Why is it that, on the fourth day before Christmas, when it's minus 4 degrees outside, I find myself having to scream and shout at my Teen Terrorist like a woman possessed, because he fails to understand that if he is going out into town with his Fiends for the Night and he's staying overnight at Barker's (who has five siblings, Goddess help them - How do they do it??!! How is that family still sane?!), that he needs more than a cotton hoody on, even if he is 'Just going around the clubs, you schizophrenic?'
I swear this great, gallumping Man-Child might not make it until his 18th Birthday...
Yes, I know he's out under-age, but there is no way on earth I would be able to stop him. And he's 18 in early February anyhoo, so I've given up THAT fight.
And why is he not wearing the expensive parka hoody (but bought in an Amazon sale - Canny Fhina, non?!) that he insisted he had to have as a Christmas present...?
“Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents, ” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. Louisa May Alcott ('Little Women')
Ignoring (as so many of us do most of the time) the religious aspects of Christmas, the obvious answer to “Who is Christmas for?” is ‘the children’. But at what stage does this end? In relation to her teenagers wanting a single large present, Expat Mum wrote “I'll have to go out and buy them silly little, (inexpensive) things that probably will never see the light of day again. It makes me feel better.”
We have exactly the same problem. Junior wants some clothes but he doesn’t want to get them until the New Year. So an envelope with money in it is the answer. Asked if he wants anything off his Amazon Wishlist his answer is “No – just money.” Well, hard luck, Junior. Christmas has just stopped being for the children and is now about me and I want to have the presents under the tree – not just mine and Jo’s but some for Junior as well. So I’ll be getting him some things off his Amazon wishlist and a couple of cooking items. He may glower on Christmas morning (especially as he’s not a morning person at the best of times and won’t be looking forward to a traditional sit-down-at-the-table Christmas meal) but I’ll explain that Christmas is as much about giving as receiving and I enjoy giving. (Actually I probably won’t say that I’ll lie and say I had an Amazon voucher to use up – I’m a coward like that.).
The presents, of course, will be wrapped and under the tree. Which brings a further question – who is the tree for? Again, no longer is the answer ‘Junior’. It’s for me. It’s a few years now since he and I decorated the tree together and Jo watched and took photos.
Nowadays I do all the decorating and if I’m really lucky he’ll pop into the conservatory and say ‘Yeah, it looks good’ - but only when he’s prompted by Jo saying ‘What do you think of the tree?’
I think that even if I lived on my own I would have to have a tree and decorations. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree...
Then there is the traditional Christmas meal. Firstly, Junior has difficulty dragging himself out of his den (where his ultra large TV is situated) for a meal. He often cooks his own meals now and almost without exception he heads off to his den to eat it. So the first issue will be getting him to sit at the table with us. The second problem will be that he won’t be hungry. He doesn’t normally eat until some time around midnight so the idea of a meal in the middle of the day won’t appeal. Then we’ll go through the ‘I don’t like sprouts or mash or...’ at which stage he begins to sound like a six year old again. No, without doubt, the Christmas meal is for the adults.
Face it folk, once your children reach their teens the whole concept of Christmas becomes something for the adults. The only consolation is that eventually (and it may be a long time off!) your teenagers will become adults and Christmas may once again be for them.
I love Christmas shopping for my 6 year old. He hasn't asked for anything in particular; by that I mean he tells me he wants whatever flashes up on the TV screen but forgets about it ten minutes later. So far I've bought him a few boxes of Star Wars figurines and a Transformer. I know I can run out at the last minute and just get him a few more big plastic things.
Unfortunately I'm learning that as they get older it isn't so easy. Not only do my teens not ask for much, but they really mean it because the "surprise gifts" I've given them over the past few years (money box that calculates the money as it goes through the slot, for example) are collecting dust in their rooms.
And of course, the biggest problem is not that they don't give you many gift ideas, but the ONE that they do give you costs an arm and a leg. The Queenager wants an I-Phone, and given that her phone is the next door neighbour's cast off, complete with all her old phone numbers AND no functioning "delete" button, I can't really say I blame her. We've made it clear that this will be her only gift and she's happy with that.
The Man-Child wants a new electric guitar. Again, I can't say I blame him as the one he currently plays was bought from a family at school and is the uncoolest, beginner type model you can own. (Intentionally so, I might add. I wasn't shelling big money until we knew he was serious about it all, which doesn't just mean watching hours and hours of guitar-playing on You Tube, even if it is "That's Entertainment" by the Jam.) And again, he's happy with the warning that he's not getting anything else.
So here's my problem. How mean will it look on Christmas morning when they literally have one present each? Especially when their little brother is whooping and squealing with delight. No - I'll have to go out and buy them silly little, (inexpensive) things that probably will never see the light of day again. It makes me feel better.
I know I've moaned on these pages. I've wept and I've despaired. I have hardly an original blonde hair on my head. I've got more wrinkles than the average Shar Pei.
I've dry, scaly eczema on my legs, making me look more like a down-at-heel Lounge-Lizard than a Yummy Mummy.
I've got all the weight Oprah ever lost, gathered around my midriff like a flabby corset.
I've probably consumed the contents of a New Zealand vinyard of Chenin Blanc white grapes, and climbed a glacier of 'Medicinal Chocolate'.
And now I've taken a pause to reflect.
After a few weeks of nocturnal teeth-grinding (me), and some insomnia (himself), Grizz has received two conditional offers for entry to the University of his choice, as opposed to the University of Life (alias McDo's)...
And I can hardly believe it. I know we're not home yet. I realise that he still needs to achieve those results Northumbria Uni has set his sights on...
I understand that getting him to University is only the start of an uphill struggle. One where I'll be ringing him to ensure he's up in the mornings, and not skipping lectures ad hoc. I'll be meeting him over some long lunchtimes to see that he's eating properly, to hand over food-parcels, and hard folding cash. I'll be holding my breath while he sits exams and travels abroad on expeditions for Geographical and Environmental "research."
But I still wonder, is it too early for me to breathe at least a little sigh of relief??!
Oh, and I'm not bragging - No, really I'm not.
At least not since his 'Personal Statement' (for Uni, that I practically wrote for him, (in his own words, mind)) was returned to his school office 'as it had 'grammatical errors'... Gulp...