Category Archives: The Teenager

How We Live Today

how-we-live-todayPeople say the strangest things when you first have a serious illness.

Haven’t we all been promised the earth by those who matter (I’ll be there, just ask). And the moon and sun.

It must be bad?

However, with The Teenager having limited contact with his dad this year (not my choice), raising him has been tough at times, but infinitely rewarding.

Since MS crashed into our lives in 2011, we’ve both altered our perceptions immeasurably. Gone were the  days when I was the parent who did everything. I now needed help.

Thankfully, my friends were on hand. We got through that dreadful time and came through the other side older and wiser.

And now The Teenager is on the threshold of 18.

As in common with any parent of a teenager, I am still failing. Of course. And he has had more than his fair share of challenges – as the single child of a single parent with a serious illness, he has had no one to share the long evenings (and my MS) with. If you don’t count the yells coming from his bedroom, when he has ten kids in there, all playing the same game.

I’ve been reduced to a cash-dispenser and provider of food. And that’s fine. It’s not the fish fingers that worry me, it’s the MS symptoms and how to work them around an Exploring Teenager.

Fatigue. A problem. Before sixth form, I set an alarm, dossing on the sofa and waking up in time for him to come back from school. It’s not so easy now he’s doing his A Levels. He returns at odd hours, shocked at me sleeping.

Nerve pain. A problem. I’m useless after 5pm. I walk funny. I could be seen as embarrassing.

Speech. My very first symptom. I still get tangled up in English when I’m tired, speaking a mish-mash of languages, the hangover of being tri-lingual.

So how do we live now? Precariously. We are forever on watch for the next relapse. I work, study and look after our house and The Teenager. I am trying my very best but the best is often not enough.

I remember saying, back in 2011, that all I wanted was to get The Teenager to University.

I might just manage it.

Tagged , , , ,

Back In The Saddle …

nuggetThe Teenager is back from his last ever school trip, a half-term jaunt to Washington.

Luckily for him, it coincided with my horrendous cold/semi-flu/downright miserable symptoms, so he got away lightly.

After six days of peace and a strange sense of calm at home, he arrived back on Thursday.

Long story short, they really should tear up the alphabet and name the next big hurricane after him – Hurricane Christopher, Extra Strength.

Chaos reigned once more, the bathroom sink was quickly defiled by toothpaste stains, the laundry basket was protesting. The fridge was stripped bare and The Teenager stalked our tiny cottage, bewailing a dire lack of protein.

Life was back to normal.

A couple of days have now passed and it’s like riding a bike – I’m once more used to the texts he sends, despite us being 7 or so metres apart:

‘Hellloooooooo moooommmmaaaa – beans on toast with extra cheese, ta. Love you. xx.’

‘Can I have a tenner for tomorrow? All my friends do. Party.’

‘How many chicken nuggets are in the freezer?’

From my Sofa Command Centre, I fire back replies:

‘Oh, really?’



Come stand-off, he normally treads downstairs and ruffles my hair in a semi-ironic fashion and calls me ‘Mom’ in a fake American accent. It usually works.

In the meantime, I have been feeling very sorry for myself, laying semi-comatose on my sofa. My head has been hammering and I’ve felt like, well … ill. I hate it.

I’ve had to take six whole days off work and have been too ill to even watch Jeremy Kyle, a sure sign that I really am … ill. If I had the energy, I would kick myself. And pop out to buy some Wotsits and Aero Bubbles.

My dissertation is wobbling around my subconsciousness and I know I’m in trouble when I have to thesaurus the word, ‘however’. With the deadline looming, I’m panicking.

All the best writers wobble? And if you’re not the best, you wobble more?

Tagged , , ,

The Teenager Discovers Make-Up

halloweenThere has been much school-based concentration in our little house recently.

Not study notes or researching universities for next year. Nothing that simple.

Nope. There’s a school Hallowe-en party tonight and The Teenager has been fretting endlessly about his outfit:

‘Mum, mum, muuuum. I’m sooooo stressed.’

‘I know dear, this is one of those monumental years of your life.’

‘Like, durrrrr. Not that stuff, my costume for the party. What do I, like, go as?’

‘How about a conscientious student? I have books?’



‘Did that last year. Too much fake blood. Didn’t work.’

‘Ghost? I’ve got an old sheet. You only have to cut out two eye-holes.’

‘Then no-one gets to see my muscles, durrrr.’ Much eye-rolling.

‘I don’t know? You could go as a telly? I could make you a costume out of an old box?’

‘Muuuuum, it’s not like the old days. We have, you know, flat-screens now. I give up.’

And by that point, so had I, as I cast my mind back to when he was two years old, dressed up in the cutest pumpkin costume, complete with a little pumpkin-stalk hat.

This afternoon, after a tiring day at work, The Teenager pounced on me as soon as my key was in the lock.

‘I fed the cat, honest, and look‘ – he shoves his laptop towards me and a strange person is on the screen.

‘I’m going as an effel player. Genius!’

‘Let me just put my bag down. And, um, get in the door? Ta.’ Erm, effel? A new gaming character? Some Japanese warrior?

‘N. F. L. American football.’

I’m completely confused. Don’t they wear cage-like things over their heads and shoulders? I questioned him about this.

‘I’ll be kind of off-duty.’

‘Right. Jeans and a t-shirt then?’

Mum, I’ll wear my NFL t-shirt, black shorts, like, casual like, and carry an American football. But, I need you to do my make-up.’

I sit down with my bags.

‘Ok, show me.’

‘Two big stripes, see?’

‘So you’d have them when you’re off-duty?’

‘Muuuuuuuum. Honestly. One question, can you do them on my face? Without wibbly hands? Pleeeeaaase?’

‘Eye pencil. I’ve got loads I don’t use any more.’

‘Too right – those flicks you tried were, like, wonky.’

‘Don’t push your luck.’

He rummaged through my old make-up pencils, finally finding The One. This! Is perfect.’ He tried it on the back of his hand. ‘And a nice soft colour. I like it. Sorted. Have you got make-up remover for later?’

Tagged , , , ,

The People You Love …

ghostsThe Teenager went to Manchester at the weekend to visit a close relative who is severely ill with Parkinson’s and now living in a nursing home.

I picked him up from the train station yesterday evening and could clearly see the slump in his shoulders, his troubled face.

On the drive home, we chatted about this and that but he was mostly occupied with his phone and glugging back the drink I had brought with me.

Until, ‘Mum? Can I ask you something?’

‘Of course!’

‘Will, um, do you think, well, you could ever get like that? You know, with MS?’

I took a deep breath. ‘I really don’t think so, sweets. Look at the treatment I’ve had! It was hard this weekend?’

‘Uh huh. It was really nice to see him, but really sad. I’m scared you’ll be like that when I’m older.’

‘C’mon kiddo, you know how tough I am. Tough as a toffee!’

‘So was he.’

‘Oh, I know sweets. A really strong person and what happened to him is just awful. But he’s been ill a really long time.’

‘I’d look after you, you know.’

‘That’s so lovely of you, thank you. But you know what the most important thing is? That you get on with your life. Everything is opening up for you. I’m doing just fine, sweets. I’m working, I’ve got Uni, everything’s great. You know I don’t need to ask you for help with anything. I like looking after you.’

‘Yeah, I know, but sometimes I wish you would ask me. I feel really helpless when you’re tired or your legs are sore. I’d like to make you a cup of coffee or a glass of squash. Or something.’

My heart broke into a thousand pieces.

‘Ok, let’s make a deal. Next time I’m really, really tired and have to go to sleep in the afternoon, you can wake me up after an hour with a cup of coffee? That would help me a lot.’


After growing up with ill parents, I’ve always been determined never to turn my son into some sort of carer. The thought horrifies me. But have I gone too far the other way? Am I somehow blocking him out?

And not only this fear, but also a dear friend of his, one of his close group of friends from school, passed away from cancer on Saturday. He was 17. The Teenager is struggling with appalling grief from both ends of the spectrum, at the beginning of life, and towards the end.

It is even more vital now, that I support him. But how best to do this when his thoughts are clouded by my MS?

Tagged , , , , ,

The Sixth Form Disco …

discoThe Teenager went back to school on Tuesday, his last year at High School.

From a tiny child in a funny uniform to a very tall person armed with attitude, the school years have flown by.

I reminded him of his ‘graduation’ ceremony from nursery, aged four, complete with gown, cap and scroll. He claims not to remember and didn’t want to see the photographs. Shame really.

Anyway, we’ve bought the folders, the pens, the whiteboard, the paper.

On his first day back, I eagerly awaited an update;

‘Here, have a cookie, how’d it go?’

The Teenager rolls his eyes and swiftly examines the empty packet, plucked from the bin, and reprimands me for the amount of carbs in one single biscuit.

‘Right, have a protein shake and a banana? How’d it go?’


‘Sounds good, yeah?’

‘S’aright, s’pose. What’s for dinner?’

‘A carb-free delight. How’d it go?’

‘Mum. It was fine. S’good.’

His thumbs flew over his phone as he was speaking to me, intermittently snorting and laughing.

‘Er? Hello?’

‘Mum. I’m all growed up. S’cool. Yeah?’

‘Ok. I’ll just have one of these cookies. Maybe two.’

The week progressed and he ran down my printer ink, depleted my finances and then let me know there was a sixth form party.

‘Right. Party. At someone’s house?’ (fingers crossed)

‘Nah. Town.’

‘Ah. Right.’

‘Mum. Muuuuuum. Everyone’s going. And that girl.’

‘Huh? What girl?’

Fast forward to the evening in question. He produced shoes from nowhere (very smart, very nice), had a haircut, used up my expensive hair serum, pre-loaded himself with fragrance and sat jiggling his feet in the living room, waiting for his lift.

‘Sixth from disco, eh?’

‘Mum. Disco? It’s in a club.’


‘How’s my hair?’

‘Fab. Can I have my serum back? Ta.’

‘Erm, can we talk about girls? Like, women?’

‘Mum. I’m a cougar magnet, chill.’

I choked on my Diet Coke.


‘Joke! It’s fine. Can I have some money?’

After he left, I cast my mind back to my first ever night out in town when I was in sixth form. The ghastly little black dress, the tights, the shoes. The hair! God, the hair.

I reckon he’ll have an easier time. He’s good-looking, tall and has a fabulous mother behind him, lol. I hope he finds that girl/woman he has his eye on. And he will invite her round for coffee so I can interrogate her as to her intentions towards my son.

Joking …

Tagged , , ,