Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Teen Daughter? Some novel advice -

Pop over to my piece at In the Powder Room for a new and novel idea on how to keep our teen daughters chaste.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Born Yesterday

Despite this being the title of one of my favourite Phillip Larkin poems*, I won't be waxing poetic in this post. It's more in the vein of "I wasn't born yesterday".

The Man-Child (otherwise known as Mr. Minimal) is one of those kids who puts 110% into anything that interests him, and 20% into anything classed as boring, pointless or tedious. (That would be most things academic.)

With a May 19th deadline looming, I finally got him and the Queenager to a chamber orchestra performance they are required to attend as part of being in the High School orchestra. They also have to write a brief critique of it. Once a term. Hardly a killer really.  I had already warned them both that a "collaborative" paper wouldn't pass muster as their teacher had already expressed interest in reading their different viewpoints.

Of course, the Man-Child couldn't find the guidelines (required elements) so I suggested he take last term's paper and copy the format. What I didn't say was cut and paste the opening sentence, which the teacher had highlighted in red because it didn't make sense the first time round. He had also simply replaced words with other words for the sake of expedience. Except that the new words rendered the paper utter rubbish, and I told him so. I mean, "I was impressed with the way the symphony looked"?? Come on. First of all it was a chamber orchestra and not a symphony orchestra; second, only one of the four pieces was from a symphony; and third, a symphony is a piece of music, not a bloody shop window!

Some of the sentences didn't seem to have verbs, or if they did, they were to be found right at the end of the sentence, Latin style. And, he kept referring to "the songs". I'm sorry, did I fall asleep in the middle? I don't remember a single voice being raised in song.

At least he had the grace to laugh when I handed the paper back to him while calling it "Bloody rubbish".

Nice try son.

Expat Mum

*Born Yesterday
Tightly-folded bud,
I have wished you something
None of the others would:
Not the usual stuff
About being beautiful,
Or running off a spring
Of innocence and love -
They will all wish you that,
And should it prove possible,
Well, you’re a lucky girl.

But if it shouldn’t, then
May you be ordinary;
Have, like other women,
An average of talents:
Not ugly, not good-looking,
Nothing uncustomary
To pull you off your balance,
That, unworkable itself,
Stops all the rest from working.
In fact, may you be dull -
If that is what a skilled,
Vigilant, flexible,
Unemphasised, enthralled
Catching of happiness is called.

(This was written as a christening ode to Sally Amis, daughter of Kinglsey Amis)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Conversations I wish I'd Never Started

I've posted two conversations with my 15 year old son on my own blog, Mum's Gone to,  but felt the Mad Manic Mamas might appreciate them and sympathise with me. The inability of my addled, middle-aged brain to connect with the sharp, intolerance of youth.

Conversation One

Me: I see there's that famous bloke coming to town to talk to the Science Society at your school.
Son: What famous bloke?
Me: The one who used to do funny science things
Son: Who?
Me: He's the father of erm, that woman
Son: What woman?
Me: The one who's on the radio
Son: Who?
Me: She's married to a DJ
Son: Vernon Kay?
Me: No, no, a proper DJ, does the spinning things with records
Son: Calvin Harris?
Me: No, an older one
Son: Fat Boy Slim?
Me: YES, that's the one!
Son: What's her name then?
Me: .......Zoe!
Son: Zoe who?
Me: Ball! Zoe Ball.
Son: So it's her father who's coming to Spalding
Me: Yes, his name's something Ball.
Son: Michael?
Me: No, he's the singer
Son: Okay, Mr Ball, let's just call him John.
Me: That's it! Johnny Ball! He's coming. Do you want to go and see him?
Son: Nah!

Conversation Two

Me: I just heard a good song this morning from Radio One's Big Weekend
Son: What was it?
Me: I can't remember.
Son: Who was it by?
Me: The Foo Fighters.
Son: Was it Everlong?
Me: No idea.
Son: Well, how did the song go?
Me: I can't remember now.
Son: What, nothing at all?
Me: No. Say a few more of theirs.
Son: Pretender? Best of You?
Me: Doesn't ring a bell. Actually it might have been Chasing Status?
Son: Chase AND Status
Me: That's what I said! What do they sing?
Son: Let You Go? Blind Faith?
Me: Oh I don't know.
Son: Mum, you're really annoying. Try and think.
Me: I've got it! It went "I've got a feeling...oooh....oooh.....that tonight's gonna be a good night"
Son: That's the Black Eyed Peas.

Trish x

Sunday, 8 May 2011

"You with your Mother's Pride and Poetry...!

My word, it's been a little quiet around here lately... Where is everyone?!

I've been less than chatty here as I haven't had a lot to write about. As you know, my son, Grizzler, is away at University. It's only about 20 miles from home so I still manage (if he doesn't outrun me first) to get my paws on him for a cuddle, or to steal a begrudging kiss of his cheek, about every couple of weeks. For the rest of the time, he's living relatively independently, he hasn't starved, and he's managing to get by and to get himself out of bed to lectures on time for the most part. Hip, hip, hooray!

I know when I first started writing here at Mad, Manic, Mamas, when Sara and I decided to launch a blog to help parents of struggling teens, (or should that be struggling parents of teens?), I wanted mainly to vent at how tough I felt it had all become.

...I wanted to feel less isolated in coping with issues presented by living with teenagers; Like how difficult it was coping with the Teen Tantrums, which had turned out to be far worse than Toddler Tantrums.

Those years when you worried endlessly about what was ailing them, because they had no voice, only to find yourself years later, roundly berated and shouted out, sometimes on a daily basis because a sock couldn't be found or a hoodie wasn't dry enough to wear...

And people kept on saying that things would improve. That, in time, the relationship between Mother and Son would be restored.

And that day - those days - finally came.

Distance has given us absence, and indeed fondness. He tells me that he loves me once again. He texts me with the treasured words that I'll never delete them from my 'phone.

I never stopped telling him I loved him, even when I wondered where my sweet boy had gone.

I won't say that it's all sweetness and light.

When he comes home from Uni to stay for a while, sometimes he slips back into familiar territory, crying to be fed every half hour like a helpless baby bird, when I know he is more than capable of fending for himself. He's six-feet-five, for god's sake!

And sometimes I find myself back in the old Drama Triangle: Victim, Rescuer, sometimes Persecutor...

I feel guilt that I am not a good mother, when I know I should be patting myself on the back for being a 'good-enough' mother.

We all should, if we have succeeded in raising adaptable, confident, communicative kids who can thrive all by themselves in the outside worlds.

I wrote these words a few months ago on my own blog (when I was writing about tattoos, when he'd come back from a school trip with an ear-ring like Captain Jack Sparrow!), and they brought me here today:

"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 my 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 looked away in fact, just when we were exhausted from the day's 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 then I go and wibble on about tattoos, changing the subject until I am able to cope with the temporal nature of love, life and art again..."

And B R E A T H E!

The title of this post comes from one of my favourite songs by the Eurythmics...

It's Fhina, by the way!