an au pair to an ancient and pleasant aristocratic Parisian family... All the sisters of the brood toted beautiful, capacious brown bags - Stylish classics, I thought; Never having heard of the name, and this being years before Sticktoria Beckham bought the brand (and many others...) in such bulk, (and with so little taste... *Ahem* - How many Hermes bags do you need?), bringing it so into the public domain...

There is no hope for me now, is there? The die is cast!

The Grizz-Apple doesn't fall far from the tree... Gulp!

color splash Pictures, Images and Photos

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Driving Test...

Driving Test Pictures, Images and Photos

Oh, well...

I was steeling myself for my son's victory the other day... He was super-confident of passing his driving test first time... And was grizzling to be added to MY car's insurance on the day after passing... This was going to cost me dear - As much as I am expecting our summer holiday in the Netherlands to cost, in fact - IN TOTAL!

I knew then that my summer would pass in a blur of forking out even more spondoolicks, this time for petrol for him, while he sped up and back hill and vale visiting The Woodland Faerie and his ne'er -do-well mates, and I only ever saw the back of my car with him careening off into the hazy distance.

He narrowly failed, as it turned out. Four minors, but as two were the same minor, (BRAKING SHARPLY AND NOT CHECKING THE REAR VIEW MIRROR BEFORE THE MANOEUVRE), he received one major, therefore failing.

Now I have some breathing (even hyper-ventilating - Does anyone have a brown paper bag spare?!) space. We have our summer holiday in just over a week's time, then he re-takes his test on the 28 August at 1400...

Alnwick Castle Pictures, Images and Photos

I should caution you to avoid the roads around Harry Potter, (and the famous Harry Hotspur Percy's), Town of Alnwick at that time and date... ( Above, in snow... It doesn't usually get this cold in the summer, but never say never! )

And if he passes...? Then avoid the town forever after, if you value your life and liberty...

I swear!

drivingtest Pictures, Images and Photos

Sunday, 9 August 2009

From the Other Side

For those of you who are not beginning to see the other side of parenting teens yet:

Our 21 year old called yesterday. For his summer job he is running - yes, running - a campaign office for the current mayor of a major east coast city...yes, the city that is also known as a red fruit. I will try to record the whole conversation - actually it wasn't a conversation, it was a gratitude.

"Mom, when you are feeling most overwhelmed and you are wondering if all that you do and say is not heard, I want to tell you something that you can remember to put things in perspective.

I really do hear and remember what you have told me, whether I seemed like it at the time. Even the little things. Ma, are you listening."

I am listening. He has my attention.

"I'm in the car right now because there is an older woman who wanted to volunteer for the campaign but couldn't walk all the way to the office and doesn't drive, so I picked her up this morning and gave her a ride."

So I'm thinking, good he does service, I knew this. He gets our place in the whole world thinking.

"I just drove her home, and I remember how you taught me to always wait to make sure that someone I drop off can get her car started or get into the house. I was waiting at the end of her walk and she waved me on, but I didn't go. I waited to make sure she got in the house okay. She got all the way to the door then realized that she had left her pocketbook at the office and didn't have her key. Ma, she wouldn't have been able to get in her house if I hadn't waited for her.

So, I drove her back to get her bag, and now she is safe inside her house.

See, I really do remember the little things you say."


So just in case you are wondering if they listen, they do. And they remember and they do what you taught them.


Friday, 7 August 2009

Teen time!

When darling Saz suggested I write something here, I declined, mostly because my two lovelies are 9 and 12 years old. Not quite teens, no, not even nearly teens. I have a whole year to go yet. Tall Girl will be thirteen next November, no need to worry surely? She is still all sweetness and light, that's not about to end yet is it? Or is it? Hmm, think again!

It is the school holidays. We have just had a week away. Now you may think a week's holiday with another family which contained your best friend would be a joyous occasion? Think again.

My oldest lovely has become hormonal (poor thing) and it is showing (poor me!!). What has happened? Where has she gone? Her beautiful hair has become grease-ridden and lanky and her mood is worse!

The last straw was on our final day. Everyone gathered around the breakfast table, in various states of dress, some still in PJs others fully dressed, and some -who will be nameless- unwashed! All the children were full of chatter, except, except....... my preteen. There she was, PJ bottoms and a hoodie on, hood up, partly screening her scowling face! She sat mute, bottom lip almost touching the table.

And what dreadful thing could have happened to have brought on this disturbing behaviour I hear you ask?

There was no Marmite!

She spent several hours after that scrunched up on a sofa with her hood still up and her Nintendo DS bleeping and playing tuneless elevator music.

There is so much to look forward to in the school holidays. Oh Joy!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Whole Story As Told By The School Report Card...

Illinois School Report Card Pictures, Images and Photos

I know the school holidays have started... But I just had to get this off my chest - And it is an ample chest, a Matron Shelf, soi-disant, which is just as well, as I've got to bear so much upon it, and across my shoulders these days - In fact, since the very moment I became the Long-Suffering Mother of a Teen Terrorist - A little like Mother Theresa, but with less wrinkles and even less piety, in my case...!

Okay... Since Grizz was a tot, as loveable as he was when he was wee, we've received regular school reports telling us about his behaviour in the hours when we're not wholly responsible for what he says and what he does...

Since the wonderful Mrs Sked's Reception Class (age 4), we've been told about how he can be a bit of a chatter-box in class... 'You've raised a confident boy. Well done...' said one of my friends...

'He can be easily distracted', said the ensuing years' reports...

'He isn't always paying attention during lessons... He has a tendency to day-dream...'

Okay, so we've a creative child, with a short attention span...

Like a goldfish!

He'll grow out of it, friends said... It's just a phase!

Goldfish Pictures, Images and Photos

'Tell us something we don't know...', We joshed...

A serious pep-talk ensued...

Things improved... For a while.

And then came,

'He gets by on just the minimum...'

'We know he could do much better, if he'd only work harder...'

'He's a likeable child'... We knew this, or else we'd have tried to have him adopted much earlier!

The report card we received at the tail-end of term says, 'He's a likeable young man...'

Yes, we know he is... Thanks!

...But what happened to the serious, studious child we thought we'd have? The one who wears Harry Potter glasses, and always with his head, stuck in a book - The one getting better results in his exams than either of his parents ever did...

'Cause your kids always do better in school than their parents did, right?!
At least that's what all the research indicates...

We've come to the sorry conclusion that the man-child is simply bone-lazy... Lazy Pictures, Images and Photos

What do we do? How can we get the message over to The Boy that this time in your life matters soooo much... It only gets tougher as you grow up, not easier...

Hard work pays you back in good results... Usually.

My husband ran him round a 'Sink Estate' on the day he had his Driving Theory Test...

...He drove to a dead-end part of the city, twenty miles from our home... To show him where his life might lead, if he doesn't do as well as he ought, given his obvious intelligence...

Everyone there had bulldogs on leashes, and a man in a cagoule was sheltering from the rain - Under a tree - With his dog... The sun was shining, and it hasn't rained all week...

My husband stopped the car, pretending to ask directions from a crack-addict-faced woman with a Coke-Can fringe, lank locks pulled back into a material-less scrunchy... Sunken-cheeked, she had a bulldog tied to the bairn's push-chair with double thickness string... The bairn was as toothless as her mother, sucking seriously on a sickly sausage roll...

Grizz tried to central-lock the doors, and was rolling all the windows up frantically...

Shock tactics...? Well, we've tried (almost) everything now...

Any more tips?

Love you bloggeros and bloggeristas;

Still love you Grizzles, even tho'...your mother's at the end of her tether!

The initial shock... Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Sleep tight ... my martian

...don't let the bedbugs bite. Oh Those were the days! When they couldn't get to sleep without Mummy laying down next to them, after story time, to help relax them more, with thse made up tunes we sang when they were babies and toddlers. When they were malleable. Controllable. When we could BRIBE them still, at little financial cost to ourselves. We were needed, required, their sun, the moon and stars. Now it's Facebook, MSN and 'I like it better at his house.' or 'His Mum is so cool.' A dagger straight through the heart!

My daughter, sleeps in, like to day until 10.40am. Last night she was asleep by 9pm. She was tired, she had been working. Partying the night before at a friends Dad's 50th. They were on wash up duty. Am surprised actually, that she knows how to wash up! Here she can't load the dishwasher without muttering expletives and gagging, cos, 'it's so minging Mum!'

I totally get her sleeping in. I really do. I love, love my bed. It's one of my favourite places. But then I have to get out at 5.30am cos the dog needs out and is whining through my sleep. Apparently no one else hears her. Unless Larry is home. He does get up quickly for the dog. I'm sure a man prefers his dog over his wife. But that is another issue.

Now my son is sleepin soundly whilst I write this. He is a bit strange to me in this regard. His sleeping patterns are way beyond my understanding and capabilities! He finds it really hard to get up on school days, which is common, in fact normal I would say. If I don't shout the house and the street down. He doesn't move. Then when he does he HAS to shower! Even though I would swear he so before he went to bed. And he can't do a quick dip in and out like l do to freshen up after work, a minute or three. He in there for far longer. Ok maybe we won't go there actually. Suffice to say boys are from Mars. Martians in training!

Now the school holidays are on and l'm on holiday also. Twice last week I walked into the house to find he was still in bed at 3.15pm! WTF! Over the weekend I got him up by calling with cups of tea and toast, but say 1.20pm.

I refuse to get uptight and cross. Then I will ruin MY day and MY holidays. He tells me he doesn't go to bed particularly late. His light is usually off before mine, as when I have had a good book I can read far longer than I should. Than I should ? Who is telling me? I'm the adult.

Whilst talking to Mum and then Dad on the phone last week, I was telling of tall boys sleeping patterns. Dad or Le Bodger-JP casually said, 'Ah Lala (one of several pet names)... E eez a boy, just fourteen non? You must not worry. E needz eez sleep. You don't need me to explain eh? Mais non.... just leev 'im alone. Do not worry. E will be fine!' Leave 'im bee!'

So I have permission from my Dad and that's good enough for me. Larry doesn't even mention it. So I guess they know what they are talking about.

And I do too really on some level anyway. When I was in bedsit land in my late teens, on a Sunday after a 6 day week on my feet in the Hair Salon and a late pub night with Larry on a Saturday night. I would time my sleep-in until 1.45pm and then run down to Charlie Chester's Newsagent to buy my Sunday paper, fags and Refreshers. Then it was back to bed with the lot. Bliss. So nuff said Mother!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Lack of Experience

It’s 3.21 a.m. and the door to Junior’s den has just slammed. No, he’s not in a paddy. That’s just his normal way of closing a door when no one is around. Why close it gently when you can kick it shut? The old folk are in bed so ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’ The fact that he might wake one of us up would just never occur to him.

This is a large part of the secret as to why living with a teenager (in his case 21 going on 18!) can be so difficult. It is their age that causes the problem. Well Duh! We all know that, Scriptor. No, what I really mean to say is their lack of age. Lack of age equals – in many cases – lack of experiences that we have had for years and take for granted.

We have brought up children. Therefore we know how horrible it is to be woken night after night after night after night after... Well you get the picture. Therefore, if someone is asleep in the house – at whatever hour – we tend to take their need for sleep into account and tiptoe around a bit. Hoovering (i.e. vacuuming – is Hoovering a particularly UK phrase?) at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning would suit my lifestyle but it would never occur to me to do it because it would wake Partner-who-loves-tea. She likes to lie in on a Sunday morning.

Junior has never had the delights of being woken night after night after night... So waking someone up to ask if they know where his clean socks have all gone is no big deal to him. After all, he needs the socks and the parent can just go off to sleep again, can’t they. No they damn well can’t. Once woken it ain’t so easy at our age to drift back into the arms of Morpheus or whoever’s arms we happened to be dreaming about at the time. (His clean socks, by the way, are non-existent. All 700 pair are currently dirty socks and are scattered down the back of the settee or behind the television in his den.)

So it is with many other things in life. Junior has not lived through those experiences which help us to put ourselves in the shoes of others and appreciate their needs.

Of late, Junior has been cooking his own meals more frequently. In order to do so he takes the appropriate pans and crockery and cutlery from their proper places and leaves them anywhere, dirty. We clean them and put them away. (Yes, I know more fool us but we need them as well.) So when he next needs them they are in the correct place. The magic fairy has been and put them back. If he lived on his own he would begin to appreciate that there isn’t really a magic fairy and he would need to clean them himself if he wanted to use them again. He has never lived on his own. He therefore lacks that experience. What we take for laziness is to some extent simply a failure to appreciate the needs of others and that he has a role to play in running the household.

Dropping crumbs and less pleasant articles of food on the kitchen floor while doing his cooking is another obvious example. Keeping the floor clean has never been one of his duties. Had it been so he would appreciate that picking up dropped items when they are dropped is easier than cleaning them up when they’ve been trodden on and ground in.

In a recent post, wise Auntie Gwen said “Choose your battles carefully”. All too often we pick on one particular thing that has upset us – a dirty pan that we needed, being woken by a slammed door. In these cases the battle we should really be fighting is to make our children more aware of the general needs of others in the household. Either that or changing the locks on the front door and allowing them to experience at first hand the things that we have learned over the years...

Monday, 3 August 2009

auntiegwen's guide to parenting teenagers

Parenting teenagers is a doddle if you've worked in a zoo or on peace keeping missions in Iraq. Most of us haven't done that, I have learned the hard way, if any of this is at all useful, knock yourself out.

Don't watch Skins or Hollyoaks, especially Skins, it will fret you.

Don't ask questions that you won't like the answer to. I work on a strictly need to know basis. I'm sure that's much better for my peace of mind.

Find a good hiding place for your stuff. Teenage girls in particular think that any cosmetics/perfumes/toiletries that are in the house belong to anyone that needs them. You will buy everything and use nothing. This goes for shoes, clothes and jewellery too, it is much worse if you are the same size, your 17 year old daughter looks so much better in all your clothes. Teenage boys think all food in the house belongs to them, no matter how many times you tell them that if it's a fruit and nut toblerone it's yours, they'll still eat it.

Music has to be played at 1 decibel below ear bleeding to be fully appreciated by the teenage ear. Train them early to like your music, it hurts less when you like what's being played.

Choose your battles carefully - sure where's the harm if they look like they got dressed in the dark or have been at the dressing up box. Take pictures, lots of them - in years to come you'll have hours of enjoyment looking at the cut of them.

If you put food in the fridge, it will be eaten. If there is beer, it will be drunk. If your house gets the rep of having such items you will be descended on by a plague of hungry/thirsty teenagers. This is expensive.

They appear not to get tidier with age. You would think that having 3 teens you could delegate some of the chores out, spread the weight a bit. You can try. Good luck with that.

The behaviour level is sometimes similar to the toddler phase, especially when the hormone fairy has visited, they are significantly less cute though.

What excited them when they were 5, will excite them again at 16/17/18. They love trampolines, bouncy castles and jelly. If you do a birthday party with kids games like pass the parcel and provide alcohol, you will have some very happy teenagers.

Remember when your adorable little cherub of a toddler got you up at 6am every day ? It is incredibly enjoyable to go into a teenagers bedroom (double the fun if they're hungover/woke you up when they stumbled in drunk/vomited in a bathroom cleaned that very day) and wake them up. You can bounce on their bed, open the curtains and say in a nice cheerful tone "S'morning now, morning now, get up, get up, get up, I'm wake now, entertain me, hungry now, bored now, can we go to the park ?" or any other little saying your cherub was fond of in their pre dawn years.

Love from your

auntiegwen xxx

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Are you calm? Deep breath! That's right...

alfons mucha Pictures, Images and Photos

This is Part 2 of the Wiki Advice for Befuddled Parents of Teens that I mentioned on 24 July, mes dahlinks...

Tell your teenager that you understand the feelings he is going through. One of the most common problems between parents and teens is that the teen believes that his parents have no understanding of what he's feeling.

This makes sense to me...but sometimes he just doesn't want to talk to me, and then I retreat into silence from him. ...Stalemate.

See the situation through his eyes; not yours.
Teens view phrases such as "When I was a kid..." as a sign to tune out. Helpful as your advice may be, if he feels that he can't voice his opinion, he won't be very open to yours. Try to get him talking about how he feels about an issue.

I do find with this step, it's easier to offer to take them somewhere neutral... We've had our best conversations out eating someplace he feels comfortable... Or on holiday, or just away from home for an evening, when I sometimes find he's sometimes more relaxed... and we practically can't shut him up, he talks so much...

Good piece of advice this one.

Don't brush his ideas off and continue on after you've heard him out.
He'll feel as if you don't care about what he has to say. Who knows? He might come up with a reasonable solution to your problem.

I've never belittled, or brushed off, my teen - I've always proceeded with love, and sometimes that's the hardest - To know that you do all that the parenting manuals say, and he can still spit in your eye... Well, not quite!

Admit when you're wrong -- but still show a bit of authority.
It will make him feel he can trust you if you swallow your pride when appropriate. Teens know that even adults make mistakes and they hate it when the adult just won't acknowledge this. But if you don't show some authority, he will think that he is the only one who is right. Make sure there's balance.

I have lost every semblance of authority, I'm afraid... However, I always admit it if I'm wrong about something... Anything in fact!

Encourage him to express himself in the future.
Most teens hold their frustration in too long and then do something drastic when it's too much.

Grizz, have you considered starting up your own blog? One for teenagers..., where you can say what you want and get advice and support from others in your position?

Oh, that sounds like too much hard work, you say... Right!

Toodles, mes bloggy Parenting Champions!

Fight the good fight...

Or, in Mucha's and my case - ever trying to be a pacifist - Dance!


'Pretty Ballerina' - So not! (An ABBA reference, for those of you still puzzling about Fhina's sanity clause!)

the dance - mucha Pictures, Images and Photos

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Our Resident Teenage Terrors... Scriptor Senex...

This is John aka Scriptor Senex
aged 15
one of his daily blogs is Rambles from my Chair...which he does so well...

There he sits, astride nature, on his ration of a weekend's Navy Brandy - Man of the Sea - Much as he does now, actually; For there is nothing about life and nature that the Wise Scriptor does not know...

This is a Chronicler of Times Past, the Ever-Present and our Teens' Future, and we are more than delighted to have this man on board with our blog on Parenting Teens...

We hope to learn at his knee, don't we Saz?

So, get writing, Sir - Never mind saying you're too busy with family and travels in the Highlands and Islands... We benefit from your male balance here...

And being perched on that barrel, you look as if you are very good at achieving balance in life!