Sunday, 30 December 2007

Teenage schooldaze

The week before Christmas begins with one of the regular calls from The Teenager's form tutor from Chav Towers. Let's call him, for argument's sake 'Mr C'.

After last week's telephone conversation where he outlined 'a catalogue' of incidents' (including stealing chalk during a fire drill) now it seems things have improved.

''The improvement is usually temporary'' I say. At least I would say this if Mr C would only stop talking over me at 95 decibels. I manage to get the phrase 'hi jinks' in and would like to add 'tomfoolery' but again I am out-talked.

By midweek I find myself in Marks and Spencers having an argument with The Teenager about staying off school for Eid. She doesn't want to go the next day because she claims 'noooooobody' will be there.

''But you are not Muslim-so why do you need to take a Muslim festival off?''
''I am a quarter Arab!''
''That's irrelevant. That quarter of you-or any other quarters are not muslim.''

The teenager then whines that Muslims get to take Christmas off, so why not the other way around? This flummoxes me somewhat and I have become slightly distracted by the chocolate biscuit tasting in the food-hall so I came back with the pathetically weak 'But you are not a Christian'. Cue much eye rolling from The Teenager. Her contempt for my lack of sharp debate is apparent in her eyes.

The next morning she texts me from Chav Towers to say there are only 5 children in her class-including her. This is four more than she claimed would be there, so I feel I have won the argument.

On Thursday night The Teenager spends hours parading around in outfits based around things I own. She settles on my jumper dress. The occasion is the last day of school and non-uniform. This is something of a relief as it saves me from the usual 11.p.m polo shirt washing and drying trauma.

The next morning when I attempting to have a glorious lie in on my day off she sets her alarm for 6.30 am. so she can get ready. At 8.20 a.m. after stealing my tongs, Urban Outfitters hair clips, Rimmel eyeliner and new black heels from Office she stomps into my bedroom for the 18th time that morning, demanding a note.

''What for now?'' cry wearily.
''So I can leave at lunchtime.''
''Coswearebeingletoutat2buteveryone'sleavingat12butyouneedanoteso can you just write one-yeah?''

I pen a festive letter.

To whom it may concern.

I understand that 'everybody' is being let home early today for Christmas

If it is appropriate to do so, could you please let my daughter leave too?

Festive greetings!

Miss Smith

''Mum! Why are you writing it like that? So sarcastically? What is the matter with you? For god's sake. They won't let me out!''

And with that she spins on my heels and I note how much better my jumper dress looks on her.

Later that day I am feeling suitably festive doing a bit of pressie wrapping when my mobile rings. It's The Teenager.

''Hi darling! Have you finished! Woooo hoooo! Two weeks off!''
''No! They won't let me out. It's all your fault! Why did you have to write that note? Why couldn't you just write a normal note? What is wrong with you?''
''Let me speak to them on the phone''
''NO! They say they need a note. And your note is inferior''
''They actually called my note inferior?'

''Yes. Can't you just tell the school secretary I have to go to a wedding or something?'
''A wedding?! What? No!'' (I imagine the subsequent phone call with 'Mr C' where the deception is discovered and I am forced to describe weddinggate as a 'simple white lie')
''Whhhhhhhiiiiiiieeeeeee?????? This is all your fault! For god's sake!''
''Don't speak to me like that! You can stay in school, they're bloody welcome to you!''

I come off the phone and try to work out which of The Teenager's Christmas gifts I have receipts for and can return but one thing is bothering me more. Inferior note writing? I take offence.

I have been a purveyor of fine teacher's notes since the age of the 11. Teacher's note writing I give myself an A+. Parenting D-.

Must try harder.