The poltergeist

My teenager (one of them) is a poltergeist.

Mainly invisible, his presence is only made known by the movement and disappearance of items in the kitchen, a damp towel on the floor and by following the occasional screams from his siblings.

He shuns the light, preferring to live as a denizen of the darkness, rising at night to pilfer snacks and stomp through the house. Sometimes, you may hear the dulcet tones of YouTube, the clacking of a keyboard or the chiming of a WhatsApp notification.

I can only laugh. I was exactly the same. Teenage angst was my middle name. I lived entirely in my room, playing melodramatic, soul searching music and reading Nietsche (why?).

I haunted my home like a wraith, stopping to only to drop pearls of wisdom in front of the ignorant swine that were my parents. (Sorry, parents, but it’s just a metaphor).

They could never understand the depth of emotion that I was feeling, how put upon by the world I was and how it was impossible for them to ever plumb the depths of the trauma of being such a spiritually enlightened teenager.

Now, I erupt in gales of laughter with my long-suffering parents over my utter self-indulgence, but it’s all part of being a teenager.

So, I’ll let him sleep and dwell on the deep existential questions of his time. I’ll stock up on snacks and feed him on demand. Periodically, like some hothouse plant, I’ll drag him into the sunlight and open the curtains of his room.

One day he will emerge like a butterfly and hopefully not as a twinkly vampire with illusions of grandeur.

In all honesty, I’m quiet enjoying it. It makes a difference from his younger years when I was unable to pee by myself.

Of course, these days, the only downside is that his poltergeist senses can sniff out a hidden chocolate bar like a beagle can a fox.


The end of the world

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Bring a teenager sucks. I’m not old that I can’t remember it – the existential angst, the belief that the world revolved around you and that everything was deeply unfair and designed to thwart you at every turn.

Honestly, how my parents didn’t abandoned my self-absorbed ass on a pavement I still don’t comprehend. I suppose it really is proof of their love for me.

I’m in a bit of a fix you see…

My son and I were supposed to jet off for a mini-break this weekend so he could visit his BFF and I could wander down memory lane. That was until his sports coach gave birth to several litters of kittens this morning. And I can’t blame him.

I really thought we’d be okay. I thought we’d maybe miss one training session, but rowing season is heading for the Grande Finale and him going on a jaunt this weekend would blow his chances of being in the A boat.

Now, I have to face going home to tell him that we’re postponing our trip. It’s actually a good idea, this weekend would have been crazy and if we go in a few weeks we can stay a little longer and he can actually spend time with his best bud.

Still, I know the look on his face will drive daggers through my heart.

Being rationale is not a symptom of being a teenager.

I pondered giving him a choice, but the truth is, I know the choice he’d make would be the wrong one.

Many moons ago I did ballet. I loved it. I was good at it. Then one sunny day I told my mother I wanted to hang out at a friend’s house. She gave me the choice to see my friend and say cheers to ballet or go to ballet. I chose my friend and have regretted it ever since.

The level of competition in school boy sport has become all encompassing. I don’t know how these kids cope. I struggle through a deadline driven 8-hour a day job and he’s up at 5am and crashing in exhaustion at 10:30pm every single day.

I tried to explain that a year may seem endless right now, but by the time he hits 40, will be a blink of an eye.

That the guy climbing Everest has times when he doubts every choice that led him there. When he wants to give up and go home. When he’s cold and hungry and tired. Even when he’s scared. And many do. They go home. But the ones that carry on trudging step by step make it to the most beautiful view on the world and accomplish something intangibly powerful.

I want him to find that hard-headed stubbornness and push on through, but at the same time I want to hold him close and make it all better.

I suppose that’s what being a parent is all about – loving them enough to know when to make unpopular decisions for their greater good. I know he’ll only understand many years from now and that for the foreseeable future I’ll be persona non grata.

So for right now, I’ll just offer some silent gratitude to my parents for the unpopular decisions, for the times I ranted and raged, for giving me choices and consequences and for loving me despite everything.







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