I reckon this post will come back to bite me on the posterior. I can nearly guarantee when in fact; I reckon I have just under 2 years before I’m holding my head in my hands and wailing ‘WHAT was I thinking?’ If it happens sooner than that, it is conclusive proof of that unwritten parenting rule that you never speak good fortune out loud unless you actually want it to crash around your ears. You know… things like saying “isn’t it great that he sleeps through the night now?” or “I’m so pleased she never did that writing with poo on the walls thing” or “I don’t seem to have any trouble getting her to try new foods” – all statements that guarantee an instant brush with nocturnal, body fluid painting, ‘only eating things that are yellow’ children.
(Or is this just us?)
I have another proof of this rule in fact; since we moved the business into a unit and out of our home we have employed a firm method to get slow moving product lines running. First we say loudly that we haven’t sold any of them for a while and if that doesn’t work, we carefully move them to the least accessible area of the unit. Then we wait, safe in the knowledge they’ll be sold by lunchtime.
Last night Max and I were watching “The House the 50’s Built” which was focusing on the teenagers bedroom. The programme dipped, alongside the scientific advancements of the age, into the concept of the teenager, which emerged around that time. It’s a funny thing, though well enough documented in the Chalet School books I’m so fond of, to think of a time before teenagedom.To go from child at 16, dressed in a frock and in pigtails, to hair up, courting and married with a baby in the space of 4 years at most must have been a whirlwind indeed. Did it work better, I wonder, to have such a smooth transition from child to adult? Is that why family life seemed more stable back then? What did the arrival of the teenager do to society? According to the programme, they were phenomenally affluent as a segment of society and at the forefront of change both socially and scientifically. Their clothes were new, their music new, impermanence crept into material things and jobs and relationships. Hormonally it’s a tricky time anyway but I was fascinated to think what it did to society to have a new generation growing with no background of how to behave among all this sudden evolution of life as they knew it. What seeds did it set for the future?
Max and I were tricky teenagers. I didn’t mean to be tricky at all, I just wanted to be me and I had different goals for myself than my parents did but the net effect was tricky indeed. Max did mean to be tricky and his dad refers to them as dark years indeed. Had there been family law solicitors prepared to divorce children from their parents, I’d definitely have been queuing up for the service. Once I became a parent, one thing I wanted very much was to somehow, with a minimum of cheesy-ness, remain friends with my daughters through this phase.
A couple of years in with daughter number 1 and we seem to have largely achieved this aim so far. I have no idea how and I’m all too aware that we have 12 years of teenage girls left to go yet (and that’s before Ben gets started… argh….) Fran is spectacularly easy going. She talks to us, listens to us, engages with us, wants us to be part of her world, doesn’t shout, slam, stamp, strop or do any of the other things normally attributed to a 14 year old. She even gets up. She even goes to bed.
She’s not perfect (who is?) and she has some comedy moments, like that she admitted the other day that she gets round the ‘no biscuits except at 11am and 3pm’ rule by occasionally making biscuit dough and eating it raw (once at 4am!) I just find that hilarious 😆 but she’s certainly no more stroppy and stressy than I am and I’m profoundly grateful for it. I can more or less laugh at her strewing the house constantly with shoes, bags and ballet clothes as she whirls through her busy and fulfilling little life. She’s a pleasure to be around. While we were watching the programme last night we said how profoundly odd it would be to treat her as a child now, pre-50’s style. She’s very much a force and an entity in her own right. Not a child, not an adult but a noticeable and interesting force and presence.
This week Cherie Blair has been castigating stay at home mothers for not being a good role model to their kids by going out to work. Apparently by staying at home we stop them from becoming independent and growing up to be responsible members of society. I’m not sure I can actually dignify that with a suitable response any more than I can say for certain that our parenting is what has helped Fran turn out so well. However, Cherie, it’s not my teen face down in the gutter drunk, is it?