When I was collecting Alfie from school last week he asked if he could have some time to run around with friends so I let him take off while I hung around in a rapidly disappearing patch of sunshine hoping we could soon leave.
There was a group of other mothers standing near me whose oldest children are in the same year as Alfie. They appeared to have three children each, ranging in ages from around three to eight years. On seeing me they called me over to join them. ‘Charlie, we were just talking about how tiring and difficult these years are; what’s it like when they’re teenagers’.
Now that was their first mistake. They should never have asked. Because if you think the primary school years are a challenge you’re going to need something stronger than vitamins to survive from thirteen to nineteen.
I didn’t want them to go home depressed so I left out the bit where we’ve had phone calls from five different police stations on five separate occasions and all in the middle of the night, and I left out the bit where I’ve gone into their bedrooms in the middle of the night only to discover they’ve jumped out the window and taken themselves on a midnight excursion.
But I did gently mention in a subtle sort of a way that at least when they’re young you know where they are at night. Without intending to, I sort of stripped their smiles from their faces.
So I tried to say something encouraging. ‘What I recommend is taking it easy now. Don’t get worked up over homework and assignments and who didn’t get the teacher they wanted and which friends didn’t end up in the same class. You want to conserve your energy for the bigger battles that include:
Would I rather have the sex talk or take my daughter for a driving lesson?
The transition from ‘You’re the best mother in the world and can I come with you?’ to ‘You’re such an embarrassment and I don’t want to be seen with you’.
The, ‘I’m 16 and by law I can leave school so this week’s my last week’, phase.
The, ‘Everyone else is allowed to stay up late/drink/smoke/do drugs/go to the party/see that R-rated film so why can’t I’ stage.
Your daughter walking through the door with either her eyebrow/nose/lips/tongue/ears/belly button/nipples pierced or perhaps a combination of all of these.
The, ‘Why can’t I get a tattoo? It’s just body art. And I don’t need your permission; I’m 16 you know; I can do what I want’ mentality.
The money that you hand to therapists, counselors, paediatricians and orthodontists. Did I mention orthodontists?
Losing/breaking/smashing/having stolen their mobile phone/lap top/USB/i-pod touch.
The, ‘Why can’t I sleepover at my boyfriend’s house? I’ll be sleeping on the couch. You’re so last century, mum’, phase.
The tears and the anguish and the heartache and the highs and the lows of puberty and hormone hell.
And they were silent. Interesting how before I joined their group they were so chatty; now it seemed they had nothing to say. So I said in an upbeat way, ‘But with kids, every stage is a good stage’.
Somehow I didn’t convince them.
I realise it’s been a while since I told you anything about my Archie. That’s because he’s so busy I hardly see him. He’s now in his final year of uni (if he passes) and as he’s studying musical theatre, they put on a musical. This year it will be Rent. Have you seen it? I haven’t. It sounds far from an upbeat comedy. The auditions have been over the last few weeks. Archie wanted the role of Roger, one of the leads. He found out a few days ago that yes, he’ll be playing Roger. Roger is HIV positive caused by a drug habit and is an out-of-work musician who has a love interest called Mimi who is a stripper and also HIV positive. Wait until I tell those school mothers!
The musical is being put on not only as a graduation piece but also so industry people including casting agents, theatrical agents, producers and directors can come to see the new graduating talent that will hopefully lead to work for these aspiring actors/musicians/dancers. The show will be on in August and when I find out the dates I will let you know on Twitter and Facebook – just in case you find yourself in Surry Hills and would like a night dealing with drug addicts and strippers.
Now what’s interesting is that I have reason to believe that the girl playing the role of Mimi is Archie’s new real life love interest. I’ll keep you posted but in the meantime, here’s a photo I ripped off facebook. He took her to the races for her birthday and came home penniless.
Carl took Alfie away for the weekend giving me some time to work which has been very productive. I haven’t cooked anything for my blog but I did photograph (on my phone) what I was cooking for myself and I sent the photos to Carl. (So sorry they are such pathetic images). He was staying with his parents and his mother can’t cook (I say in the nicest possible way) so after a few images Carl texted back, ‘No more food porn, thanks’.
And that’s a wrap on the weekend.