My daughter Amelia and I are very close and she was the dearest child from nought to thirteen. When she hit her teens I sometimes wondered if an alien had infiltrated the body of my sweet cuddly girl. Tantrums became part of our life.
I was sent to New York for a week by my employers and was excited at the idea of an expenses paid trip there. Amelia said she was far too old to need a babysitter so I asked my mum to stay at my flat to keep her company.
I had taken the overnight flight from New York and had barely slept. A kid behind me had kept up a non-stop barrage of kicks on the back of my seat. So I treated myself to a taxi from Heathrow and called my mum to say I was on my way. Mum sounded a bit flustered. She said she wouldn't be there to greet me as she just had to get back to her place.
'You sure you can't wait? I've got you a present from Bloomingdales' I said.
'Sweet of you darling, but I must fly, really.'
Amelia opened the front door to me. Seeing the look of horror on my face she said at once:
'It's not pierced mum! It's just stuck on.'
Protruding from the left side of her pretty button nose was a very large and very vulgar diamante stud. Now I was used to Amelia sticking transfers on her arms and occasionally a Bindi on her forehead, so I accepted this and kissed her wearily.
'OK. Sweetheart can I give you your present later. I'm dead on my feet.'
'Of course mum. Go to bed now and I'll bring you a cup of tea.'
I could not remember the last time Amelia had made me a cuppa. I slipped under my duvet gratefully and drank the tea she had made me. Then I stretched out with a deep sigh and slept for the next three hours.
I woke up feeling a bit liverish, as you do when you sleep deeply during the day. I gave Amelia the purple satin rucksack I'd bought her in New York. She was suitably impressed by the small designer label on its side.
A few hours later Kit, my oldest friend, arrived at my flat. We were once an item in our student days. He's laid back about stuff and Amelia thinks he's cool. She said hi before retreating to her room. Kit and I took glasses of wine out into my garden and I was enjoying the smell of the lavender bush and the hum of the bees. It was good to be home.
After a while Kit said:
'You're taking her piercing very calmly. I'm impressed.'
'It's not pierced' I said. 'It's just stuck on for effect.'
Kit gave me one of his I can't believe how naive you are looks, but said nothing further. Then the light went on. That was why my mum had fled before I got back to the flat; just as Kit was preparing to do now as he saw my face.
'Don't lose it Jane. You must stay calm' he said as he beat a hasty retreat.
But I was losing it. I could feel my jet-lagged body filling with rage, as if it was doubling in size. I would not have been surprised if my skin had started to turn Incredible Hulk green too. I marched into the flat.
'Amelia, come here NOW' I commanded.
She came to the threshold of her bedroom and looked at me.
'It's pierced isn't it?'
'It's my body!' she said fiercely.
'You want that ugly great hole in your nose forever?'
'I think it looks great.'
'Great? It looks hideous' I shrieked.
She darted into the bathroom, the one room in our flat that has a lock on the door, and promptly bolted it.
'Go away. I HATE you!'
I stood outside the bathroom door and thundered:
'You will not get ONE PENNY of pocket money as long as you have that THING in your face!'
Amelia stuck it out for one whole hour in the bathroom. Then the boredom must have kicked in and she stormed out and flung the offending diamante stud at my feet.
'I hate you. You're a control freak.'
A great slamming of her bedroom door followed.
On reflection I did not deal with that situation well. When Amelia came home at age 17 with her belly button pierced I took it far more calmly.
My novel THE LIE OF YOU is published by Head of Zeus.Suggest a correction