10 January, 2013 / General
I live in a houseful of teenagers. One is twelve (she’s a girl so that counts as a teenager) and the other two are almost sixteen. When they were younger, when my shoulder bag was crammed with breadsticks, raisins and all the other joyless snacks I insisted on carting around (whilst I feasted on a bar of Green & Black’s – yum yum), people would always tell me to savour the moment. ‘You’ll miss these days when they’re gone,’ they’d tell me. ‘Children are adorable, while teenagers – well, they’re not so much.’ They – by whom I mean acquaintances with older offspring – would then detail the perils of living with people who are old enough to roam the streets by themselves, but still can’t wash up effectively.
They drink, smoke and stay out all night, they warned me. All they want is money and lifts, and you’ll never be able to relax in the evening with a glass of wine, because you’ll have to drive to some godforsaken place to pick them up from a party. And, when you do – at midnight – they’ll look disgusted at the very sight of you.
While I don’t want to jinx things by reporting that none of the above has happened to us, I’d like to redress the balance by mentioning a few of the lovely aspects of having teens in the house. Truly – I wouldn’t swap these hormonally-charged days for the nappy/potty/reading-Letterland-books-until-I-was-literally-sobbing stage.
While my teenagers are not, admittedly, especially talented in the hoovering department, there are loads of great things about having them around.
1. Play equipment
When your kids are older, you can take delight in the fact that, not only have you survived your stint as a hands-on parent, but you have done so WITHOUT HAVING A BLOODY CLIMBING FRAME IN THE GARDEN. Ditto swing, slide or trampoline which, judging by friends’ experiences, exist only to be splattered with bird poo and wet leaves.
2. Picture books
Miss your cuddly toddler? Instead, celebrate the fact that you no longer have to read that terrible story about a lost puppy who befriends a slipper. Of course, there are tons of wonderful children’s picture books around, but the fact is, children are likely to fixate on the most terrible story, with no discernable plot, demanding it night after night until the only option is to pronounce it ‘lost.’
Teenagers are no longer obsessed with what’s ‘fair.’ For what felt years – decades, even – my kids squabbled over the most ludicrous things – like who’d been given the ‘best’ piece of toast, or had the biggest verruca. While teens may take a mild interest in the goings-on in each other’s lives, they are no longer obsessed with who’s Mum’s ‘favourite’ – because, in their eyes, the less parental involvement they have to endure, the better.
Hurrah! You longer have to nag them about eating vegetables. Frankly, it would feel ridiculous to beg a towering hairy person – who could be legally married within a year – to ‘eat those yummy green beans.’ So you give up, trying to set a good example by chomping greenery – while they tuck happily into their slimy noodles.
5. Peaceful driving
Whereas once the car reverberated with small people shouting and spraying Ribena and crisp crumbs about, now everyone has their headphones plugged in and sits in silence. I can drive for hours without anyone uttering a word. It’s ruddy marvellous. No, hang on, what am I saying? It’s horrible! Lonely and miserable, like I’m some nameless chauffeur they can’t be bothered to pass the time of day with. Maybe they’re paying me back for not getting a climbing frame.