When you live with three teenagers, you are always the first in bed. You are programmed to sit up trance-like at 2am, jump out of bed and do a check of bodies in beds - and, if bodies are missing, conduct the same check hourly thereafter. This was a shock - a return to broken nights from the exhausting days of Baby-has-a-cold.
So, already, you're sleep deprived, anxious and you get used to that curious mixed emotion of anger and deepest concern; 'When I find him, I'll throttle him...' No, you will hug him with relief, actually. But before this reunion, you will conduct a 3am investigation into his whereabouts. Trawl Facebook for location, evidence, possible leads. Text that nice boy who doesn't drink too much on nights out. He replies courteously. "I left before him, Mrs Jones, but he looked fine. He was enjoying himself." OH NO!!!
Finally, he will turn up - with a tear in his new jeans and a scary bed-head, wearing shoes that don't belong to him. And he will say, endearingly. "I'm so sorry, Mum, my phone ran out of battery as I had too many apps open and I missed the night bus, so I crashed at David's and then I slept in and now I can't find my phone or my wallet or my Barbour jacket." And you will be so happy to see him alive, you will say: "It's okay, Darling, as long as you are safe. Those are only things. We will find the wallet and phone." And we do.
Recently, added to this stressful sleepless mix has been another broken limb. (R-U-G-B-Y, Grrr). I have to drive son 3 to parties, wait for him, bring him back. Admire the nail polish a girl has painted on his toe-nails at the party, remove the nail polish a girl has painted on his toe-nails. Take him for a check up, And another check up. And another. The last wait at the fracture clinic was so boring, I played with the Fisher Price garage in the hospital waiting room.
And there's this curious dichotomy with these teen men; they are soooo sophisticated and in fact could be married, but are still in the educational process. Getting up for school on time, meeting essay and folio deadlines, remembering to shave for school...the person who said that 17 is the very worst age to take the most important exams of your life was not wrong.
As if life wasn't complex and expensive enough, son number 1 passed his driving test. Celebrations! (The first test was a trial. My son asked me to sit on the test. I was given the directions: "Mrs Jones, I have to advise you that you may not look to the left or the right, catch your son's eye or make a noise." "Okay then, I will stare at this fleck of dust on the seat for 45 torturous minutes then.") But now, the L plates are off, the babe magnet is under construction. "Let's phone for insurance!" he says. Three hours later. "Well, if that's the best price, we'll have to take it," says I.
Teenagers - so cool, so needy, so independent (in their mind). Another day, another white knuckle ride for mum.