Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Changing Christmases

When my beautiful children were small, Christmas was always a magical time for me. Although I was madly busy, the late nights of wrapping and assembling eleventy squillion fiddly bits of pink plastic (oh I remember well, the Barbie motor home of 1997) and the very early starts (the 5am Toys r us queues to buy Teletubbies, where I had to queue 3 times as they'd only sell me 1 at a time) I still loved it. Every single thing seemed worth it when we got to Christmas Day

I embraced the concept of Christmas whole heartedly, we had Christmas on steroids. What can I say? I was young and had a lot more energy.

Now, in my middle years, with my children growing up and aged 18, 15 and 14 you'd think I could ease up a bit. Maybe now they know Santa doesn't do it all they'd accept a low key Christmas.

Not on your life.

I am still buying chocolate Advent calendars, they still expect a stocking filled with wrapped presents (they have to be in different wrapping paper to the one I've used that year as they come from Santa) they still have a present from Santa and again wrapped in different paper and not my handwriting on the gift tag, we still leave Santa a drink and a mince pie, Rudoph still gets a carrot. I still have to have the Santa footprint stencil filled with glitter and the reindeer food mixed with glitter, we're big on glitter chez auntiegwen. We buy the same food, we have the same tree and decorations (19 years old now), for years I have filled the house with the smell of Crabtree and Evelyn Noel, as soon as any of us smell it, we know it's Christmas.

I still do all I've ever done, we just seem to get through more alcohol and have more people as boyfriends and girlfriends join us.

The more things in their life change the more they want some things to stay the same. May it always be so. May I always be blessed to spend it with the people I love the most.

Have a very happy Christmas with love from your

auntiegwen xxx

Thursday, 16 December 2010

I Really Should Be More Careful

When you have kids, especially older kids, and your house has an open door policy, I think you need to think twice about what you venture out of your room wearing.

Gone are the good old days, when I could walk around the house without proper "female" support. (Yes, my prudishness is now going to shine through.)

I really am very glad that my son's twenty year old friends feel so very at home that they don't think twice about walking into our house without knocking. But how I wish I had been dressed a bit more properly when that happened the other day.

I guess form now on I am either have to get dressed properly, or I am going to have to buy an old ladies robe to walk around the house in.

Or maybe I will just stay in bed.

Make me feel better and tell me I am not the only one who has been caught by surprise while dressed less than flatteringly (is that a word?) in their own home.

Susie @ NewDayNewLesson

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

For the love of...

When Saz and I began with Mad, Manic Mamas, for me it was a chance to share the trials and the tribulations (and the triumphs) of bringing up Teen Terrorists.

For a long time, I wondered where had my baby gone? The one that gave me hugs full of warmth I could live on, like pure air. ...The one I loved more than life itself.

In its place, there was this snarling, swearing, brattish devil-child, who could bring me to tears of frustration and mad grief.

So, that part fulfilled the 'Mad' part of the blog title which was all of Saz's making.

And I was 'Manic' all right. I tore my hair and rent my clothes with grief. I didn't go so far as to cover mirrors, but I feared all was lost. My love would not return to me.

But I had sweet snapshots, from time to time, of the child that had gone before. Loving, caring and kind. Funny and clever. Bright and warm.

That, and the succour here from writers and readers at 'Mad, Manic Mamas' kept me this side of Sane. Thankfully. Thank you.

And now he is at University. He calls me for slight assistance with his essays. He asks me for advice. He sends me kisses and love by text. And the occasional growl. He gives me hugs with the strength and the passion of a bear. He seems to have grown to appreciate his parents, 'Rents, he calls us, and all the love we have given him, unquestioningly, over the years.

I am glad, full-heart of it.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Big Bird...

Oh dear, it's been almost three months since last I was here 'in post'.

I have been finding my way through this time when my Baby Bird, Grizz, left the nest, full-fledged, you see.

And how is he doing?

Well. Good. I'm very proud of him in fact.

He didn't choose to go to a University far away.

For which considerate thought I am very grateful. My nephew is in Bournemouth. It makes for a long, difficult, expensive journey for him to get home. I think he feels that.

My son, on the other hand, is less than twenty miles from home. He lives in student digs two miles from my workplace. He sees me once a week-ish at lunch-time. We hang together, my big boy and I.

I chide him for wearing light clothes against the bitter weather. We peer into shop windows, in search of likely Christmas pressies for him.

We laugh at odd things, people, we see in the street. We chuckle together at the possibly deluded man who is singing loudly, perhaps attempting to be spotted by a Talent Scout, or X-Factor.

When I have to go back to work, and him to lectures, we hug. Warmly.

I return to the office, a great big lump within my throat.

Oh, it's Fhina by the way.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

How Unhip Can One Mother Be?

I used the word "Dissed" on a recent Expat Mum post; the word means to be slagged off, disrespected, put down - that sort of thing. So then I assume because it was stuck in my head, I inadvertently used it in the kitchen. Picture the scene:

Queenager (screeching to a halt and acting all freeze-frame like): "Did you just say dissed?"

Me: Err, yes. Why? What? ...... What?

Q: "Dissed? Ugh. Do you know what it means?

Me (nervously): "Of course I know what it means."

Q: "Well, it's a really bad word now". (I'm assuming she meant bad as in un-hip, as opposed to rude. I mean, it can't be a swear word. Can it?)

Apparently the IN words (with Americans teens) are -

"Sketch" - Always prefaces vague plans which you're very likely going to shoot down. eg. "I know this sounds a bit sketch mom, but..... . (Sketchy).

"Besties" - Apparently BFF (Best friends forever) is a bit old hat, and it's now Besties.

"Bad" - As in "good". I know Michael Jackson did a song about it years ago, but these kids were barely out of the womb then, so they've revived it. Some of them even think they invented it.

"Sick" - means really good, rather than weird or somewhat sinister, which I'm sure it used to mean.

"Dope" - no, it no longer means pot. Well, it does in older circles, but with teens it is yet another word for really good.

"Boss" - easily confused with "THE boss", this also means really good. Usage - "He's so boss".

"Douche" - apparently the "bag" part of the insult is no longer required. You just call someone a "douche", (pronounced "doosh").

"Hella" - specific to teens in Northern California (everyone else only uses it in jest), probably translates as "hellish". Usage - (11.30am) "It's hella early isn't it?"

And "Rad" - (radical). , which I swear was IN last week, is no longer cool to use, so I suppose I"d better drop that one from my lexicon right now.

I just can't keep up.

Have I missed any?

Expat Mum

Monday, 8 November 2010

Keeping Tracks - How far is too far?

Chrysler have just announced a new phone device to help with vehicle theft protection. If your Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep is moved when you're not in it (ie. stolen) you'll get a text message. Not quite sure what the text message will say, nor what you are supposed to do about it, but this device is also being touted as a means of keeping track of your wannabee Evil Knieval teen.

See, the system allows you to choose the speed at which your car is travelling when it decides to text you.  So if your crazy teen decides to race the friend in the next lane, or just loses concentration because of excessive head-banging and general high jinks in the drivers' seat, you'll get a text. Again, not quite sure what you're supposed to do at this point since the last thing you'll want is to distract errant teen further by texting back or phoning. Perhaps they should put one of those disablers in the car too, so that you can just flash them a quick warning that the engine is being cut and advise them to pull over to the hard shoulder to cool off?

Personally, I think it's not a bad idea that teens know that we know when they're driving recklessly. If it potentially saves their lives, I'd do it in the blink of an eye.

What say you?

PS - Here's a few links to help keep your teen driver safe.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

One Of My Worst Nightmares Come True

Before anyone has a heart attack, I say worst nightmare in a tongue in cheek way.

But seriously, is it not a nightmare when your twenty year old son (home for a night from the army) comes down to you and says "This house is a pigsty!" ?

After I double checked to make sure it was not his father standing there next to me (because the conversation was word for word the same as my husband would have had with me) and after I was convinced my son wasn't channeling his father from overseas, I almost burst into tears.

Then my son in my husband like fashion said "you're not going to cry now are you?". And what was his reply when I went into my "yes, I do want to cry, I have so many things going on and I am not managing half of them" mode? Well you have two younger kids who are home why are you not making them help you clean up?

I think I am going to hire him as my house manager. I think that would be the best revenge. Would it not?
I think I will also pay him what I get paid for the job.


Susie @NewDayNewLesson

Saturday, 23 October 2010

It's the little things

Why oh why do kids not clear up after themselves? It's every generations headache and an old, old chestnut l know.

It's usually me who gives in and just takes dishes through to the kitchen. Today l cleared 5 glasses, 3 plates and 6 mugs from my son's den.

In the living room a plate with the remnants of a kebab lurked pungently, but l left it there until he popped home from school for lunch.

He ate a plate of noodles and l asked him to clear both plates when he was done. He didn't. Soy sauce swallowed the room.

Later as l collected the evidence together and began to walk to the kitchen, l turned and went into his bedroom and placed them upon his bed. I closed the door behind me for maximum effect.

When he returned from school he paused in his room, looking, figuring it all out. I lurked in the hall, he said loudly,

'Do you think l don't get this is a ploy on your part?'

Me, 'That may well be the case,'

Son, 'Well for that l will leave them, not playing these games.'

Me- appearing disappointed, but secretly knowing, with a touch of blag for good measure,
' Ok, fair enough, thought it would be a funny thing to do, don't get het up.'

I walked down the hall to the kitchen, smiling to myself.

Two hours later, he appeared in the kitchen, plates in hand, trying so hard not to smile, ' Don't gloat,' he said, dimples threatening.

Job done. I'll wait and see if this light-hearted episode will stay with him. There will be bigger and more  important battles. I know.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

I don't get it...

In the early 1970's when I was 16 and  'behaving badly' , the misdemeanour's I was guilty of included;  going very occasionally to the  pub drinking Babysham; smoking ciggies; sex with my boyfriend; and coming in a half hour later than my Saturday and only night 10.30 curfew. I was actually the latest developer in my convent school year and even secretly became engaged to my boyfriend. None of this secret world was brought back home, as my Dad was a very vocal strict Latin parent. This was my 'rebellion'.

I was then sent to the USA for a second chance at school, but alas, I found I was a novelty in the small town and I revelled  rebelled  in all the attention. It didn't last long as I was caught out after 8 months there and sent home for my sins. Not my best days. Only later did I realise that 17 in the USA was under age unlike the UK. Again my misdemeanour's seemed to be the usual teenage antics of the time, but mine were now away from home and on another mothers watch.  I know I wasn't bad un. I know I was an unhappy teen and craved affection and attention. Little has changed actually methinks.

Now as mother to a 16 yr old son who lives with me and  a 19 yr old daughter who lives with her Dad, I seem to be in the positon that when l see her, which isn't very often, she bares it all. A good thing perhaps. Am I her confidante or is this shock value. I allow for exaggeration. It makes me shudder with how seemingly casual she is about her life as a 2010 late teen, who is on a gap year and gainfully employed. Considered in our culture to be an adult. Making her won choices. She has left home, well my home. Stories of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll abound.

Talking with my younger friends I do realise that the culture is very different form my decade. 'Recreational drugs', (how I abhor the oxymoron) appear the norm. They are cheaper than alcohol and the effects longer lasting.

Yet I keep thinking of my Monday night badminton pal who now spends her days by her son's hospital bed, after finding him not breathing on her sofa. Resuscitated he has not come out of his heroin induced coma, they fear the worst. The teenagers l know are causal about their antics and fearless.

There are no stereotypes here. This is classless and cultureless. What did we do wrong? Do we sit and wait and fear the phone call?  Did this happen to spite us or inspite of us? Is it about her or us? Did we push too hard? Why even tell me? For me to intervene and how? Am I being unrealistic these days?

In the middle of divorce and with little contact with Larry she admits he is trying to reign her. Having lived with an addict for most of my adult life I find this almost unfathomable and l feel helpless.

One never stops being a  parent.

Saz x

Friday, 8 October 2010

Expat Mum - Boring the Pants off Everyone

I'm turning into one of those boring mothers. You know, the ones with brand sparkly new babies who tell/blog about every little burp, smile and poop? (There I've said it.)

Except in my case it's about the Queenager who is a senior (upper sixth) at high school. Every event is "the last one" so I'm running around with a camera trying to capture every moment. I'm boring the pants off everyone but other senior-parents, talking about which colleges she's interested in and what she might study. I can't help it. It's all so exciting, and a little bit sad of course. (Talk to me again next summer.) You'd think she was moving to Pluto the way I'm going on and if most kids these days are anything to go by, she'll be home as soon as she graduates college anyway.

I"m even thinking of redecorating her room so that when guests use it (as they inevitably will, whether she likes it or not) it won't look as girlie. I'm going to refrain however, as I remember when my own mother messed around with my room and it was a very strange feeling coming back to a room I barely recognised. Actually, the fact that she'd given my room to my brother and put me in the box room probably had more to do with that particular trauma, but never mind. I'm over it now.

I know what's causing it though. Apart from the fact that my eldest is fleeing the coop that is.

It's the thought of being the only female in a house of wet-towel-dropping, burping, smelly males.


Expat Mum    


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Pick Your Battles.....Sigh.

That has been my mantra in the almost-18 years I have been mothering. Or learning how to mother. Or crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

To be fair, the Queenager never argued about clothes, and will still wear whatever she puts her hand on first thing in the morning. (Rather funny - placing certain shirts at the very front to see if she'll come downstairs wearing them. She does.) The Man-Child wouldn't argue; he'd just put back whatever I'd put out and come down wearing a completely different outfit. Fortunately, because he didn't like wearing "smart clothes" (that is, spiffy clothes, to any US readers) most of his stuff could stand up to a school day. The Little Guy (a very verbal 7 year old) will argue the pros and cons of whatever I suggest but since it all looks the same anyway, I let him get on with it.

We've been pretty adamant about not allowing the teens to get strange piercings I'll admit. So would you if you could guarantee your kids would be the ones to get horribly infected AND you had to pay the health bills that we face over here. Our mantra for those situations is "When you're off the payroll". It also comes in handy for motor bike arguments, threats to go hang-gliding and other death-defying pursuits.

And up until now, we haven't had too many hair arguments. Not if you discard the faux-hawk that we had going a few years ago. Oh yes. Man-child, in a desperate bid to rebel against something, anything, got himself a faux-hawk. That's the one with the spike but the sides aren't all completely shaved off. It made him look very aggressive in my opinion, and it seemed that one female agreed as it was abruptly removed a few months later.

Two weeks ago he started banging on about wanting either a proper mohawk or blue hair. Blue Hair? Interestingly, I had more of a problem with the mohawk and the Ball & Chain vetoed the blue hair. Man-child dictated that it was one or the other, but I persuaded him to go and see the trendy Eurpean hair stylist round the corner who could give him something really rockin' with perhaps a touch of blue in it. (He eventually conceded that if his entire head was dyed blue he'd look like a Lego character.)

This past weekend he duly took himself off to the trendy hair stylist - who wasn't in. So he then took himself up to the punky barber shop. And got a mohawk.

It's not as bad as I thought it would look as you can see his huge eyes and he still has hair on the sides. A bit. And it'll grow.

What really upsets me however, is that for our 20th wedding anniversary, we decided to get a proper family photo portrait done. And it's booked for next week!

The photographer tells me she's a whizz with Photoshop! Sigh!

Expat Mum

Monday, 20 September 2010

Straight from the horse's mouth...

One of the (slight) concerns I have for my man-child moving away from home for the first time today, as he is, is that he will not eat well enough.

I am anxious that he try to procure at least the Five-A-Day fruit and veg portions required for a healthy diet, to maximise the benefits...

One of the options we considered was him staying in Student Accommodation where two meals per day are provided. I was in the self-same type of Hall of Residence in my own first year in College. ...My mind fills with a vintage gauzy veil if you ask me how many years ago that was.

But it occurred to us that this could well be an utter waste of money, given his childhood reaction to school meals, which were purported to be decent and nutritious.

From the tender age of six, at his insistence, he ate only packed (sandwich) lunches that we prepared for him daily... Later he acquired fresh sandwiches from the supermarket near his High School, eschewing school meals, in spite of the fact that it would have been far more convenient for two working parents for him to have scoffed them instead!

One morning last year, we were in a right pickle, both of us parents so busy with work and running late so, rushing to get us all out of the house, I asked that he take the money I was then holding out to him and buy a sandwich from the school cafeteria, to save us journey time...

You know the kind of stress I mean, I know you do!

And he paused for a moment, and looked at me with outrage and horror, shrieking,

"Mum, do you know just how awful they are?!

I think they would rather boil horses' hooves, than cook us anything decent to eat!"

We left the house that morning in gales of laughter...

I'm going to miss that.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Baby Bird Flees the Nest...

Little by little, I have been gathering bits and pieces together in preparation for my son leaving to go to College later this month...

I have been super-super-organised and have already filled a big, lidded cardboard box with booty: Crockery and cutlery, toiletries and stationery requisites, and earlier this year, I bought the aforementioned vintage trunk, currently residing in the garage...

I am washing and drying laundry ready for the filling of a wardrobe, or three, and we still need to get him a couple of items so that he can take this new step in his life. We were supposed to do this on Friday, when I took a day's leave from work to spend time with my son, whom I've seen very little of lately, as it happens.

He felt ill after a stay-over at his girlfriend's new student house, and was tired after a night of coughing, unfortunately, (I think he's caught a bug from my husband), so we're planning to do things over the weekend instead.

And on Friday night, I found myself enjoying the veritable tippy-tappy, and talking to my friend over Facebook, which is very handy for that, if for very little else!


And crying. mainly crying, as things worked out...

I'm not sure where that came from, because I'm all right about Grizz leaving, I am. We've seen him so rarely recently that it's almost like he's already moved out, except I keep finding dirty dishes and half-filled glasses on, around and under the sofa, and rogue, smelly socks roam the floors of my house like pilgrims in search of the Holy Grail!

But I'm obviously moping a tad, in spite of my sanguine, and organised, exterior. And a few words from a dear friend who's plotting her daughter's departure to College in Leeds, to read journalism, were all it took to turn on the taps... For a short time. Wine may also have been involved. Possibly.

Grizz is off to read Geography. Did I tell you already that I'm very proud of him? He's only off to Newcastle, so not very far. Still in slapping distance, actually! (Only kidding, honestly!)

I expect I shall be meeting him from time to time for lunch while I'm still working in the city. I shall be dispensing sound advice and ten pound notes, I should imagine.

This is the role of a mother, is it not?

To love them and to let them go.

To cry tears that are a mixture of joy and regret...

For what has been, and for what shall probably never be the same again.

Bon Voyage, my treasure!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

One Less Teen, Way too Many Leftovers

My second teen has left the house. (Oldest is in the army, second is now in a pre-army school.)

I now have a problem. I need to relearn how to cook.

My second son has consistently been my biggest eater. I always cook a lot for the Sabbath and then end up having leftovers for the next few days. (I figure if I work so hard cooking, I should get the benefit of leftovers and a few days off.) For the most part, the leftovers usually got eaten. More often then not by my ravenous second son.

Now that he is not home during the week, I am suddenly finding myself with way too many uneaten leftovers. Leftovers that sadly go to waste.

The problem is that I stink at portions. For any given Sabbath meal, a whole family can usually drop by unannounced and I will have enough to feed them. This was never a problem because I always had my eating machine son home.

At least over the holidays now he is home. I get two weeks reprieve before I try to relearn cooking amounts.

Who said having kids leave was easy??

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Mum, you're embarrassing me!

I think I'm turning into my mother. Actually I know I am. I embarrass my child, just like my mum used to embarrass me. I love my mother; she is a warm, generous, funny lady but when I was a teenager her loudness and daftness used to sometimes make me want to hide away. At family parties she would dress up in my brother's school blazer, squeeze into his grey trousers, roll them up to her knees and pretend to be Jimmy Krankie. Everyone loved her 'Fandabbydozy' impressions, they would squeal with delight, but my brother and I would be mortified.

Now I have my own teenager who finds me annoying, especially when I sing, hum or move to music in a certain way - in the car or in the kitchen, even though there is no-one else around to see me. He rolls his eyes, whines 'M-u-u-u-m-m, p-l-e-a-s-e' and I have to stop. I mustn't act silly in front of his mates, ask them too many questions or in any way entertain them although this summer they have all been very grateful that I have been around to feed them bacon butties on a regular basis.

However my mum's Jimmy Krankie impersonation pales into insignificance compared to the damage I may have caused my son by subjecting him to my performance in 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' earlier this year. I feel he may need therapy.

Yet today I saw a chink of acceptance, a little sliver of hope that he may be growing up a little and is realising that I'm not so bad after all. Getting out of the car he walked beside me as we made our way into town and said,

"Actually it's okay if I walk alongside you now. Just don't sing, ok?"

Trish from Mum's Gone to...

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Same old, same old

We're all back under one roof again. The Queenager spent a glorious 5 weeks at Northwestern University (half an hour away but she had to stay on campus the whole time). The Man-Child has had an incredible summer with golf camps and rock school, and of course two weeks on his own in the house while me and the other two came to England. The Ball & Chain stayed in Chicago to supervise, and M-C played high school golf almost every day, but the freedom was heaven to him.

For a lot of the time it was just me and the Little Guy (now 7) in the house. Yesterday he looked around, looked at me and, totally deadpan, said:

"Well, there's no doubt they're back".

Oh yes. The evidence is all there:

- 3 pairs of giagantic size 14 shoes in the hallway. They don't even fit under the hallstand like everyone else's - not that their owner has even tried.

- Wet towels all over the place. (I have decided not even to touch the ones lying on their beds - sleeping on a damp mattress might do the trick.)

- a fridge that's devoid of food no matter how many times I replenish supplies.

- computers and Internet left on all night. (Big consequences there.)

- all the mugs in the kitchen have vanished.

- TVs tuned to Top Gear or America's Top Model. (The fact they've seen every single episode seems to be beside the point.)

- pungent odours coming from one room and overpowering scents from the other.

School starts next week so I'll stay off their backs for the moment!

Expat Mum

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Is It Any Better Now That He Is Not A Teen?

My eldest has turned twenty today. The first of my five children to have crossed over from the teen years into ?????? adulthood.

All I want to know is where the heck have these last twenty years flown?

I was only six months older than him when I gave birth to him. Those good old years when I was still naive enough to think I knew everything.

Not much has changed since yesterday. My son is still an amazing person with a great heart. A person who can also at times behave a bit like a spoiled child. (Can you tell that I am still annoyed about him not giving me a kiss hello the other night because he was too tired and needed to go to bed. Uh huh, that extra two seconds of sleep is going to make a real big difference. On the other hand, he is probably nicer than I was at his age....)

To answer my own question, no it's not any better that my eldest is not a teen anymore. Aside from it meaning that I am getting older, as any parent will attest to, as much as you love and trust your kids, you always have that little special part in your heart to think and worry about and for them.

So Happy 20th Birthday kiddo.

Your smile lights up any room. (No matter what you are wearing.)

Your sense of style is all your own.

(Since I am not taking credit for the less than successful, I won't take credit for the successful either.)

You might see the world from your own unique vantage point.

But you know how much you are loved and you know how proud we are of you.

May you find your way in life. A path that brings you joy, serenity, peace, love, health, wealth and of course the dream car you have been pining for since you were three. (No, sorry, we didn't buy you a car for your birthday.)
And for now, enjoy thinking that you know everything.

I will now head off to drown my sorrows at growing old.

Susie @ NewDayNewLesson

Monday, 23 August 2010

Starting Out...

Auntie Gwen said it first - Last week was immensely stressful, and not just for our wee (nowadays often ridiculously tall!) bairns...

I'm blogging over at MINE this week about how Grizz did on Results Day, and also what happens next.

Bring on the empty nest! (Wipes away tear...)

This is just the start for us again, is it not? Not unlike the first day at school, when we snapped them for posterity fresh in their school uniforms, new collars chafing on tender necks, shiny shoes polished to within an inch of their lives...

Now we get to start worrying about them all over again, as they embark upon even more independent living; Finding a place of their own; Cleaning house and doing laundry for themselves (Heaven forbid, or we'll be paying even more for fumigation than we do now!); Going out hunting for food all by themselves in the world; Making even tougher decisions - To go to lectures, or stay in bed!

And this time it's costing us an arm and a leg to keep them there. I don't begrudge one penny of it. For me, this time is about growing up even more than they have to date; It's about finding out who they are, making new friends, stretching their minds, learning about what makes other tick... Yes, I know it's also about drinking and partying, but as long as he devotes just as much energy to studying, I can be very tolerant.

Of course, I did chuckle to myself after I'd hacked into Grizz's e-mail account to check that he had his place at Uni to study Geography, and I noted that his first ever compulsory Field Trip in the new term involves a stay at a draughty and exposed, northerly coastal caravan park only around forty miles from our home!

Oh, the adventure!

Great luck to all of you whose children are starting out in the autumn and those taking gap years too, or who are lucky enough to be starting apprenticeships and jobs...

Blessings all. Wherever they are going in life.

Thursday, 19 August 2010


This morning after a very sleepless night, the Eldest Beautiful Daughter and I went to school to collect her A2 results. We timed it just to arrive at 8am as they opened the doors.

It's quite startling to a middle aged Mummy to see so many of these teenager creatures at such a time. Who knew they were capable of morning? As the tension level wasn't quite high enough, a box of the school's results had been mistakenly delivered to a local 6th form College, this meant we had to wait for the box to come back. After 11 minutes we're allowed in, it did feel like a fortnight but my watch told me differently and who am I to disagree?

The actual exam results are quite difficult to read and I'm not talking about my middle aged at arms length squinting type hard to read, just hard to decipher and I'm a teacher for feck's sake, could they not just put in bold across the top - Your A2 result is level...
Much less stressful, all round, I feel. Yes, I do agree, if I was in charge everything would be much better, so glad you're with me on that.

Eventually we worked out the she had indeed achieved the magic B C C required to secure her place, so in a few weeks time the Eldest Beautiful Daughter will be off to the place where they take all my money and she gets to perfect her drinking technique. And if we're really lucky she'll get a degree too.

I hope if you were collecting results today, you got what you needed. Much love from your

auntiegwen xxx

Friday, 6 August 2010

On love...

Do you find yourself forgetting how adorable young children can be?

When you're wrangling teens, it's a lot like herding cats, except occasionally cats are more obedient, more vocal, eat a lot less, and don't demand that you fill their cars up with petrol...

Grizz has returned from his hols in Zante, having a) with his gang of 18 mates, been pulled over by the Police on wrongful suspicion of assault b) being accused as a group of hitting girls, by a gang of 'Scousers' c) being robbed of $100 (circa 60 Euros, but I can't find the Euro button), by the owner of their hotel for dirt allegedly left by his mates on three pillowcases. He refused to give them back their passports unless Grizz paid up for all of them... d) having carried one of his stone-cold unconscious mates back to the hotel after a frightful night out e) having more new friends on his Facebook account than Paris Hilton f) having almost run out of money in the first week g) having, for the first time ever in his life, decked someone h) having survived...

I can breathe now, I find. Now he's back in Blighty.

And my colleague brought her sort-of grand-daughter, (her partner's GD), in to the office this week, and we oohed and aahed like only mothers can, at the antics of two year old Freya, who is oh so pretty, darling compliant, friendly, smiling, chatty and loving...

And we go right back into caring parent mode, do we not - I removed a dangerous stapler from Freya's hands as she roamed across the desk anchored by her reins, giving her a fluffy spotty material covered box instead, (our Suggestion Box, don't ask, it's never been used!) to play with and some assorted desk-top teddies...

When I left for lunch, Freya was tutored to say, in the most sweet voice, "Bye, bye Fhina!", between mouthfuls of chicken and ham from her lunch-box...

There was quite the lump in my throat.

It never really goes away, does it?

Our fears for their welfare.

Our caring about them and how they fare in life.

Our love...

Monday, 2 August 2010

I love you...

I know this isn't original, it's a piece I found in a link I clicked on that took me to Stanford Edu...

At the time, I was reading a thread on a forum about a 17 year old girl, who was crying that she was just desperate to have children.

More experienced (and probably world-weary) parents pointed this article out to her.

My apologies if you have already read it some place else.

I loved it! The thoughts that particularly chimed with me involved never being able to read a newspaper in, oh, thirteen years, and learning to dress an octopus... Except my octopus could also arch his back making it almost impossible to put an article of clothing upon him!


" ..Preparation for parenthood...

It's not just a matter of reading books and decorating the nursery. Here are 12 simple tests for expectant parents to take to prepare themselves for the real-life experience of being a mother or father.

1. Women: To prepare for maternity, put on a dressing gown and stick a pillowcase filled with beans down the front. Leave it there for 9 months. After 9 months, take out 10% of the beans.
Men: To prepare for paternity, go to the local drug store, tip the contents of your wallet on the counter, and tell the pharmacist to help himself. Then go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office. Go home. Pick up the paper. Read it for the last time.

2. Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels, and how they have allowed their children to run wild. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior. Enjoy it -- it'll be the last time in your life that you will have all the answers.

3. To discover how the nights will feel, walk around the living room from 5 pm to 10 pm carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious noise) playing loudly. At 10 pm, put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1 am. Put the alarm on for 3 am. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2 am and make a drink. Go to bed at 2:45 am. Get up again at 3 am when the alarm goes off. Sing songs in the dark until 4 am. Put the alarm on for 5 am. Get up. Make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.

4. Can you stand the mess children make? To find out, first smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer. Stick your fingers in the flower beds, then rub them on the clean walls. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

5. Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems: first buy an octopus and a bag made out of loose mesh. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out. Time allowed for this: all morning.

6. Take an egg carton, using a pair of scissors and a pot of paint, turn it into an alligator. Now take the tube from a roll of toilet paper. Using only Scotch tape and a piece of foil, turn it into an attractive Christmas candle. Last, take a milk carton, a ping pong ball, and an empty packet of Cocoa Pops and make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower. Congratulations! You have just qualified for a place on the play group committee.

7. Forget the BMW and buy a station wagon. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Get a dime. Stick it in the cassette player. Take a family-size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seats. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There. Perfect.

8. Get ready to go out. Wait outside the bathroom for half an hour. Go out the front door. Come in again. Go out. Come back in. Go out again. Walk down the front path. Walk back up it. Walk down it again. Walk very slowly down the road for 5 minutes. Stop to inspect minutely every cigarette butt, piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue, and dead insect along the way. Retrace your steps. Scream that you've had as much as you can stand until the neighbors come out and stare at you. Give up and go back into the house. You are now just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.

9. Always repeat everything you say at least five times.

10. Go to your local supermarket. Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a preschool child -- a fully-grown goat is excellent. If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goats eat or destroy. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

11. Hollow out a melon. Make a small hole in the side. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone. Tip the rest into your lap, making sure a lot of it falls on the floor. You are now ready to feed a 12-month-old baby.

12. Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street, Barney, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

When you find yourself singing "I Love You" at work, you finally qualify as a parent".

Monday, 26 July 2010

How Crap a Parent Are You?

Not wanting to re-invent the wheel, I'm blogging about the unlikely odds that my kids ever reached their teenage years over at Expat Mum.

How bad were you?

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Always look on the bright side of life, te tum te tum te tum te tum

As you get on a bit and the teenagers head towards legal adulthood, life can occasionally be tricky but you know me, your auntie is the eternal middle aged Pollyanna.

My best bits of having children aged 18, 15 and nearly 14 by auntiegwen aged nearly 44.

You get to have breakfast at the weekend with your daughter. She is returning home after a night out and you're just getting up at 6 like you always do.

Weekend mornings become very peaceful, there is no rush to swimming/ballet/drama/rugby/horse riding. You are the only person awake till at least mid day.

There is so much less driving and waiting about for you and less money paid out on hobbies and extra curricular activities if your children just want to drink, entice members of the opposite sex or play Call of Duty most of the weekend.

Everyone smiles at you as you walk down the street, well at your very beautiful daughters and hot boy of a son beside you. You are now invisible but you can pretend they're looking at you.

On holiday with your beautiful children you get served very quickly in every restaurant or bar, the service is impeccable and there is always something compliments of the house. There will always be a waiter/ess who will fancy your offspring and want to impress.

Now, hasn't your auntie cheered you up and given you something to look forward? You're very welcome.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Going So Fast, It's Passing Me By

Individual days with tumultuous teens can seem so very long at times...

But then the whole era seems to be rushing by me.

My number 4 child, after an eye-awakening senior year , is on his way to college in the fall. Another milestone...

Two daughters are one their way to high school and we have only one son left in middle school...they are all truly teenagers.

So while Fhina considers how to re-appropriate the well-loved, and much used dining room table in her home, I am noticing that within 5 short years our house will be similarly empty.

That's the thing about teenagers, just when we think we can't stand to be around them at all any more -- we're not. They move on. After all, this is what they are supposed to do.

Moving on. A metaphorical event occurred today:

EJ and I ran a 5k road race "together". It was fun to plan, to train, to sign up, and to wear matching shirts. We looked forward to the time alone and the common interest. As we lined up at the starting line the excitement of the all female crowd of 1100 runners around us gave us both chills. So cool that we were doing this together. Together --- ha, she ran the 5K, passed me by so quickly that she actually mussed my hair, and I managed to finish a mere 22 minutes behind her! (Yeah, I'm really slow and she finished 27th out of over 1100 runners!)

This same wonderful child who came to us at 9 years old with virtually no body awareness, ran like Phoebe on "Friends", and was literally afraid to be in a room by herself, is flying past me. Flying past me right into the future.

The future is almost here, and I am the only one who is not ready.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Teenage Turbulence...

I was at work in the office just the other day, and my mobile 'phone rang...

I hate my mobile going off at work. We have a very open plan environment and everyone gets to hear your business, whether you like it or not.

I always get that deadly slump in my stomach, like when you contemplate that it might be bad news.

I scurried to an empty conference room to take the call, realising that it was Grizz, hopefully giving me news of how his last exam had gone.

"Mum, Mum! I'm ringing to remind you that last night you promised me, remember, that you'd be able to go and buy my tickets for Turbulence tonight?

(Turbulence being some kind of music club venue popular with The Young Ones).

My son knows me very well. I had, of course, completely forgotten, my promises made in wine, and I'd already taken my woefully short lunch break.

Clearing it with my boss, I scuttled out of the office into the city streets and the day's sunshiny warmth. I walked, in new, crippling sandals, the half a mile or so to where I thought the little indie record store was where I could pur-chase said tickets.

The record store was closed, boarded up windows festooned with makeshift signs declaring that it was closed, to re-open soon in a new location. I slip-slopped off, following the map to the new site. I read the sign saying they would be open 1st September...

Damn and Blast. Thwarted. Those were the names of the other reindeers that got away from Santa's sleigh, did you know? Mrs Claus must have had teenagers to torment the living daylights out of the elves...

By now I was sweating - Never a good look for the over-forty, Rubenesque, (Ahem!) female.

I propositioned a nice young man, who looked like he might be one of those world-weary older Teens that haunt Turbulence after dark...

With a mouth full of coronation chicken wrap he pointed blithely up the road that I'd just walked from. I re-traced my steps gingerly, my feet sticking to the glossy new leather... I found two young men emptying the boarded up shop of leftover stock, arguing about how to get their car backed in to the tiny space available, so they could fill the hatchback with their booty.

I asked them if I could still buy tickets... The more authoritative one, directing the driver, looked aghast. "We'll never find them in there!", he said, pointing at disorganised chaos within.

"Where else can I get them then?" I wondered... I must have looked desperate as the Teen driving the car slowly wound down the window. "Breakdown Records", he opined, pointing at the neighbouring street, at a tiny window, three solid Georgian storeys up in the air, next to the Sandwich Shop...

I trotted off, passing the young man who had turned his attention to his sandwich again. He regarded me curiously... I mounted the calf-breakingly steep and narrow stairs at Breakdown Records, wondering if that was my destination too - A breakdown?!

After being observed like some alien life form by the Beautiful Youthful Things within, I was handed two Turbulence tickets by one of that night's DJs, moonlighting by day as a mild-mannered record store assistant...

With that look on his face, I think he was wondering exactly how he'd managed to attract such an older crowd with his dazzling new Drum 'n' Bass set. I was chuckling to myself as I waddled back to work with my prize.

My boss said that I should have let slip that the tickets were for my mother!

The things we do for the love of Teens, and the avoidance of Teen Turbulence!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Dining out on their dreams...

As well as taking stock, I've been looking at the rooms of my house lately. As I contemplate the makeover that I'll finally have the time to do, with Grizz on hand to help (Ha ha! I kid even myself!), while he languishes, possibly job-less, certainly school homework-less, over the summer holidays, waiting for his future to begin...

To College, or Beyond!

And the one thing that I shall be pleased about - as I meander through my troubled mind, fretting about how we're going to afford to pay back his Student Loans in time, pondering whether he'll enjoy Uni life, worrying that he'll not stick at it, and wibbling and wittering endlessly about how he's going to fare on his own - is that finally, I'll be getting my oak Dining Table back to its rightful purpose and place in our lives...

We'll be able to sit at it for evening meals, and it will no longer suffer having homework done upon it, with heavy, ink-stained hand; It shall no longer lie, overburdened with piles of never-read books and endless crap; It will be free of watery cup marks on its surface; It is about to be liberated from over-filled folders, bright reading lamps, and ancient files, and Other Teenage Detritus.

It's mine, all mine!

I'll be able to sit in the soft chocolate brown leather chair, gazing out over my over-grown cottage garden, watching the busy, buzzy bees, perhaps with a glass of chilled Chenin Blanc in my right hand, maybe thumbing through the pages of a favourite novel in the lovely evening light...

That's one thing at least that I can be thankful for, as I look out at the prospect of a semi-Empty Nest!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Greece Is The Word...

I've been taking stock. I'm preparing for the future.


I didn't think it would come around this soon...

The Empty Nest Syndrome.

My baby bird getting ready to take his first, no it's actually his second, flight on his own.

To Xante.

Zakynthos. Greece.

18 Eighteen Year Olds (all male, Goddess help me! Lock up your daughters...) are getting ready to strike out of their own volition on holiday, before the exam results come in in August.

And I shall be taking some time for myself... I'll be the one, rocking quietly, back and forth, with maybe a damp tea-towel on my head in the understairs cupboard for the full fortnight they're away.

What else can I do?

Monday, 28 June 2010

Growing up...

It's been a tough old year this one, in terms of child-rearing, I mean.

What with the 'C' words: Cannabis, Cussing, Cigarettes, 'Can I have some more money for petrol?', 'Can't be arsed to revise!'...

And we've made it through to this, the last exam of my son's school career was on Friday, and he's been out Clubbing all weekend since to Celebrate.

And I feel utterly relieved. A bit flat even after all the drama, the Crises, the Complaints and the Crapilola... Now, we have to wait until August for his results to come through.

I shall have my fingers and toes crossed until then. I'll not bother crossing my eyes for luck, as it makes crossing the roads a little too dicey...

And he has so much high emotion riding on what he wants to do, with two University places waiting for him... (Forgive me for posting so little here, as things have been very fraught... Chaotic, to say the least.)

We had a very low moment a couple of weeks back, and I launched into Good Samaritan Mother Mode, to reel off my personal mantra...

I wanted Grizzles to understand, you see, that it isn't 'the end of it all' if he doesn't quite get the grades he wanted... There are always other options in life, aren't there? And, as much as I'd love him to go to Uni, as I had the luck to do, (and let's face it, the Chance of him getting a decent job in today's Cramped Climate are pretty slender), but his lovely life won't end if he doesn't enter the hallowed Ivory Towers of Academia.

We will Cope. We will Continue to support his Choices. Help him into his future. Whatever that bright future will be...

And so, we averted that Crisis within him. We left with him feeling a little more hopeful, more optimistic, about things... At least temporarily...

I've been growing leeks, did you know?

Show-leeks. Prize leeks. For our local pub's Leek Club Competition... You would not believe how Competitive people can be. I'm only doing it for a laugh - The Craic, as it were - so it's great fun for me...

It's been particularly engrossing, as I plant and replant little baby leeks - They're called sets, I believe... The wonderfully wise and ancient old leek grower who sold me the leeks, laughed indulgently when I called them 'my Baby Leeks'...

So, on Thursday evening I was on duty again, standing with my bare feet planted on the warm ground of my little patio, making sure that my 16 thriving babies were getting enough water, deluging the marshy creatures generously with the garden hose. Water running silver in the clear shafts of evening light.

And I glimpsed my Grizz through the window, sitting at his full 6ft 5" length over most of the wide sofa, dwarfing the living room, squinting at the telly... The Simpsons must have been on.

And I glanced at the growing leeks, and I looked back at him. And I blushed, full of Mother's Pride and Poetry at how golden, how beautiful, how big, he has turned out. This man-child of mine, on the threshold of another new beginning in his life.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Take a page from my book...

I'm writing this post with a mixture of melancholy and excitement.
I say melancholy because as some of you will know from my FFF blog and understand where l am at present. For those that do not, suffice it to say that I am now a single mum, with a 15 yr old son at home with me and my 18yr old daughter who is now living in the home l vacated in March after my husband ended our marriage and our daughter 'chose' Dad. A double whammy. Whack!

This melancholy has peered out at me, as the last day of school approaches and reminds me of how fast it all passes. Tomorrow is the last day of exams for both my daughter and my son. So for my big girl this will also be the last day of school EVER! She is taking a gap year with the hope and expectation that she gets the grades to take up her offered places at one of her top choices; Northumbria or Dundee. She wants to be a Barrister. She will always aim high. Reach out for the moon l've told her, even though she may have to settle for the stars! I am excited for both of them and realise that they have the rest of their lives yet to live. As do I!
This would be so much more less of a big deal for me if she were still living with me, so all the preamble and fretting were a ridiculous waste of time, given that she has gone from me 18 months before Uni starts!

My son has his last exam tomorrow AND his year 11 Prom in the evening (Form V to you and I). It will also be his last day of school. He plans to enter the 6th form college in September.

I remember last year l started fretting a little about the impending empty nest syndrome, though realistically it was  2 years or more away. I write this post in the hope that one reader will listen and enjoy the time shared with their beloveds, before uni beckons. That he/she will breathe deeply of the well of a their family and count your chickens or indeed chicks! They have hatched and we have set them on their paths. In my case my daughter was wrought from my tentative grasp when she decided it was in her best interests to stay with her Dad.  I berate myself for wasting energy and tears on thoughts of her spreading her wings, far before l needed to. There is no point in crying over spilt milk, l am trying to find my way and move on and up. I'm sorry if this post is too miserable, but l do want to share in the hope that others may gain from my sadness.

I really mean it!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Lettuce Prey

By Vegemitevix

There’s no asking. None of it. No ‘please may I’.
Vegemitevix scares away hungry teens
 There is only pilfering on unsuspecting prey.
 From my spot on the couch in the lounge I can hear footsteps in the kitchen.
Cupboards open. A tap is turned.
I wait expectantly. Any moment now.
I could recognise those movements anywhere. It’s 14 yr old Dark Princess. Isn’t strange how you get to know which of your children it is by their movements, and their habits.
I sip my coffee slowly. Am I smiling?
A little.
The door to the fridge has opened. Yet within minutes it’s shut.
I try to remain quiet in the lounge. I struggle against inhaling my coffee through giggling.
The fridge door opens again. AND SHUTS.
”That can’t be right,’ she’s thinking. I can almost see the perplexed look on her face.
But she is her mother’s daughter. Determined. Focussed. Hungry.
Nonchalently I walk into the kitchen. Dark Princess is at the fridge door.

‘Go on. Open it. Dare ya’ I think to myself smiling.
‘You know you want to’.
 And she does. She opens the fridge door, but within seconds she’s whimpering. Her hands clasped firmly across her ears.
 ‘Can you hear it? What is it?’ She wails.
I can’t hear anything. I’m too old to hear it.
 ‘Nup. Don’t know what you’re going on about’.

She throws a sulky pout, slams the fridge door shut and storms out. Making sure she has left the area I sneak over to the fridge and open the door. I can’t hear anything high-pitched and annoying. ‘Where did he put it?’ I look through the top shelf behind the milk, up behind the eggs, and then finally I open the vegetable drawer containing an old shrivelled red pepper and a bag of lettuce leaves.

I’m guessing my Englishman has put it where the kids would never look. In the vege drawer. Sure enough I reach into the bag of lettuce leaves and pull out the little electronic device he’s made for me.
It’s a mosquito. It emits a high pitched sound that drives grazing teenagers nuts. Adults can’t hear it. Teenagers will eat their own elbows to get away from it.

Every Mum of teenagers should have one! I reccommend you hide it in the lettuce.
There’ll never look there!

First published on my blog: 

Image Flickr CC:

Monday, 14 June 2010

He Ain't Heavy...

Conversation between Man-Child (14 and 6'3") and 7 year old brother (very tall, but a wee boy):

14 - Dude, Pull your pants  (shorts) down.

7 - Why? What's wrong?

14 - You look like a dork. They're not supposed to be up around your armpits.

7 - And your's aren't supposed to be under your butt. Dude - Pull YOUR pants UP.

14 - But you're not supposed to see your knees.
(At which point I want to rush in and point out that every mother wants to see her little boy's knees in shorts for as long as she possibly can.)

7 - The world isn't supposed to see your boxers  either.

14 - Mom- tell him he looks stupid. His shorts are pulled up way too high.

7 - Mom - tell him no one wants to see his boxers.

ME - OK, that's enough. Both of you, I want to see your shorts where they should be.

(Neither of them change the arrangement of their shorts, but the threat of mom interfering with their appearance is enough to stop the arguing.)

Oy, oy, oy.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Some Quiet Finally!

Have you ever noticed that teenage girls just don't shut up?

My 13 year old daughter has been home from school for less than 2 hours and I have a big hole in my head. She's been singing and yapping at 90 miles an hour. She was showing no signs of stopping.

Normally that would be fine, but I have a headache and all I have been hearing is non stop yakkety yakkety yak yak.... (Felt like a pounding drill.)

Now, I finally have some quiet.
*Big deep breath and sigh of relief.*

*Don't worry, I am not that mean of a mother. I gave her 5 shekels for letting me take that picture.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Land of the Giants

This is a tall household. My husband is 6'4" so I sort of knew what I was getting myself into. (I'm 5'7", so not particularly tall.)

My kids are huge. They were fairly big babies but by the time they were two, they were inches taller than their friends.

The 17 year old daughter is 5'8" and seems to have stopped growing, but has been that height for several years, putting her in the "tall" category for a while there.  The just-turned 7 year old is often taken for a 10 year old, despite the fact that his front teeth are all missing, in true 6-7 year old fashion.  He is the 2nd tallest in his class and one of the youngest.

But it's the 14 year old man-child who is the real shocker. He's 6'3", takes a size 14 shoe and has hands like dinner plates. He's been shaving for almost a year now and he sounds like his dad.  Sometimes it's hard as people take him for an 18 year old, although when the older girls hit on him he's not complaining!

Yesterday we were watching him playing baseball. The other team's coach turned around and said loudly, but to no one in particular, "How old is that kid?'

"Oh, here we go again", I thought. "They're going to ask to see his birth certificate and surprisingly, I'm not carrying it." (He is challenged almost every year so I should know by now.)

To the amusement of everyone however, a random dad said "Not sure, but he has six tattoos and he drove himself here! He's taking me for a drink after the game!"


Tuesday, 25 May 2010

And My Daughter Makes It Three

Three what you are asking?

Three teenagers under one roof. They were just babies and toddlers yesterday.


As of this morning I am now the terrified proud mother of three teenagers. Two boys and one girl. I think I am in for some trouble.

That is if this teenage girl is anything at all like her mother. Early signs have been showing that she can put her grey haired mother to shame. Can I feel sorry for myself yet? Is this the same little girl who had a horrible case of separation anxiety? One that lasted ummmm... about 13 years? Nursery teachers with 30 years experience had to call in a psychologist to figure out how to deal with her.

Is this the same little girl who was petrified of dogs? The same girl who finally after many years can be in the same room as them.

Is this the little girl who so didn't want to stick out that she dressed in a way that made sure she stuck out like a sore thumb? Is this the same little girl who was petrified of clowns? Oh my mistake, is still deathly afraid of clowns.

Is this the little girl who used to ham it up in front of the cameras? The same little girl who I now have more pictures of with her hand in front of her face or the back of the her head then I do of her smile?

Is this the little girl with beautiful long thick brownish blonde hair that her mother sees loose only about once a year (if I am lucky)? The hair she now wears all day and all night in a ponytail.

Is this the little girl who didn't want a training bra and then refused to take it off even at nighttime?

Is this the little girl who used to panic at a little spot of dirt or wetness on her clothing, a panic that promted umpteen clothing changes a day? The same girl who now I have to fight to get any of her clothing into the wash.

Is this the girl who was so tomboyish that she never had any female friends? The same girl who now at times blushes if you bring up the right boy's name.

Is this the same girl who was never interested in any girly talk? The girl who insisted she needed to start removing her leg hair a few months ago?

The girl who wanted an epilady desperately and who desperately wanted clean shaven legs. The same girl who then had to be held down by her father while her mother tortured helped her with the epilady. Gosh that scene sooo should have been videotaped. Don't know whether we would have won the best or the worst parent of the year award for that.
Little girls grow up way too fast. Where the heck have the past 13 years gone? It was only 27 a few years ago that I was thirteen and torturing my own mother. Time flies. Next thing I know she will be walking down the aisle or having kids of her own. But for today on her thirteenth birthday, she is just a teenager.
Happy 13th birthday angel. (That's the backwards way of saying devil child in our house, so angel has been her name since she was a tiny little one.)

How bad can it be to have another teenager in the house? After all in three more months, one of my teens won't be one anymore. (Oh gosh that made me cry. I am old!)
Tell me I will make it. (That is if my daughter doesn't find this post before she is a mother herself, because she may kill me. Oh well, mothers' prerogative to shame their young. No?)

Sunday, 23 May 2010


Give me the rollercoaster ride, bungy jump or icy ski slope any day. Never before have I experienced such extreme fear. I have just been on a ride more terrifying than other any death defying journey of my life. My heart was literally in my mouth, my palms were sweating, even my feet were sweating so much that when I finally got out I kept slipping off my flip flops..

Being a passenger in my newly qualified 17 year old boy racer's car is right up there with any other heart in the mouth rides I have ever done and I nearly had a heart attack. I tried SO hard to be cool and not be my mother who sits in the passenger seat with me even now, pinned to the back of the seat with a fear of god look on her face and her foot constantly pressing on an imaginary brake, emitting sharp intakes of breath every 10 seconds until I want to drive on the pavement just to annoy her.

It is not natural for me to relax when the product of my own loins has taken my life into his hands. It is a constant source of amazement to me that my children are capable of doing anything on their own, without me. Least of all when I briefly considered whether he should show me due respect by turning the thumping, vibrating, sweary lyric'd music down and by not jolting the car until I felt car sick and by not speeding up at inappropriate moments. I kept having to duck down in order to avoid the disapproving looks of other drivers and pedestrians because the music was so unbearably loud. At one point when we stopped next to some people having a civilized meal by the side of the road I had to apologise by telling them it was my son that was driving and that I had been kidnapped - but I don't think they could hear me.

Needless to say, I am officially turning into my mother. I tried to turn the music down twice, I audibly gasped twice and I commented on the fact that he hadn't looked or used his indicator several times until he told me to "shut up" and even worse was that my daughter kept pointing out that in her opinion he was a much better driver than me.

Thursday, 20 May 2010


My gorgeous 17 year old is off on study leave as from today.....which means, that bar a few exams here and there he is about to embark on the longest summer holiday ever. It's not fair.

He's been revising quite hard. I think. Although quite honestly it is hard to tell. He completely bogged up his mocks. Something happens in between him waking up late, eating, sleeping on the sofa, being a little bit loud and hyper (mainly as a result of recuperating from a shoulder operation and not being able to do any sport), going out with friends - I think it might be some revision; he goes quiet anyway and stares at incomprehensible bits of paper. But I can't be sure. There is no point in asking him because he either mumbles something unintelligible or shouts "OF COURSE I'M WORKING STOP HASSLING ME. ANYWAY, WHAT'S THE POINT OF IT ALL - WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?? WHY BOTHER?? I MEAN LOADS OF PEOPLE GET REALLY GOOD JOBS WHO GOT REALLY SHIT RESULTS LIKE, UM, ....YOU FOR EXAMPLE".

My job just seems to be to feed and water him and...well, thats it actually. Nothing else. Conversation doesn't really work. He came down wearing a new T-shirt the other day saying 'ALL MY EX'S ARE MARRIED" and although I tried to engage him in a discussion about what it meant, he claimed not to understand it himself. Frankly, I think it would look better on me.

He won "Manager's Player of The Year" at his football presentation night on Sunday evening. I was so proud. He's been playing in the same team for 10 years now and 7 out of the original 9 players are still together. One of the players has played over 250 games for the team. It's just lovely - they are such a close bunch of boys. They are all huge now. Secretly I was also proud of the fact that I got a special mention for helping them with their stretching and the manager awarded me "best backside award", although if he was comparing my arse to those teenage boys then I didn't have much competition - not quite so hairy at least, I imagine.

Yesterday though, I had one of those "AAAAGH" moments with him. My daughter suddenly shouted for me to come up to her room. "Look outside my window" she said. "There's a used condom on the roof" and sure enough she was right ("how does SHE know what a used condom looks like" I was thinking to myself). It's a flat roof that you can jump down on to and I therefore assumed that a couple had climbed out of her window during one of his infamous parties.

I had a friend in the garden wondering what we were doing peering out of the window. So I pointed to the offending article and mouthed the words "USED CONDOM" several times, but she couldn't understand what I was saying. After several attempts my daughter shouted at the top of her voice for all the neighbours to hear: "SHE SAYS WE'VE GOT A USED CONDOM ON OUR ROOF"

So I then instructed my son to climb out and get it amongst lots of "THAT IS COMPLETELY REVOLTING. WHO ON EARTH WAS THAT? I CAN'T BELIEVE IT BLA BLA BLA" and all he said was "mum, I have no idea who it was but it's a really good idea, I'm going to try it".

Of course my friend later pointed out that I was being ridiculous. Who in their right mind would creep into an uninhabited girly bedroom with a lovely squishy girly bed and climb out the window to have sex. Clearly they just chucked the incriminating evidence out of the window.

I can't tell my daughter that though as she would be horrified.

Sometimes I really don't like being a parent.

NO MORE PARTIES is the answer I think.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Exam Technique

Son aged 16 is on the cusp of glory, or ignominy.

Either or!

His GCSE exams in a week or so have become the focal point for our entire household. Last weekend we spent the entire weekend ensuring that Son had a working torch. His Stepfather a Senior Design Electronics Engineer beavered away all weekend making sure that his chip was programmed, whilst Son sat in the school ITC lab doing the same.

I played taxi driver and chief worrier.

Finally Son came home on Sunday with a torch that works, or is close enough for government work! Hubby relaxed, secure in the knowledge that he too could pass GCSE Electronics, should he want to give it a go! I was just relieved that the household returned to an assemblance of normality.

As normal as it can be given the circumstances.

What with the studying, and swotting, and studiously avoiding revising!

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink - or devour textbooks! I've been applying moral support, sticks and carrots, and a little hard won knowledge on how to be an exam success. I've dished out helpful advice on diet, and getting enough sleep and how to be focussed.

Harder than training a horse, or a puppy I reckon! But he's a very smart kid and like smart kids around the world just takes for granted that he'll have the knowledge to hand when he needs it. He hasn't yet learnt that in the stressful environment of exams, that easy knowledge can play truant.

I'm toeing that fine line between being too pushy and not involved enough, I think. So, I was more than a little horrified to hear the following discussion between Son and his teacher, about exam technique!

'But you did well on the last test didn't you?' Teacher enquires whilst I look on.

'I haven't got the results back yet.. yeah... um' Son is an A student it should be ok.

'But that was a couple of weeks ago?'

Yeah, but Sir hasn't marked them yet. I did all the paper and everything, but..'

'But?' Teach and I ask together.

'I forgot to put my name on the paper, so it's in Sir's in-tray with the other un-named ones'.

Bam, so there goes success out the window!

Guess who's going to be going over and over exam technique for the next week, with my talented Son? Any other fellow Mum or Dad sufferers? 

Vegemitevix writes about her adventures parenting two teens and a tweenie as an expat Kiwi Mum now living in her second marriage in a rural Hampshire hamlet.

Flickr: phi1317