The Empty nest syndrome is something I see all around. Sad eyed middle aged women getting up like clockwork to put out the endless boxes of cereal to feed the ones who have left. Our body clocks pinging at 4pm and the Pavlovs dogs reaction of shovelling a half hundred weight of biscuits onto plates and producing gallons of juice and milk for the hoards to drink when they descend on the house at 4.30pm on their ways home. Only there are no hoards now. All those muddy kneed rugby playing school boy/men are away. Away to begin their lives without so much as a by your leave for the entrenched routines that having given birth to and brought up a child has riven into the homes and lives which they inhabited. The silence. The tidiness. The thrum of music through the wall from his room replace by the ticking of the kitchen clock. The fridge which remains full and the milk which is still bought in gallons going off.
Until this very moment you have had not a second to think about it as the toddling becomes totting into school turns to hormones turns to teenage battles turns to exams and then to – well this – the point. To bring up a responsible member of society who can clean his teeth, brush his hair, and be independent. This is a success. This was your job. OK its not full redundancy maybe a fairer term would be voluntary redundancy. It is a new beginning for them so why not you?
So with that in mind I am slinging my bag over my shoulder, grabbing my sausage dog and am off. Muffin top, hormonal rollercoaster, bouts of dieting, bouts of drinking, bouts of regret, bouts of hysteria, eruptions of spots, despair, creativity, dunderheidedness, insomnia, grumpiness all accompanied by increasing hairiness in strange places – why the inside of my nose is now tufting up is not something I am either proud of or delighted about – and that’s just the half of it, said the bearded slack jawed lady. Still look on the bright side….at least when Santa retires I might be a shoe-in for the big job.
With car, sausage dog and passport am off. Will report back.
This time next week the boy who has turned into a teenwolf and teeters on manhood is off to Zante. Yes the island that has featured on Sex, Sea and Suspicious Parents in which platoons of teenagers maraude the nightclubs and bars speed drinking, fighting and lying in pools of suspicious substances after thrusting their tongues down available throats. I feel sick.
It’s a right of passage I am told.
Yes. I understand.
I understand but it makes no odds. The lump of concrete in my belly is intact. So I have a few choices to make.
Drink for 7 days thus displaying the ‘if you cant beat them join them’ ethos?
Find a crooked Dr and arrange an intravenous tranquiliser for the week?
Check myself into a chanting retreat to be calmed in a Zen like fashion?
No. None of the above. I will have to display the mature adult persona. Being helpful, concerned yet happy to let him go to the land of the lamping, flashing and guzzling. AAAARRRGGHH. I may have to practice this technique as at the moment barricading the door so he cant get out of his room is still rather appealing.
Genuinely it’s not his lot I am worried about it’s the lunatic heavily tattooed, drunken casual spoiling for a fight and taking a dislike to a bunch of Scottish lads. Just for the hell of it.
What do you give a teenage boy to whip him into a frenzy?
Beer that cannot be detected on the breath by the sharp nosed parent?
A one on one with the cheerleaders of the national rugby team?
X Ray eyes?
An ability to study whilst listening to their Ipod, texting their friends and Facebooking – oh no of course, according to teenwolf they can do that.
A pizza the size of a sports stadium?
Some ‘`how to get the ladyeeeez to`LOVE you’ tips from Jayzee?
Yes to one or all of the above.
One thing that will not however get them into a frenzy, is the package I took home today.
As you can see it looks rather intriguing. It was as teenwolf undid the tags on the side and as it burst into it’s upright glory .it resembled one of those cloth tunnels he had as a 3 year old from IKEA which he spent many hours climbing through.
‘God Mum it’s not a tunnel is it?
‘You’re joking! ‘
‘Oh…well ‘, he muttered as he looked in a bemused fashion into the very belly of the cloth beast as it stood on it’s end.
‘Well what is it?’
‘Ok sit down,’ he sat down ‘this is an alien concept, an implement which will stun and confuse you’.
A nervous tick emerged as he watched me suspiciously.
‘It is a …’
Pause for effect
For once I had his full attention
‘A receptacle into which you put your dirty laundry.’
‘Oh’ instant and extreme disinterest is now displayed.
‘Anything that is dirty that does not go in here, will not be washed.’
He gave me that ‘och Mum I know how much you love me this is bound to a temporary arrangement’ grin.
I gave him the evil eye.
‘ I mean it.’
So off he went to do his homework. AKA Sit in front of the computer, facebooking his pals, strumming the guitar, texting, listening to his Ipod – oh but only after spreading his school books on the kitchen table so when I walk in he can quick as a flash sit in front of them and look studious. I shall post an update in 24 hours…what do you think the odds are of anything being in it?
Please examine the artists (if you can call me that!) impression of the process below. – I am the one with the big bottom on the left. Double click on it to make it bigger – but beware it is Teenwolf’s lair. Welcome to my world.
Last minute lottery stuff as usual. On the eve of school going back.
Digging out the school breeks – they have holes in them. Where did these holes come from? Dunno.
What do you mean dunno? it looks like someone cut holes in them with scissors.
OK whilst we are at it where are your school shoes?
Find them then. They are produced scruffy, scuffed but polishable on the top side and then I flipped them over and realised there are hole in the soles. HOLES! Holy breeks and holy shoes. Holy shit I shout we are going out to get you sorted.
So breeks on board we hit the shoe shops. We end up in Top Man. TOP MAN! I used to be made to wear Clark Startrites and then horrific lace up horors until I left scohol. Yeh but that was the olden days came the mumbled reply.
So he has slip ons. Very Jason King. Black slip ons. And new black hole-free trousers there is just one thing missing – well two if you count the absence of a sane mother – I haven’t actually seen his face for about 2 months. Hair.
So I drop him at the Barber. He comes home later. Let’s see your hair then. I command. We meet in the hall and yes he has had his hair cut. The one on the left hand side. So after a rather heated discussion during which I was informed I was lame, unfair and 112 he’s going back tomorrow for every other hair on his head to be cut to match it.
Yesterday afternoon we ended up at a party with a cast of dozens from a 6 month old baby to a 79 year old but the most prevalent group were the teenwolves patrolling the premises, hands jammed into pockets, perusing the scene picking off the sausage rolls and cans of Irn Bru and surrepticiously eyeing up the lager.
The highlight of any mixed gathering of ages is observing the crushing inhibition of the teenagers versus the total lack of inhibition of the elderly. I often think you could rule the world if you had the lack of inhibition of a 79 year old whilst line-free young and with it all ahead of you.
Anyway I digress. One of the teenwolves in evidence was wearing a pair of jeans, which had more holes than jeans, the crotch of which was actually toying with trailing along the ground. As he leaned louchely yet desperately self-consciously against a wall, slugging a can and feeling like the dogs bahookey my Mum went up, smiled at him and asked.
Are they meant to be like that?
Yes these are the best jeans I’ve ever owned he said as if that justified the threadbare mass that barely clung to his form. Oh she said turning to me, they look like yours. Eh? A brief glance down at my own legs which were covered in more lycra than denim, thigh squishing, bum holding inners and dark dark blue for maximum slimming effect made me think for a moment yup she’s finally lost it but then another look at the teenagers jeans brought it all back.
When a teenwolf myself I had a pair of leg coverings made of denim, to call them jeans would be an insult to all jeans everywhere.
They were made up a myriad of patches that my pal Johnny MacFarlane had made and after much pestering had leant to me for a family holiday to The Cotwolds. I was keeping them for a special occasion so as we checked into a Stately Home that was also running as a B&B my parents had no idea that having weighed up the surroundings of opulence and grandeur I decided tonight was the night to debut the fabulous denim look. Arranging to meet in the downstairs bar at 7pm gave me just about long enough to squish my body into said jeans before sauntering downstairs and into the bar. On entering I made two instantaneous observations 1 Surprisingly Jimmy Hill the pointy chinned sports commentator was standing with a crowd around him holding court at the bar and more urgently
2. my Dad’s face had turned from a normal ruddy Scottish hue to a deep rumbling red. ‘You are not wearing those to eat dinner’ – he pointed at my jeans. Yes I am. No you are not. Yes I am . No You are not. OK I said I don’t want dinner anyway and out I stomped in high dudgeon back to my room. God I was hungry. As time went on I expected the Peace Keeper that was my mum to come up and say ‘OK Alison if you ditch the breeks you can come back down and eat’ but she didn’t.
So I ran a bath and boiled myself to distract from the hunger and fury and unjust world in which I found myself and as I lay there listening to my battery operated radio the shocking news that Elvis Presley had died was announced.
August 16th 1977. I was 15. Teenwolf is 15. It brought it back, that moment, that era, that age, like an anvil to the head. Trousers, hormones, making a stand, unjust parents, them in control, me in purgatory, my pals being great,them being the worst parents ever. And here I am. Roles reversed. The words ‘you are not wearing those to visit your Grandma’ has come out of my mouth on more than one occasion and his reaction of ‘well I’m not coming’ has too.
So as it turns out ‘I’m just a teenage dirtbag baby’ could have been penned by me, a now 40 something woman in her bedroom in the 70’s as the universal recognition of the circle of hormones – never mind life – is inescapable.
Will this turn me into a more maleable understanding cool parent? I’d like to say yeh but I suspect I already know the answer will be to quote another family favourite ‘over my dead body’ followed by the teenager of whatever era muttering under their breath ‘if you insist’.
To all mothers everywhere. This is not a comedy sketch a documentary.