Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The hideousness of having teens – you’re not alone!

My children have finally begun moving out of that appalling I-hate-everyone-but-you-most-of-all phase of early teenagehood and into a new stage that makes them fairly pleasant to have around. Because it happens slowly (oh so slowly), and because we human beings are particularly good at blocking out bad memories, I’d forgotten how ghastly your child’s puberty could be until I got an email from a friend in London with two children in their early teens – Z, a girl of 15, and J, a boy of 13.

‘Z and J bicker all the time and Z gives me looks of such withering contempt that if I weren’t a more robust person, I’d probably be saddened at the cruel cutting of the mother-child bond, instead of which I just get so angry,’ she wrote. ‘I lost my temper last week, which I do from time to time, but so badly that I ended up with a racing heart and sweating hands and had to go and lie down before I had a stroke. Afterwards I was pleased to see that I hadn’t actually assaulted Z in my rage so I’m obviously a deeply controlled person.’

About Z’s (disappointing) exam results, my friend (who’s an academic editor) wrote, ‘How she ended up, with me as a mother, so hopelessly unable to use punctuation I do not know. Actually, she thinks it’s another anachronism from my incredibly distant past and therefore completely irrelevant to her.’

I was so heartened this email – it’s such a relief to discover other mothers go through the same pain.

And of course younger children, who do have the benefit, at least of ‘still thinking I’m her lovely mummy, not some money-providing inconvenience in what is after all, her life, not mine’, also have their little challenges. My friend’s last-born, C, who’s 10, ‘has been ready for her next certificate in swimming for some time but couldn’t (or wouldn’t) take off her goggles and pick up something from the bottom of the pool, so I’m afraid I shamelessly bribed her by promising her that if she did, I would take her and a friend to see High School Musical in London in the school holidays. Needless to say she was at the bottom of the pool in a flash. With older children you will not understand the full horror of HSM (Juno will, no doubt) – the kids say it’s like a 21st-century version of Grease, but it makes Grease look like, I don’t now, Proust maybe or Dostoevsky … And what’s more the tickets are between £25 and £40 for a seat so I will have to pay to sit through it. I will have to take a flask of something bracing.’

Isn’t that wonderful? Thanks, M, for reminding me that I’m not alone. (And take heart: this too shall pass.)

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1 comment:

meggie said...

I have felt like your friend. I once slapped my teenage granddaughter & thought I had broken a finger. I never had the sort of reaction with my own children, & could not believe how heinous a teenager could be... until I remembered me!