Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Lion Teen...

The Teenager is like a lioness.
She stalks through life proud, strong and fearless. She protects her teenage domain as if it were a pack of her own precious cubs. At all times she is ready to pounce and attack anyone that threatens her plans. Including me. Especially me.

It is Friday night and yet again I haven't noticed her intention to leave our lair until she is one paw out of the door.

''Woah, woah, woooooooah. Hold it right there Missy"
She freezes, one hand on the door handle, turns around and sighs loudly while rolling her eyes back theatrically.

I am in the kitchen making dinner and I wave a chopping knife back and forth as I 'Woah, woah woooooooah'. This is classic teenage game plan; run out of the door when a parent is busy doing something else. I have 'Woah, woah, wooooooah-ed" while hoovering, gardening, on the phone or in the bath.

''Yes? Mother."
''Uh. Where are you going?"
''To the cinema"
"Who with?''
"The Boy"
"What are you going to see?"
"And what time are you coming back?''

I shouldn't ask this. This implies there is a choice, when there is not. It's 10p.m. on a school night. Non negotiable.

''Listen,''she says with a tone you might use if addressing a retarded gerbil ''we need to talk''
''Excuse me?'' I say
''We need to talk. About this ten o' clock thing''

It is one of those moments where I tip between pissing myself with laughter and remembering to present a stern parenting front. My brain teeters. I go for the latter reminded myself I am 34 and the grown-up.

''Uh. We do NOT''...and then I add, for extra authority ''Young Lady".
''I am 15 next week"
She says the 15 bit as If 15 is the oldest age in the world. As if reaching 15 earns you a place in the Guinness book of records.
''And?" I shrug
"1o o clock Mother? Really?"
"Uh, yes! Really"
''Ridiculous'' she shakes her head sorrowfully to highlight the injustice.
''Listen. If you don't like it, we'll make it 9.30!"
"That doesn't make any sense"
''10 o clock is late enough on a school night. End of"

She huffs and puffs and blows out of the house. The 'End of' bit is stolen from my own Mum. It is a retro piece of parenting rhetoric and it works a treat. Sometimes you have to repeat it several times before a teenager understands you mean business. On this occasion it's worked first time. End of.

Later that night and 10 p.m. comes and goes and The Teenager is not home. I call her. No answer. I call again. No answer. I call her best friend, it goes straight to voicemail. I text her. By 10. 30p.m. the fury will have been replaced by fear, by 10.35 p.m. I will be jumping in the car in my xmas pyjamas driving around the mean streets of Cardiff in search of her.

Instead, she stomps in a 10.15 p.m. eyes wet with tears.

''Don't have a go'' She heads straight into the kitchen and for the chocolate jar. Uh oh. Boy trouble. I tread carefully-by saying nothing. She speaks first.

''Boys are twats"

I get up and throw my arms around. This is my instinctive reaction and for a split second I forget her aversion to any kind of maternal physical affection. To my surprise though, she accepts my hug and even lets me kiss her cheek. This must be bad. As she demolishes two Rocky Caramel bars I wait till I speak, knowing that what I say next is crucial.

''Yes, sweetie. Boys are twats"

She laughs and I hug her again. Now I am the Lioness and she is my cub and I would kill anyone that hurt her.

Especially boys.


Sunday, 1 March 2009

Job for the girl...

Chav Towers are making The Teenager do a fortnight's work experience.

I suggest that waking up at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning and questioning your entire existence might give a more accurate picture of what it's like to have a job. She says that won't fill two weeks.

My first thought is to arrange something at the Bonkers Bureaucracy Corporation.

''NO. WAY.'' she yells ''I am NOT going where you work''
"Uh why not?"
''Why do you think? And why do you want me to be a journalist like you?''
''I don't!''
''You do. You're always going on about it''
''I am not always going on about it. I have mentioned it a few times''
''I don't want to be a journalist.
''Why not?''
''Well you're always skint for a start''
''Ok well what about the costume department'?'
''You want to work in fashion''
''It's just boring where you work''
''Boring?'' I pause for dramatic effect... ''Boring? It's the media, how can it be boring?''

The Teenager just rolls her eyes while I am annoyed that whatever I do leaves her unimpressed. I could be partying with Kate Moss and snorting coke off Beth Ditto at the MTV awards and she'd still think I was boring.

Later on in the week we are in the car on the way to school when the subject comes up again.

''I want to do my work experience with a DJ''
''A Deeeee Jaaaaaay. She spells out the words as if I am deaf and dumb
''A radio DJ you mean?''
"No. A club DJ''

I laugh so much I narrowly avoid crashing the car into a Lollipop lady.

''And how do you think that one is going to work?''
''I'll just like, go along, and how he mixes... and stuff''
''Right. And where do you imagine this D. J. is going to be doing that?'' I spell out the 'D' and the 'J' in a similar way to how my 65 year old mother would.
''I don't know. In clubs and stuff?''
''And how do you imagine you're going to get to go in those, what with you being 14 and all?''
''I'll be 15 by the time it happens''
''And your point is?''

And by this time we are outside the gates of Chav Towers and I am filled with the utter joy of being right and The Teenager having no comeback. This never happens.

''Bye then!'' I trill and hand over her lunch money
''Yeah, thanks, bye'' and she opens the car door to get out.
''Maybe you could try and get a placement with Alan Sugar?'' I begin to giggle.
''Alan Sugar. You know, if Pete Tong's not available''
"You're hilarious mother'' she deadpans
''I know! I am aren't I?''
"Fine. I'll do fashion then"
''Oh well that's fine than. I'll just give my mate Stella McCartney a buzz''
''There's nothing wrong with aiming high Mother. I mean, why not?'' And she gets out and slams the door.

I stop laughing pretty fast as I watch her walk to her first lesson of the day. I get a flashback of what it was like to be 14 and have all of life in front of you, pregnant with possibility. A blank canvas ready to fill with whatever you chose. All that choice with no fear.

I drive to work in silence while thinking about the fact that 'Why not?' is also good first lesson of the day for a grown-up.