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?