All you parents out there with Year 11 offspring – you have my sympathy. The Boy is doing his GCSEs this year and bitterly regrets choosing at least one. He doesn’t like the teacher – he chose badly yadda yadda. I pointed out (sounding horribly like David Brent) that he can’t go through life blaming other people for his poor performance. He promised to try harder. And then, a few nights ago he hovered outside my door a few nights ago, an anxious expression on his face that as parents of teenage boys know, means one of three things:
I’m in trouble at school
I’ve got a girl pregnant (yeah this little doozy of a thought pops up too)
I want something
So I was relieved when it turned out to be Number Three. Mum mum all my class are going to the Reading Festival tickets booked year in advance please please please pay you back work very hard pass my GCSEs . . . .
I hadn’t been proposed to with as much fervor. And it would be an incentive! No – not a bribe – an incentive! So I got him a ticket for the 2010 Reading Festival. I pointed out that the line up wasn’t going to be announced for a while and if he was very unlucky he might end up listening to Chris de Burgh supported by The Krankies. But nothing could dim his ardour. He actually made me a cup of tea over the next two days and hugged me twice. Yes! A TEENAGER MADE ME A CUP OF TEA! I congratulated myself for understanding. I was providing a good incentive. Quite probably I was down with the kids as well. Why any day a publisher was likely to ring me up and suggest I write a book on Bringing Up Children with my light touch and ability to really get into a teenager’s head.
Yeah yeah. I know. It’s coming.
The next day I had a call from one of his teachers. He had an official detention for not doing an important piece of homework. I was on my way to the school for one of those Show Your Support For You Child In His/Her GCSE Year Meetings – I hadn’t had my dinner and I was grumpy. I clicked off my phone and texted The Boy to tell him about the detention and he texted back saying that he didn’t understand the question. But this was a total lie because teacher had already told me it was more a question of couldn’t be arsed to do the work and he understood exactly what needed to be done. I was furious and felt ridiculously let down. I mean – the next day?! Husband and I grounded The Boy for a week which means he has to miss about 500 000 parties. Today The Boy sloped in from school and begged me to let him go to a particular friend’s party. There’s A Girl involved. I know he thinks I’m a soft touch and I said No. Not shouting or angry but if you say you’re going to carry out a punishment you have to do it. Now he’s next door kicking the shit out of his punchbag. I heard him thumping and crashing and thought I can’t make him do anything and a tiny tiny whisper of . . . my son could hurt me if he hit me. Not that I think he ever would. But I found his rage and frustration shocking. And I feel angry and sad myself. But I can’t give in. He was grounded for behaving badly and lying. I keep thinking . . boundries . . boundries . . over and over and . . I’m his mother not his mate . .
I don’t know how single mothers cope. I take my hat off to all of you.