I don’t know how it’s possible, because I’m only 21 (ok sssh, 23) but I appear to be the mother of two teenagers (not including the one waiting in the wings for April).
I’m in denial. I’m in shock.
But sadly they are not.
Like it or not, they are teenagers. They are teenagers because of their age, but mainly because of their attitude. They’ll not appreciate it. Hey, I’m still scarred from having had the “teenager” label myself . Yet sadly the label exists due to its actual accuracies in how they act.
My two lovely teenagers have been offered the life changing experience of a school trip to Auschwitz. I wouldn’t want to go, but I revel in life experiences and this sure is one. So, sure, it costs £zillion each but I’m all about the life experiences.
Maddie (because she’s the sensible one) asked (that’s the ‘I love you’ version of ‘demanded’ which is more accurate representation of the request) that I go to the parents meeting.
My over riding ‘I’m a mother’ memory of the meeting is ‘it’s going to be cold, make sure they have layers’. (Not the ‘you have to drop them at the school at 3am’ part, cos mothers suffer, that’s part of the job description) I hate being cold. I hate my babies suffering. I will move heaven and earth to ensure my babies are warm.
So cue my babies amazing ability to show two versions of being “a teenager”.
One, I wouldn’t like to say which, demanded that they be taken IMMEDIATELY to buy everything.
Why haven’t I provided the 100mls of everything (oh yes, because, we didn’t have enough stress, they’re only taking carry on luggage) they might possibly need in the 60 hours they are away from home within the 2 days it has been requested? I am quite possibly the worst parent in the history of parents. I don’t care about them. I only care about the others. They hate me. Blah blah blah (don’t they know I am the tennager ‘Kevin’ was written about).
We agree a date when suitable to all parties that I can go shopping.
The date of shopping arrives.
I ask other teenager if they need anything.
He (sorry ‘they’) mumbles he’s fine.
I suggest he needs a new coat.
He’ll wear an extra jumper.
Fine, I say, please write me a list.
His list consists of “Pringles” for the trip. (In fairness to this particular teenager, I suspect he won’t eat for the entire time he is not in distance of the local McDonalds)
Fine. I say.
(He ignores me)
On ageeed “shopping day” other teenager demands to know exactly what time we are going.
We agree a time.
Teenager is not pleased because I do not have three babies and myself ready to go at exact time.
Eventually we are ready to go. Teenager is not happy because I am late of exact agreed time.
Shop #1 does not have required items (but 2 things for tag-along underage children)
Shop #2 is jackpot! Everything one needs for out of season experiences. I don’t want to say who shop #2 is because their employment practices are shady and their customer service is shocking.
Teenager spends 30 minutes determining correct combination of hat, scarf and gloves.
Extra baby #1 needs toilet.
Shop with shady background does not have toilet facilities. (But recommend shop down the street with excellent customer services but on brink of bankruptcy)
Have to race extra baby number #1 down street.
Come back to teenager and now fed up extra babies #2 and #3 and buy gloves, scarf and hat. She (sorry, they) doesn’t need anything else because friend has offered walking shoes and my mums suitcase will be fine as carry on luggage.
Move to Boots where she finds exact travel size replicas of every single product she might ever need.
She can’t find the clear bags. We may need to declare an emergency.
I suggest Amazon.
She is placated (phew)
Long live Amazon, the provider of everything a consumer might need ever; as long as it can wait till tomorrow (just don’t mention their own shady employment practices)
So we are done. Two teenagers ready for their trip.
I tell teenager #1 what we bought.
Oh. I might need gloves. He says.
And a scarf.
And a bag that is the right dimensions.
I tell him we have the right bags for the airline.
No, he says, it’s not the airline that is making the rules, it’s the school. Do I know the dimensions the school needs?
Cambridge University he’s thinking of.
Maddie (sorry, teenager #2) has decided the boots that have been offered her are the wrong colour. No. She won’t try them on because they’re not the right colour.
Back to the shop that has no customer service we must go.
Wait 30 minutes and ask 3 people (who will call a colleague to help) and someone finally can collect right size for the shoes she wants.
Extra baby #1 needs toilet again.
He’s 3. When he has to go…..
Return to shop I would like to live in.
She’s tried on shoes and she declares they look great.
I try and point out that they are fashion shoes and that these other ones (that are half the price) have “all weatherproof” written on them. She says that more expensive, fashion ones “LOOK more weather proof” (what’s an old, unknowing mother to do?)
We look at some other stuff that *may* be suitable for teenager #1 who refuses to leave bedroom but relentlessly caring mother thinks might be suitable. Teenager #2 admonishes me for being so old and un knowledgable of fashion and suitability for 17-year-old boy on most things but agrees to a gilet. Yay! A body warmer surely will reduce chances of hypothermia and death of firstborn! It’s something! Hooray! Child will not die. Yay!
Meantime we have passed another pair of shoes that look similar to fashion ones but also say “weather proof”on them. Teenager #2 reluctantly agrees to try them on.
Wait another 30 minutes while helpful (underpaid) staff deem us interesting enough to serve.
She agrees they fit! She agrees they look ok! Hooray! Child won’t lose feet from hypothermia due to fashion!
I might purr.
Suitcase is not the right size.
All is lost. The world may end.
There were suitable size suitcase in TKMaxx for reasonable price.
Or, she says, my friend has a bag I could borrow.
(It doesn’t help to scream)
So you’re happy, I say? (I may possibly be the most unreasonable person on the planet) ‘Yes’ she scoffs.
Go to teenager #1. Do you have everything you need? “Ugh” he says. (It’s a finely tuned language only a mother can understand, but this particular inclination of the word “ugh” means yes). Great! I say. You’ve got everything: warm trousers? “I might need some new tracksuit bottoms” he says’ “a hat?” I ask “no I don’t have a hat”
Ok. Let’s go now.
“Can’t you just take a pair of my trousers and measure them?”
“No. I need you to try them on”
But I don’t want to go
“Ugh” (that’s not a good ‘ugh’)
I’ll buy you food for the trip on the way back.
“Ugh”(I know when I’m winning)
I shout to the extras to get ready, we’re leaving in five minutes.
After five minutes I have two extras and myself in car plus have deemed it acceptable for the other two extras to stay home with other (barely) legal guardian and that she definitely doesn’t need anything else and is entirely happy at being left out of trip.
Wait another ten minutes for teenager #1 to deem it necessary for him to attend.
Agree with teenager #1 we are buying tracksuit bottoms. That’s it. That’s all. He definitely does not want or need anything else. Tracksuit bottoms and out. (Then to Tescos to buy Pringles as deemed previously essential aka bribery)
Get to shop. Ask teenager if he needs a hat.
Yes he needs a hat.
Ask teenager if he needs a scarf.
Yes he needs a scarf.
Ask teenager if he needs trouser skins (like tights, but for men. Footballers wear them so totally acceptable. Otherwise would be considered leggings and deemed totally effeminate. Today is not the day to highlight this fact. My baby will be warm)
Yes he needs trouser skins (today totally not the day to highlight the fact that tights cost £5 and trouser skins cost £30. My baby will be warm.)
Ask teenager if he needs t-shirts.
Yes he needs t-shirts.
Suggest this one. He is not amused.
Extra baby #1 needs a wee.
(Today is not the day to question wee vs attention seeking device)
Return to customer service lacking shop and tell teenager to try on clothes. He’s reluctant. Surely any large size trousers are just the same as any extra large trouser skins. I demand trying on. Teenager pretends to try on while I ‘entertain’ extra babies. I find perfect suitcase at reasonable price.
Send teenager #2 a photo. Teenager #2 is in total shock. Who needs a suitacase? I don’t need a suitcase because I am borrowing my friends.
I question my own sanity that I have imagined entire last week’s stress and heartache over size and suitability of any suitcase we have in our house or my parents house at our disposal. A perfect suitcase has now been found. I therefore need to wipe entire suitcase problem from my mind. I don’t know why I ever thought otherwise.
Teenager #1 comes out of changing room. “They’re all fine” he says. “Which are fine?” I say, “one of the trousers is large and the other is extra large”. I stress he has to TRY EVERY item on to enable a valid judgment.
Ask teenager #1 if he would like perfect suitcase. He tells me he’s not allowed to take a suitcase, only a BAG of correct dimensions.
Now is not the time to argue suitcase vs bag conundrum.
I spend another 10 minutes looking for helpful sales assistants. (It’s not their fault, they’re paid as if they were children in Thailand)
While waiting for teenager #1 to re-emerge from changing rooms, extra #2 decides she absolutely positively MUST have roller skates. She’s six. I am now worst parent in whole entire world because I won’t let her break her neck. It is also entirely inconceivable to her that teenager #1 is allowed things while she is not. I consider listing all the toys she has had out shopping while teenager #1 has been hiding in his bedroom but lack strength to argue. She continues to punch me to get her message across. I suggest punching is more likely to get her ignored. She punches harder.
It’s a battle of wills.
She has ten years to work out how to win me over. She’ll have had those roller skates a thousand times over by then. She’ll probably have had them ten times over by Saturday. If only they appreciated it! But hey, mothers are not for appreciating.
Teenager #1 emerges from changing room with shoes untied and decrees large is better than extra large. Who am I to argue? Who am I to ask how he decided trouser skins were satisfactory while shoes were still tied. He’s “happy” and I’m a version of happy: he will have something on his legs and therefore will not freeze. He’s a fraction more likely to return unharmed. A mother of a seventeen year old can only do so much.
And so to the Pringles. Bribery of the 17 year old.
Teenager #1 learns what it’s like to shop it’s a 3 year old. 3 year old decides he needs to bring his trike.
Teenager #1 asks why he needs toothpaste, or shower gel, or deodorant because ‘it’s only a couple of days’.
I ask does he need water. But “it’s only a couple of days” he says. I remind him he has to travel to airport at 3 o’clock in the morning. He pauses and decides no he doesn’t (but he might need coke).
Then he thinks maybe he might need those scone things in the black packaging we used to buy. I have no idea what he’s talking about. I suspect this may be his fathers version of ‘breakfast’ before a football match. I ask him if they are fresh or dry. He says he doesn’t know the difference. I rack brains for “scone things in black packaging”. Find them in the scone aisle, in finest black packaging. (I amaze myself sometimes).
Teenager #1 enjoys delights of shopping with babies including having to carry unwanted trike mid shopping, having eyes in three different directions as babies get bored and opening drinks mid shop just to appease them (because *I* know I’m going to pay for them, which I did)
So, it’s finally done. They’re ready.
Apart from teenager #2 trip for supplies.
And the actual ‘dropping off’.
Which I’m thinking will start at 2am via McDonalds. They are my babies after all. And they are leaving the county.
For sixty hours.