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.
''Uh. Where are you going?"
''To the cinema"
"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 By 10. 30p.m. the fury will have been replaced by fear, by 10.35 p.m. I will be jumping in the car in my xmas pyjamas driving around the mean streets of Cardiff in search of her.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.