Friday, 31 October 2008

Shiver me teenagers

The Teenager is dressing up as a pirate for Halloween. She tells me Hyper Value have some plastic swords for 99p and she wants to know if I have a bandanna she can borrow. I tell her I do not, on account of the fact it is no longer 1989.

''I'm going to wreck havoc!'' she declares while putting a jacket potato in the oven.
''What does that mean exactly?'' I ask
''I don't know. Just havoc.''
"Define havoc?''
''Just havoc and stuff.''
''I don't like the sound of havoc.''
''Chill out mother.''
''Will you be egging people's houses?'
''No. I'm not 10.''

Indeed. She was still cute when she was 10.

Later that week while we are driving to school she tells me:
''I am not wrecking havoc anymore on Halloween.''
''I am pleased to hear it.''
''It's too cold to wreck havoc.''

Before arriving home on Halloween I take a trip to Iceland where anything with sugar and E numbers is always on offer. I grab three pack of sweets for the Trick or Treaters and call The Teenager to see what she wants for dinner.

''Don't worry about me, I'm at my friend's house.''
''Do you mind If I sleepover?''
''But I was getting scary treats.'' I say, while putting down a pack of Cadbury's Ghoulish Mini Rolls.
''Sorry Mum. Will you be ok on your own?

I do fake crying over the fish finger freezer.

''Let's spend Sunday together.'' she offers.
I sense guilt. I capitalise.
''I feel bad now'' she offers with something that sounds like sincerity.

Not bad enough to come home though.

So I am all on my scary lonesome at Halloween with only spooky movies and a big bowl of sweets for company. Then the Trick or Treaters start. A four year old witch in a spangly costume is on my doorstep.

''Owww you're very scary!' I kneel down to tell her green painted face
''That's because I'm a witch.'' she replies deadpan. I text Amber Why aren't you cute anymore?

Later that night Tipi Hedron is fighting off some seagulls while trapped in a phone box. The Trick or Treaters are coming thick and fast so I squirrel away some lovehearts. An hour and three fat pre pubescent witches later the kids are getting less cute and the sweets are running low. I turn off the lights and vow not to answer the door anymore.

At some point I fall asleep on the sofa and dream The Teenager is making me walk the plank. I wake up to a text from Amber saying Don't hate me I love you. We'll spend Sunday together! Oh god. Why is she being so nice? What has she done? As Tipi dodges some black crows I fear the worse.

I fall back asleep and have a nightmare The Teenager and me hearties are holding up the local Spar for blue WKD and Lambert and Butlers. I wake up to another text from The Teenager

Love you Mum

The clocks hits midnight and I feel a shiver run down my spine, but It's not the fear of ghosts, demented birds or even plunderers of the high seas.

Truly there is nothing more terrifying at Halloween or any other time than your Teenager being nice to you.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

It's the little things

Don't sweat the small stuff. That's what all the teenage parenting manuals tell you. There are whole chapters on why you should only try and tackle the big stuff, like crack addiction and pregnancy. I make a resolution to try and not sweat the small stuff .

I fail at the first hurdle when I come home late from work to see The Teenager hasn't done the dishes for the third day running because of more pressing concerns like watching E4.

''Dishes!'' I scream.
''In a minute.''
''No. Now!''
''Mother. I am watching Desperate Housewives.''
''Dishes! Now! Now! Now!''
''Jeez-us. You need to caaaaaalm down.''
''Do it now! Or you're grounded.''
''I am grounded for not doing the dishes? Seriously? You're a freak. You need to chill.''

I deny I need to chill even though I know I do and the next day I am attempting to smile through gritted teeth when half the contents of my make-up bag has gone missing again. I spend the day with colleagues asking;

''Are you feeling o.k.?''
''Yes. I just don't have much make-up on.''

When I get home that night I see if it is possible to bite my lip when I see The Teenager has left another lump of hard chewing gum on the arm of the leather sofa. She tells me she is saving it for later.

''Who are you? I roar ''Marmalade Atkins?''
''I don't know who the hell you're talking about Mother.''

Later that week I am attempting to avoid exorcist style head rolls when she uses all the bath towels and I have to stomp naked and dripping wet into the pit she calls a bedroom to discover them damp and smelling like old nannas.

I go back to the teenage parenting manual to see if there is a chapter on wet towels but there isn't so I assume they come under 'small stuff'. The teenager comes into the room and I shove the book under a cushion and flip on the TV. She narrows her eyes at me and snorts.

''I know what you're reading.''
''Not reading,'' I mumble trying to look engrossed ''watching tele.''

She raises an eyebrow at me as the SKY customer channel is informing me how to use the red button on my remote.

''Mum, the book is crap. I read it.''

Dammit! Leaving a teenage parenting manual lying around is a bit like running a highlighter pen over the good bits of a spy document and sending it recorded delivery to the enemy.

''Mother,'' she begins gently ''why are you wasting your time reading that? You can't generalise teenagers. We are all individuals and every situation's different.''

I try to speak but my lips won't move. While I was busy trying not to sweat the small stuff, I missed some big stuff, like my teenager growing up a little bit more

Just like wet towels, there is no chapter for that.