As the mother of a meanager I live a life devoid of physical affection.
It's not just the public displays of affection though, it's the private ones too. Even in the safe haven of four walls, hugs are a rare commodity. Like this week when I am leaving to work in London.
I am struggling down the stairs and into the hallway with a vanity case, 3 holdalls and a suit bag (I'm driving, who needs to pack light?). The teenager's flopped on the sofa watching Family Guy.
''I'm Going now!''
''Grandma's picking you up later''
''Yeah I know. You said''
''So bye then?''
''I'm going now''
''For nearly a week''
''Yeah. Ok. Bye''
''As in won't be back till Friday. Late Friday''
The Teenager sighs heavily and makes an exaggerated gesture of pausing the SKY+
''Ok. Mother. Goodbye. Love you''
''I wasn't looking for a 'love you'. I was looking for a hug''
''I'm watching Family Guy''
''And that stops you hugging me how?''
''For god's sake Mother. Do I have to?''
''Yes'' I whimper and move in for my meagre dose of forced affection. I sit beside her and she raises her eyes to the ceiling and flops a flaccid arm around my shoulder and pats limply. At the same time she continues to watch Family Guy. Then she starts drumming her fingers impatiently on my shoulder.
''Ok. forget it, '' I say pulling away abruptly ''That was rubbish'' and then I stomp out of the door. Then I remember my vanity case, 3 holdalls and suit bag and I stomp back in. And then back out again.
I call The Teenager every day at my mother's to see what is going on. Which turns out to be nothing. There is nothing apparently going on for the entire 5 days I am gone. Nothing at all. Nada.
My Mum tells a different story. In fact she tells me several. They mainly revolve around The Teenager's claims that bedtime on a school night is midnight and lunch money is £5 a day.
I tell The Teenager I miss her every day. She does not say the same back. I figure she's too busy doing nothing to miss me.
When I come home on Friday night she has cleaned the entire house without being asked. I wonder if she's pregnant or on crack.
''So did you miss me?'' I ask
''Well, not really, but then I woke up today and I was like, yeah, I do miss my Mum a bit''
''Awww, so it took you nearly a week but you missed me!''
''Only a bit''
''But you did miss me?
''I said it didn't I?''
''Ha ha! You did! So can I get a hug and a kiss?''
"Not both. One or the other''
I suggest to The Teenager that I could start paying for hugs. She looks thoughtful, pauses and then asks...