Ok, so picture the moment, I'm in the car park of Burger King in Wednsebury, yesterday afternoon, (don't ask!). I open the boot to retrieve my handbag and the man in the van next to me, happily munching his Whopper and reading the Sun, spies the 24 cans of Strongbow, 18 bottles of Budweiser and 7 bottles of wine, 3 red, 4 white, and 3 miniature bottles of Bacardi that we stole from a hotel mini bar about five years ago, that I hauled from the larder into my car. He eyed me with suspicion. I knocked on his window and said, 'I've got teenagers.' With my palms raised upwards. He started the engine and left pretty sharpish.
Now, as you know, no child comes with a manual and a receipt. I wish they did, not only would I have been able to figure out where I have been going wrong all these years, but at least one would be able to go back for exchange under a money back guarantee. I honestly thought that despite the blind fumbling's and stumbling's along the path of parenthood, I would see each new 'phase' coming over the horizon like a gentle rolling mist, enabling me to ready my thoughts and act appropriately, not so.
My boys are sixteen, but I still think they are four. Last Friday morning, they were discussing cricket scores and 'A' level options and I kid you not, by 2AM the following morning, they had discovered sex and booze and rock 'n' roll, or whatever the equivalent of rock 'n' roll is nowadays. They slumped, sloshed at the breakfast table, smelling and looking like Berlusconi's entourage and argued the merits of the Vaccines V Paramore (no, me either.) They had three friends in tow, one of whom was wearing nothing but a pair of pants and had a helium balloon, tied around his head.
I hastily made toast and coffee, which hilariously they all considered yucky and declared they were too young to drink - so just to clarify, cider, vodka, cheap plonk and WKD is fine, but a frothy latte - don't be ridiculous! My doorbell then rang and the rest of the 'gang' arrived, girls. Not just any girls, but gorgeous girls, with long legs and shiny hair, the type of girls that intimated me when I was 16 and fat and now intimate me when I am 46 and fat.
They retired to the sitting room under duvets and sleeping bags and I spent the rest of the night with my ear to the floorboards of the room above. Don't get me wrong, I want my house to be where they congregate, figuring I can keep them safe and keep myself in the loop, but what are the sensible parameters? It was so much easier when little ones arrived for a sleep over with a list of their allergies, bed times, parent-approved DVD's for viewing and a bunny from which they had never been separated at bed time.
This new phase is bewildering, I want to let them do what the parents of their peers let them do, using them as my template, but what if they are watching me to gauge their own behaviour? The very thought horrifies me; I could be inadvertently responsible for the mismanagement of all teens in my immediate postcode!
I tentatively popped my head around the door-frame the next morning, and heard one son shout, 'kiss my Jigglypuff!' the boys were playing a Pokémon video game and I nearly wept. The girls were huddled in sleeping bags on the floor and at least one clutched a soft toy. My heart lifted slightly, my babies were not gone, not just yet. Working away, I left them home alone yesterday and have no reports from the neighbours as to any wild parties that got out of control. Mind you, bit hard to party with a 2-litre bottle of squash and no plug on the stereo, oh yes, that too was nestling next to the booze mini-mart in the back of my car. I may be naïve and inexperienced, but I aint stoopid.
Besides, I overheard them on the phone, planning a night in with Charlie, who I can only assume is a friend of theirs. Phew.