Friday, 27 January 2012

Totally In Control, Totally ...

Nobody takes me seriously anymore. Though when I say nobody I don't mean strangers in the street point at me and hoot with derision when I walk past... well, not often anyway. No, I mean the children, My Children.

Once upon a time I used to have some kind of authority, an element of control. I used to be able to administer discipline with a raised eyebrow and a meaningful look. I had a particular tone of voice that could freeze a child's blood from 100 metres away. Not any more.

(I'm not)

I'd like to say I don't know what happened, but sadly I do. I had the Teen Twins in 1995, The Third Girl in 2001 and The Small Boy in 2006 ... five years between each of them. That's not important or significant in itself, no planning was involved at any stage.

But it does mean that sitting around the dinner table of an evening trying to convince The Small Boy there IS more to life (and food) than ketchup is accompanied by a continual commentary from the rest of the table.... helpful remarks, the odd joke, sniggering, a discussion on the merits of ketchup versus all other known food stuff, the tricky subject of mayonnaise versus salad cream (which can be devisive in itself), some giggling, the odd guffaw. And, to be frank, it's hard to maintain a grasp of a situation with a constant barrage of criticism, opinion and, let's be honest, disdainful laughter in your ear.

To be fair to The Small Boy too, it's hard to concentrate on what you SHOULD be doing when what you ARE doing is clearly creating entertainment for the rest of the room. No doubt he won't be able to eat a meal without the addition of ketchup and an audience until he's 42. *Sigh.*

And that's not all. Attempts to encourage a sensible bedtime routine for The Small Boy are generally scuppered by a 16-year-old firmly believing a thumping rock beat from the room next door is an excellent lullaby or a ten-year-old with a desperate desire to for an impromptu treasure hunt. *Deep sigh*

And sometimes The Small Boy can be a little bugger quite naughty but try to tell him off in front of the rest of the brood? As if. They smirk at him, he smirks at them. I might as well stand on an empty beach and tell the sea off for being big, blue and wet.

I would take up shouting with a megaphone REALLY LOUD but I know it wouldn't do any good because I can't be heard over the thumping rock beat OR the cackling OR the sudden clang of the children as they pull together ... And one of them WILL turn around and say something like: "Muuuum, what ARE you doing?"

And then they will do that look that they do, THAT look that only a teenager can pull off with the right amount of sneer ... the one the ten-year-old has already learned, the one they are already teaching to The Small Boy - the pitying one.
*Deep, deep sigh*

*Hides in cellar until they all leave home.*

Monday, 23 January 2012

The F (And The P And The B) Word

FARTS and POO and BOTTOMS..... Clearly the three most hilarious things in the WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD ......... At least for The Small Boy.

Over recent weeks he has slowly, inexorably turned into a mini Bernard Manning with a fully-fledged repertoire of toilet-based humour that reduces him to paroxysms of gurgling delight while the rest of the family stand by bewildered and, let's be honest, slightly worried.

This sudden fascination with his and other's (everybody's *sigh*) bodily functions I am TOTALLY blaming on the influence on his school friends OBVIOUSLY. Not least because he uses the word "fart" (a lot) when, in this house, IF we discuss the act of breaking wind at all we call it a "trump" thank you very much.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Questioning Times Pt 2: Tories and Teenagers .. The Soft Sell.

So.....  I crash-coursed Teen Twin2 through Basic Politics and who's who in parliament - "This one with the insincere smile and the look of a lizard is The Prime Minister" etc - in preparation for her meeting Baroness Sayeeda Warsi who was visiting The Academy to talk to a specially selected group of pupils on Friday.

And, by happy chance, the Baroness was one of the guests on Question Time on Thursday night so we watched it together but ONLY after Teen Twin2 had made me sit through a whole episode of Celebrity Big Brother *sighs.* 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Questioning Times ...

Today Teen Twin2 came home with the momentous news that she has been selected to attend a meeting with a V.I.P visitor to The Academy.

She has been selected specifically because The Academy thinks she shows an aptitude to go on to study law or politics which came as a bit of a shock to both of us to be honest. Her knowledge of the law is limited to what a 16 year old is legally able to do ... buy a lottery ticket, drive a tractor, get a tattoo with parental consent etc.

As for politics? Well, she thinks David Cameron and Gordon Brown have nice smiles, Ed Milliband looks like Wallace (of Gromit fame) and I'm not sure she knows who Nick Clegg is. So if you're looking for quick political insight, I really wouldn't consider asking Teen Twin2 first.

Nevertheless a special invitation is a special invitation and to be one of only 20 or so pupils chosen to meet with the V.I.P made me proud even if it left her completely non-plussed.

"Who is this V.I.P?" I asked.

"Er, dunno," she said, "Baroness Somebody, er Varsey."

"Warsi," I hooted excitedly, "Baroness Warsi."

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is, of course, co-chairman of the Conservative Party, minister without portfolio and recently appointed, by Cameron, as an "unofficial envoy" to troubled Pakistan. She is a powerful woman in politics and right there at the top. Who wouldn't relish the opportunity to meet her and question her politics and the Tory's current policies? *Rolls up sleeves, rubs hands together*

But no.

Teen Twin2 and her carefully selected Year 11 and 10 cohorts have been asked to prepare a question to ask Baroness Warsi in advance which will be submitted to "her people" and approved before anyone is allowed to ask anything at all.

I WAS reaching for my pen when she then told me that the questions they submitted were "not allowed" to mention the cost of a University education or where the Conservatives are failing or even make suggestions where they might do better.

"Basically," said Teen Twin2, "We're not allowed to talk about politics at all."

I am crushed. For a brief moment I was in full Question Time mode and my dreams were snatched away, even if they were going to be stunt-doubled by Teen Twin2. *Sigh*

Despite my own personal devastating disappointment, I am troubled about what this meeting with a V.I.P is supposed to achieve. So pupils are given the opportunity to meet a strong and powerful figure in the political world, but The Academy or/and Baroness Warsi and "her people" will not allow them to embark on any kind of political debate with her. At all. So what.

And who is worried about what in that situation I wonder? Baroness Warsi has been pelted with eggs by Islamic extremists, humiliated the BNP leader Nick Griffin on Question Time and survived an expenses controversy. Why would she refuse to discuss current policies with a bunch of 15 and 16 years olds? She might even learn something. *Tuts in disgust*

Anyway, Teen Twin2 remains resolutely unmoved by the entire procedure and still has to submit a non-political, non-controversial, basically non question tomorrow morning. She'd like me to think of one because, well, she can't be bothered and really I can't blame her.

*Puts thinking cap on, chews pencil, wonders what Baroness Warsi's favourite colour is*

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

When Is A Twin Not Just A Twin ...

When she's a twin, of course. *Sigh.*

I'm glad I'm not a twin, it looks like hard work. At least in my house it does. 

The Teen Twins shared the womb and since then have shared a bedroom. For several years the 16 minutes between the birth of Twin One and the arrival of Twin Two was the longest time they'd ever spent apart.

They were in the same class together at infants and junior schools and consequently shared the same friends. When at 11, they were separated into different classes at secondary school I thought they might make their own friendships. And they did, then all the friends joined into one big group anyway and so they still socialise together, get invited to the same parties, same cinema outings and shopping trips together.

They might do everything together -yes, even going to the bathroom sometimes *eye-roll* - but they are individual people. Non-identical, they're alike enough to confuse strangers, the unobservant and elderly relatives but their personalities are very much all their own work. 

Effectively they spend more time with each other than even the most devoted and loving of couples could spend together without feeling the need to scream out loud. And some (most) of that time they don't even like each other very much.

There is nothing in all the known world that can be more bitchy, hurtful and manipulative to each other than a pair of sixteen-year-old twin girls because they KNOW exactly where to wound and just how deep to stick the (metaphorical) knife. You don't need an embarrassing mother (and I'm excellent at Embarrassing Mother) to dig out the naked baby photos and tell all about the scraggy teddy you can't bear to sleep without when you have a twin and that twin is right there with you EVERYWHERE YOU GO.

But I must say, they're very fair. They do take it in turns to be mindlessly awful to each other.

I'm only glad that, after an optimistic Year7 tried to date both twins one after the other, I "advised" that they had one rule they kept between the pair of them: That they would never date each other's boyfriends. Boys have tried and boys have failed and generally been made to feel a right royal idiot to even think that one twin would go out with the other twin's cast-offs. AS IF.

And if at times the house seems to be the centre point of a hormonal armaggedon, there are other times when, if they are parted for any length of time, one forlorn adolescent will wistfully wonder how long her other half might be and what she might be doing all the while drooping around the house like a plant without a pot.

And woe-betide the unwary and unwise who might just mention that they might, all things considered, LIKE a rest from each other just once in a while for you risk the Stare of a Thousand Daggers.
*Learns never to do that again.*

Twins kissing

Thursday, 12 January 2012

How To Be A Good Mother

I watched 'How To Be A Good Mother with Sharon Horgan' - on Channel Four (Wednesday)  -  and just 20 minutes in, I was chewing the carpet and spitting feathers while smoking cigars, drinking brandy and swearing. I contemplated waking the children and letting them join in.

Surely the real measure of how good a mother you are is when your children are not children anymore and seeing which self-help group they join.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Prom Diaries, Part 2

We got a letter from The Academy today. We don't often get letters from The Academy as the staff prefer to communicate with parents through the foolproof (not) method of Telling The Pupils Things in Assembly, so we knew this one was of great importance and/or asking for money.

And it was both - it was THE letter about the Prom *fanfare.*

Sunday, 8 January 2012

There's One Born Every Minute ...

This week I watched the glorious weep-fest that is One Born Every Minute which started a new series on Channel Four.

I was ALLOWED to watch it with the minimum of teenage tutting and man-panicking because one of the midwives appearing in the programme is my cousin's daughter. This practically makes me a friend to the stars and so viewing is tolerated under the strict proviso I don't get, in any way, ever, even in the slightest, little bit, AT ALL, broody.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Prom Diaries, Part 1

I am not a fan of Americana and that's PROBABLY the best - and most diplomatic - way of putting it. Just one part of this antipathy is our (the UK's) eagerness to adopt American traditions as our own

Trick or Treat might be an adventurous wonderland of fancy dress, excitement, real wild times and free candy in the Good Ole US of A, but it is EXCRUCIATING on the streets of Yorkshire where handing out free sweets to winsome children is more likely to result in an arrest than a celebration of a national holiday.

And The Prom? THE PROM ... what on earth possessed us to transport that event into our lives. WHY? FOR GOD'S SAKE, WHY? 

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