Friday, 30 April 2010

Where have all the flowers gone?

Bringing up teenagers is such torment.

They can be the Devil Incarnate.

The hormones raging. ...The voices rising in anger...

His and mine. Lawd help the neighbours!

What goes on when they are chattering to their friends on Facebook? Tapping across the keys like Tasmanian Devils! What are they up to? What are they hiding from us?

We, who know better? Their elders and betters, non?!

They are young, they don't know the dangers, the lies of strangers, the horror of Trolls Under The Bridge...

The pleasures and pitfalls of life.

And we tread softly. On brittle eggshells. Through the morass of their lives.

Our lives...

Through Lynx and Cereal, as one of our lovely writers put it lately!

How I identify with you -- Talking to a door. A staircase. A raised hand. A set of jangling car-keys. The back of their well-groomed heads.

...Their music tutor. Their girlfriend... What's going on?

Why isn't Grizz at school?

This is Grizz's last year in school...

He could be in the Army in Israel, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, s we have seen here. How brave you are, you mums of young soldiers. I cannot put myself in your shoes. I could not. I dare not.

Instead, I run the gamut of 'too little too late' handed in papers and assignments. Of work just not done well. Of 'could be doing betters', of examination pictures snapped too late for homework deadlines...

If onlys', and finally 'what ifs...'

I know he has a bright future. I can see it in my dreams. Those lucid dreams where I can stop endlessly worrying about him and get on with 'our' lives... I know I never will...

Day-dreams, where he is dandling his own bright chuckling baby on his lanky knees, and I can go back to feeding handfuls of dry crackers to ravenous, dagger-eyed goats, to taking the ducks some bread, to soaking up leisurely 'Baby Duckling' sessions at the local lido, and putting out his push-chair damp from warm rain to dry in the sun...

Innocence. Innocents.

Where did the time go to, my friends?

Can someone please tell me?

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Teenage Greetings???@#$%??

Teenage Greetings? Oh is that what it's called when they say words in your direction when they see you for the first time in a week?

My 19 year old had me pondering today whether or not the way teenagers respond can even be called a greeting.

Teen soldier was coming home for a night. I had just pulled into the driveway, but when I called him and heard he would be at the bus stop in a few minutes (10 minute ride away), like any wonderful loving modest mother would do, I backed right out again and went to pick him up. Honestly, I was not even muttering or mumbling to myself, just glad I was getting to see him and happy to make it a bit easier for him to get home.

He stepped off the bus, rifle in tow and put his extra large backpack (with gifts for his mother dirty laundry) into the trunk. I was a bit surprised that he didn't try to evict me from the driver's seat, but he must have been exhausted.

I gave him a kiss and said hi, it's so nice to have you home. My once cuddly son (which he was up until about 6 months ago), who would have given me a smile and a hug, seems to have forgotten how to greet his mother.

He turns to me and says "Why is the car so dirty?" Ummmmm, HELLLOOOO! Say hello to your mother. She is a bit more important than a black piece of metal that really was not that dirty. (See Exhibit A below-which most of you will agree with me does not look dirty!)

I understand that the clean car gene is genetic. Passed from father to son. Or maybe it is not genetic but more of a nurture issue as in the nature vs. nurture debate. In this instance my boys being programmed since the time they could talk that any speck of dust on the car is a big no no and something that their father should never have to set his eyes upon. Once they started driving, it became even more ingrained because they knew the penalty for leaving their father a dirty car, was not to get the car next time.

So okay son. I get it. You have absorbed and ingrained the clean car thing from your dad.

Now absorb and ingrain this from your mother. If you ever want me to do your laundry again, you will learn to say hi to me before asking about the car.

A kiss, hug and hi for your mom come before washing the car. Which you really did not have to do 3 minutes after we got home when you were so pooped you couldn't keep you eyes open.

Honestly, showing your mom some love trumps a clean car. And some days I think your father even agrees with me on that point. *wink wink hun, I know you love me more than your car*

Susie @NewDayNewLesson

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Communication breakdown

So the Queenager, who rarely goes out (too much homework), decided to hit downtown Chicago last night. We live about 1.5 miles from where she would be, and she was with a group of nice kids, seeing a movie. (And she's 17, therefore old enough etc. etc.)

Sometimes however the communication goes a little awry. How many times a day do I find myself thanking heaven for cell phones. What did our parents do without them, etc.etc? Not worry quite so much I would think.

So she kept texting me, which irritates the Ball & Chain for some reason. "Why can't she just use the phone instead of making us text?:" So I called her phone, which of course bounced into voicemail even though she had just texted me. Actually it bouncced into a message saying that the voicemail hadn't been set up, which was even more annoying.

Atfer about fifteen minutes of me texting things like "U need to come home" and her telling me that they were looking for something to eat (at 11pm), she got the message. With no idea which bus to get, and where the stops were, I finally managed to get her to call me. I told her where to go (for about the 10th time) and said to call us when the bus was approaching the stop. On no account was she to walk home on her own.

She dutifully texted about 20 minutes later (WTF?) ' Almost at bus stop", so I sent the Ball & Chain out into the rain with new dog to wait for her.

Then I got another text - "J's mom is driving me home as the bus takes too long". What?

I quickly replied "Dad is already at the bus stop, where are you". I mean "U"?"

"In J's car".

So I rang the B&C (thank heavens for cell phones) and we aborted that plan. She knew she was in the bad books when she came in.

Turns out that when she texted about getting near the bus stop, she meant she was getting near the one down town. I.E. not actually on the bus at all.

Give me strength.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Subliminal control

I'm playing a funny trick on my teenagers at the moment. Well, I think it's funny anyway, and they don't have a clue.

It all started when I was raking through the Queenager's closet. It looks like she has a lot of clothes but many of them are about three or four years old, and teenage girls grow quite a bit over that duration. So, after culling the teeny tiny stuff, I re-hung everything else, tops and shirts on the top hanging rod and jackets and jeans on the bottom. Next morning, she came down to breakfast wearing the shirt that I'd placed at the very front. Most of the time she wears jeans and whatever top is clean (jeans have to be skin tight and ragged, if at all possible -she's no slouch.) However, I didn't realise just how "unbothered" she really is.

I then turned my attention to the man-child, who also wears whatever he can find - whether it's clean or not. Sure enough, the t-shirt that I placed on the top in his drawer was the one he came down in the next morning.  I've been having a nice little game this week and they are indeed wearing the first thing that comes to hand.

Question is - how can I turn this subliminal control to my advantage? I need ideas about how to

- get them to eat their vegetables
- pick their dirty clothes off the floor
- hang up their coats when they come in
- not borrow my stuff without asking
- put my stuff back when they've finished with it
- use their inside voices

...and so on.

Just think how different life would be......

Expat Mum

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Cynicism of youth

I have been following Family affairs and other matters as she is 'holed' up in sunny Dubai with her two youngest children following a super short easter break in Australia, as  a result of the chaos created by the eruptions of  Eyjafjallajokull. Get your tongue around that l dare you!

Inconvenient on many levels, as her son is home alone due for surgery tomorrow, her father readmitted to hospital unwell and an ill friend also admitted. Her ex boyfriend, Builder bloke has offered to drive out to rescue her in a 3,000 mile journey. I'm sure the offer now looks very attractive. Perhaps he is her knight in shining armour after all. Meantime her ex-husband is waist deep in fluffy clouds of remarriage plans, crazily to her Builder blokes ex. No kidding this is the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster or at the very least a reality show!

But l have assured her to be calm in the face of health and safety, her health and your safety, never has the word been more purposefully used...

Of course my son and his teen mates, ponder that this is a conspiracy by MI5 to '...distract us from the election and other stuff that they are working on...'

so where is this innocence of youth ? sigh..

best wishes and positive thoughts to you Lu!!

Monday, 12 April 2010

My Son Is A Teenage Soldier

My son is a teenage soldier.

I mean that.


My 19 year old son is a soldier and he has been for almost 9 months. In the seconds after he was born, the first thought that entered my head was darn, in 18 years he is going to be drafted.

I had been so sure that he was going to be a girl. Back when I was pregnant, (you know in the middle ages), there were no routine pregnancy scans. I had one at 6 months when I was so fat that they thought it was twins, but my baby was shy and the sonographer told me she couldn't tell the baby's sex. I took that to be a sign that it was going to be a girl.

If I am honest, I was a bit crushed when I gave birth and they told me it was a boy. All that was going through my head was that I knew we were moving to Israel and Israel still has mandatory draft. My baby was going to be a soldier in 18 years.

It ended up being a little closer to 19 years. Now my first born is a soldier.

So how does your mind adjust to the fact that your teen is now a gun toting soldier, out there protecting you and your country during the night while you sleep soundly?

Well for one, you don't sleep quite as soundly.

Living in Israel, kids grow up faster. Maybe it is the suicide bombings, the threat of war, or maybe just the fact that at the age of 18 or 19 you get a rifle thrust into your hands. It makes you grow up fast.

But they are still teens. Men Boys trying to find themselves and adjust to something so different than what they are used to. Trying to learn the ropes and find out where they fit in. They are stretched to their physical and emotional limits. They have their high points and they have their breakdowns.

And they still need their parents. They need their mothers to teach them that their gun cleaning brush is not their boot cleaning brush.
(Yes that was what my son used the first time he polished his combat boots. He didn't know what it was for. Good thing his mother was around.)

They need their mother to iron their uniforms and do their smelly laundry. They need to hear their parents' voices at least a few times a week.

They need their mother to help them keep from getting arrested because they left their beret at the base and only realized the next morning on the way back to the base that it wasn't on them. Yup-that also happened to my son. I had to walk over to one of the outside guards, explain the situation and point out that there was military police at the gate and that my son would be arrested for coming back without his beret. Thankfully mother's charm worked and the guy radioed the guard at the exit gate to let my son in. Mother to the rescue.

So although my son is 19 and a soldier, he is still a teen and still needs and loves his mother and father. Maybe he even appreciates us just a little but more now.

I know how much we appreciate and miss him.

Susie from

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Door

I have a lot of conversations with the Door. The Door in question is the gateway to He-mans' empire. The Door remains permanently shut. It is often slammed and is rarely open. It is like a gateway to another world. I have to knock at said door and ask for entry. Some times the Door replies " urg".

I also ask the Door some of these questions ( but clearly not all at the same time?)
" are you up yet? you are going to be late for school "

Door Reponse " Arg"

" Tea's ready"
" humpfh"

" Shall we do a revision timetable together ?"
" F*ck Sh*te"

" Your clothes are on the floor outside the Door"
" We're going out -see you later "
" pfft"

" I'm going to the supermarket, do you need anything?"
" lynx and cereal"... "Please"
" I need to come in to change your bedding "
It's a very nice door. It shields me from smells, teenage harumping, unsavoury acts, the fact that the only light on this room is the glow form the TV or PS3 and the general mess that is the domain of a teenage boy. I did toy with publishing photos of his many dirty undercrackers scattered where they fell but thought that might have been going to far.

I will miss this Door when we move later this month. I wonder if the Door will be as friendly(?) at the next place? Although given that He-man will be ensconced in the Loft room I think my relationship will now be with the staircase. Hello staircase.....


* many thanks to our newest MMM contributor Kate at Two teens, a dog and me

Friday, 9 April 2010

How will he cope without me?

Tomorrow my lovely 14 year old son will leave me for a whole week. His first trip abroad without us, skiing with the school in Italy.

The conversations I have had lately with him are inevitably one-sided as I fret constantly about how he will manage without me there to cajole and nag.

This week I have mostly been saying:

"Remember to change your pants every day."
"Don't mix up the dirty and clean clothes."
"Eat up all your food, you'll need your energy."
"Brush your teeth...properly"
"Get plenty of sleep"
"Look after your money: keep your wallet hidden"
"Don't spend all your euros on rubbish."
"Make sure you use plenty of sun block"
"Is your iPod charged?"
"Have you got your camera?"
"Text me every day"
"Don't just text back 'ok' if I text you."
"Listen to the teachers"
"Listen to the ski instructor"
"Don't mess about on the slopes"
"Don't take your helmet off"
"Make sure you keep warm"

To all of this I have mostly been receiving the following replies:

"I'll be okay"
"Stop fussing"

This is going to be a very long week and I will miss him so much. I'm sure he will manage fine. It's me I'm worried about....

Trish @ Mum's Gone To...