Coming of age…

Friday 7 February 2020

This week is double birthday week in our house. Small boy careers further through his teenage years and my eldest turns 18…

As 18 is a landmark birthday, I agree to a small gathering. We stock up on snacks and festoon the house with balloons, banners and bunting. And, at 7:30 pm sharp, the house is invaded by about fifteen sixth-formers, brandishing bottles of booze and alive with youth, energy and party spirit. They are delightfully polite but as the music strikes up and my careful array of plastic glasses is cast aside, in favour of larger beakers and…just glugging it from the bottle, I sense that I am pretty irrelevant. I resolve to ‘leave them to it’ and retreat, to hole myself up in the dingy den inhabited by Small boy and his xbox .

By 8:30 pm, it already feels like an endless siege. The noise is incredible. There’s singing. There’s shrieking. There’s laughter. There’s …. my hoover…? Small boy, racing to take up sentry duty at the door, reports a sighting of ‘Vanish Carpet Cleaner’ disappearing into the lounge. I crave a large whiskey, but I have work in the morning and force myself to swig on a Diet Coke instead.

I make a half-hearted effort to persuade Small boy that ‘Netflix with Mum’ could be as much fun as gaming with his mates, but he is unimpressed. Accepting (inevitable) defeat, I balance my lap top in one hand, my coke in the other and head upstairs. Prom dress daughter, looking calm and unperturbed, is plugged into her phone and writing an essay. I decide to get on with a bit of work too. At least it’s productive… if not quiet. Endless troops of teens giggle and gaggle their way in and out of the bathroom and at one point a party goer, who has got drink all over her hair, pops tipsily in to ask for a hair dryer!

At 10-ish, I pack Small boy off to bed and am tuning my radio into Question Time when he bobs excitedly back into my room.

“Mum …. did you hear that? Something’s smashed!”

We venture down together to find the merry bunch sweeping (and hoovering) up the remains of one of my glass bowls.

“Mum!” slurs my eldest affectionately, “Don’t worry we are all ok!”

As no-one is actually injured, and my hoover is clearly having a night to remember, we wish them all lots of fun and head for bed.

And that’s the last I hear as weariness takes over and, in the middle of a BBC debate about Tracy Brabin’s off-the-shoulder jumper, I drift off to sleep.

In the morning … all is quiet … all is tidy… all partying is over. And, as I set off to work, I know I have learned a valuable lesson. When Prom dress daughter turns 18, I am going out for the evening!!

Birthday Season!

Saturday 9 February 2019

The Birthday Duo – many years ago!


Oh dear, it’s been a truly, terrible week and I’ve spent much of it feeling like the worst parent on the planet. My head has been overloaded with deadlines and difficult decisions at work, and overloaded at home with demands for my time, the mum taxi and my wallet. My body is exhausted with day-in day-out drudgery. If only my big mouth could have been too weary to make an appearance this week. But alas no, feeling the stress, it has been guilty of firing out stupid, and at time awful, comments at the people I work with and live with. With horrendously bad timing, this has hit Birthday Week for two of my children and so, in move to drag myself away from the whirlpool of gloom that is threatening to submerge me, I have decided to concentrate on them, worry about everything else later. So here is a paragraph about each of my Birthday duo.

I’ll start with ‘Small Boy’ my youngest, but tallest child who continued to march through the teenage years this week. Described by one teacher, at a recent Parent’s Evening, as ‘remarkable’, he really is a remarkable bundle of creativity.  He tootles away for hours on the piano my mum gave us, re-creating and then rearranging his favourite rock and pop tunes, he’s just teaching himself the guitar and already does a brilliant rendition of Phoebe‘s ‘Smelly Cat’  (from Friends) and his writing is so amazing, I once accused him of copying his English homework from a published novel!  He’s witty, he’s clever, he’s unbelievably good company. More importantly he is also incredibly kind and thoughtful, gets spiders out of rooms, takes his Nana on day’s out, always gives money to people begging on the streets and once called the RSPCA to rescue an injured bird in the garden. He also does an amazing job of coping, as the lone man,  in our home of females. We may all shout  ‘Shut the door!‘ whenever music from the piano or his latest vinyl starts to fill the house, but the truth is ‘Small Boy’ rocks our world!

My eldest child also celebrated her Birthday this week. She is an unstoppable force who just takes our breath away. When my girl sets her sights on a goal, her drive, determination and discipline kick in and she grafts her way to glory!  But, while we all marvel at her achievements, we all love her because she is just beautiful on the inside and out. Day to day, she quietly tries to make my life easier by doing jobs around the house, but in a crisis, such as the time Small Boy cut his eye open and I passed out, or the time I forgot to collect him from the school Panto, she just takes over and completely comes into her own. When the chips are down, there’s simply no-one alive I’d rather have by my side. We may all groan as she launches into her latest scientific fact at mealtimes, gets potassium into a game of I-spy, or insists on sharing a pack of Smarties into equally coloured as well as equally sized portions, but the truth is she is our oxygen, our carbon, our hydrogen, our nitrogen, she is the essential element in our lives and we would not survive without her.

Well…. that was good therapy as it goes!  I feel much better and thinking about how wonderful and unique all three of my children are,  I conclude that whilst there are many better in this world, I am possibly not the worst parent on the planet after all.  Hopefully by Monday I might even be up for ‘Smashing’ this single parent life again…