Tag Archives: The Teenager

Goodbye, I’ll Miss You

mastersLast week, after two years hard graft, I handed in my dissertation.

As I pressed the ‘send’ button, I expected to be flooded with euphoria.

I envisaged cracking open the Champers, unwrapping a bar of Dairy Milk and viewing my cleared desk with bliss.

Reader, I cried.

I felt bereft. I couldn’t bear to leave my desk. My books were neatly back in their shelves, mounds of paper shredded or filed. I had a fresh page on my notepad. The scribbled ramblings I had wasabi-taped to my walls were in the recycling bin,.

All evening I wandered around the house, sadly picking up my stapler, stroking it and putting it back in its place. I opened a book about critical thinking skills for old times sake. I rearranged my Sharpie pens in their pot, light colours to the front.

What was going on?

The Masters has been a cruel mistress, luring me in then kicking me in the guts, leaving me anxiety-ridden and confused. At other times, I would be in seventh heaven when I manged to string a couple of sentences together that actually made sense. Many a conversation with The Teenager would be interrupted with me suddenly saying, ‘hang on, an absolutely genius point has just popped into my head, gimme a bit of paper.’

I struggled to write academically, my sentences more often than not beginning with, ‘I think my work is good and getting better’. Whole days, weeks would go by when I wrote nothing and every time I walked past the papers on my desk, I would sigh.

In the week since I pressed that button, I’m lost. I’m binge-watching trashy shows, reading trashy novels and eating trashy comfort food. I feel weird. I don’t miss the anxiety and I do feel chuffed I finished it. I just … miss it. I guess it’s because I nurtured it from nothing into something I’m proud of, despite the lack of long words and sentences.

The Teenager, my eternal sage, put it bluntly yesterday: ‘Are you sure you wanna do a PhD? Not sure I can handle it. Did you get the chicken nuggets in yesterday? I’m starving.’

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Food For Thought

chickenMe and The Teenager try to go out for a meal every couple of weeks.

It’s a chance to catch up, do some mom-and-son bonding and generally put the world to rights.

So yesterday, armed with a 40% off voucher, we headed to our local Harvester.

Not the most glamorous of locations but it suited The Teenager down to the ground, given he’s on a training programme for which he wolfs down 5,000 calories a day (he has an app, he counts them).

I probably eat the same amount, minus the high intensity exercise, but at least we have something in common.

Anyway, we settled down in a booth and read over the wipe-clean menu. I checked out the low-calorie options, dismissing them quickly. A burger. With fries and a huge dollop of mayo. Sorted.

I asked The Teenager what he fancied.

He looked up from the menu, snapped it shut and yelled,

‘Chicken! A whole chicken!’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah. And some ribs as a side. Just the little ones. I’m not, like, greedy. Check out my pecs mum!’

He flexed his muscles for me to admire, tapped his stats into his apps and wandered off to the salad bar, bringing back five rolls. He ate them and went back for five more.

I played with my diced beetroot and grated carrots.

Our meals arrived and he duly took a photo and uploaded it to social media before tucking in.

‘So’, I began, ‘how’s the studying going?’

‘Can’t talk. Eating.’

‘Ah. Chicken looks nice dear.’

Within five minutes, there was a plate of bones in front of him. He scooted off to refill his free refill glass for the fourth time.

‘So. How’s the studying going?’

‘Good, ta.’

‘I was thinking about trying that fasting diet. You know, to shift the pounds. What do you think? You’re the weight-loss expert.’

‘Mum. No. No way.’

‘Why not?’

‘Ok, so you take in 500 calories. You’ve got no energy. But ….’ He paused. ‘Like, d’uh, you have MS? Bit stupid, no?’

‘Ah, I see. Good point.’

‘Mum, you know when I’m a millionaire and I buy you a house, or a big shed, and I go round the world and stuff?’

‘Erm, yup?’

‘Well, I’ve worked out how to do it.’

Silicon Valley? Inventor? Rugby player?’

‘I’m going to become a … competitive eater.’

‘Right.’

‘You know, there’s loads of people on YouTube. They make a fortune. Did you see how fast I ate that chicken? Did you?’

‘Well, yes?’

‘Google it. There’s a restaurant near us. Going to start there.’

I googled it. There’s just one problem.

‘It says here you’ve got to eat everything, everything, including all the lettuce, tomato and onions. Lol.’

‘Mum, don’t say lol.’

‘You don’t eat salad? Bae.’

‘Mum, don’t say bae. Or peng or dench.’

‘Just saying. Groovy.’

‘Mum, I feel a bit ill. I need to get home before my stomach explodes.’

We left. He groaned in the car all the way home.

Until next time …

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Is The Hurt Worth It?

wallThe Teenager found out that his dad has spent the New Year in America.

Today. Two days later.

I only heard this from The Teenager through texts. His dad has yet to call me to explain his change in circumstances – which, if social media is to believed, goes back months and may involve a permanent move.

It takes two parents to raise a child, no matter what the circumstances. Right?

Our house is furnished entirely from Gumtree bargains and cast-offs. The goodwill of friends have enabled me to paint my kitchen and given me my bed. And The Teenager’s.

For the last 17 years, planning my working day has taken on Herculean proportions; lists, more lists and bagfuls of stuff. Even working in a low-paid, dead-end job meant endless mornings of rousing The Teenager at 5.30 am and taking him to my mum’s house, handing over his school uniform and a sleepy child.

Working with a child meant low paid jobs and always being available for the latest crisis – nits, bullying, Parents Evening as the perennial lone parent. This is precisely why I took on low paid work. There was no alternative.

Meanwhile, The Teenager’s father, unencumbered with childcare, or indeed raising a child, rose swiftly through his chosen profession. The Teenager’s room at his house in London wasn’t his room, it was a spare room, his toys pushed away under the bed in plastic boxes between visits.

And now, while I have been renting a cottage for 12 years (after spending the first four years of The Teenager’s life in penury at my mother’s house) and hoping for continuity for The Teenager, I learn that not only does his father own a flat in London, and has built a house in the Carribean, he has also made plans to move to America.

I used to ignore the blinding obvious. We both stood up in court – me having fled with our son, aged 10 months. I left the house. Big mistake. He had a brilliant barrister. But it was only later I found out just how big a mistake this was.

What can I say to The Teenager? Simply, the truth, no matter how much money, no matter which exotic locations, the absolute joy of bringing him up will always usurp that. I am blessed. Me and The Teenager have been through turbulent times, but we have always got through them with love and support.

For me, that is priceless and beyond compare. I remember telling The Teenager’s father I had been diagnosed with MS, four years ago. He swore he would help out more, be there through the hard Campath times.

You guessed it, it didn’t happen, if anything, contact has became even more sporadic, until it’s petered out to nothing.

Despite it all. The upset. The rage. My focus is upon The Teenager.

It has always been and always will be.

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New Year, Same Old?

awesomeYep, it’s that time of the year again when I take a notepad and scribble down some resolutions.

Looking back at the ones I’ve made over the years, I might as well just chuck my list in the bin; I still haven’t mastered the art of cooking rice and I haven’t learned how to play the guitar. I’m still single, still fat and still trying to work out what I want to do when I grow up.

Despite all this, I’m going to make some resolutions anyway just for the sheer novelty factor:

  • Experiment with wearing black clothes (slimming) and quirky jewellery (interesting).
  • Borrow my friend’s dog – exercise (gah) but a chance of bumping into a nice single man (note to self, must not be carrying a bag of dog poo).
  • Host dinner parties – with only three kitchen chairs. Perhaps supper parties? Or just skip the food and make some killer cocktails instead? Good chance to showcase black tops and big bead-y jewellery?
  • Come up with a book club choice my book club actually enjoys.
  • Be brave enough to take my laptop to the local arts cafe to work on My Novel, even though it’s not a Mac. Could be awkward. Maybe wear a big hat and dark glasses.
  • Give up any hope of becoming a poet.
  • Buy one of those big eye-shadow palettes and learn how to use it.

Hmm.

Maybe I should concentrate on what I’m grateful for, rather than my shortcomings. I may always be fat. And single. And I may never come up with a book-club-pleasing title. I might never get in to black clothes (I have a cat, she has fur).

So what do I have? A huge amount:

  • A brilliant, funny, intrepid Teenager.
  • A weird, funny cat.
  • A healthy appetite for life and all it has to offer.
  • A fantastic support network – thank you a million times.

As we put the horrendous year that has been 2016 behind us, I’m looking forward, not back.

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That’s Dinner Sorted …

dinnerMe and The Teenager were having one of our Kitchen Katch-Ups the other day.

Generally speaking, if I hang out long enough in the kitchen, The Teenager will make an appearance, rummage through the fridge and continue a conversation he may have started a couple of days previously:

‘… and, you know, muvver, it’s fine.’

‘Er, what is?’

He pauses to measure out an exact amount of Shredded Wheat into a bowl, then an exact amount of milk, as dictated by his gym routine plan. Then gulps the whole thing down in three mouthfuls.

‘You know, when you get old? Like, say, 50?’

‘Right. And what’s going to happen then?’

‘I’ll build you a shed?’

‘I don’t need a shed?’

‘D’urrr. Like, a shed at my house? In the garden? You can stay there.’

‘When I’m 50?’

‘Yeah? But, like, if I’m rich and famous, you can have a flat.’

‘Oh, ok then. Thank you. But you know, I’ll probably be just fine at 50. But, um, thanks for thinking of me sweets. Very kind. Anyway, Christmas dinner. We need to decide what we’re having.’

I was poised ready with my pen, trying to shake off images of me trapped in a shed at the grand old age of 50.

‘How about I choose this year?’

‘I really don’t want a strawberry protein shake.’

‘Lol, muvver. You’re funny. I wouldn’t do that to you at Christmas.’

‘What do you fancy then? Turkey? Lamb?’

‘Can I choose? Anything in the world? A day off from my Buff Body Routine?’

‘Um, ok.’

He did.

And so it has come to pass; we will be tucking into Chicago Town pepperoni pizzas, curly fries and garlic dough balls.

I kid you not.

After getting over my initial horror, I thought, ‘Well, Why Not?’ It’ll just be the two of us, we’ve both already had our fill of turkey and we get to do exactly what we want. He’s chosen the food, I’ll choose the telly. And have first dibs on the chocolates, natch.

That sorted, The Teenager continued to rifle the cupboards and sigh loudly. ‘About your shed …’

‘No more talking about sheds. How’s school?’

‘S’fine.’

‘Studying?’

‘S’fine.’

‘You know where I am if you need me, sweets.’

‘Yep. Mum?’

I was braced for the worst. Or worse than pizza on Christmas Day.

He gathered together another bowl of cereal, balanced it in his hand, made to leave the kitchen and said, ‘You’re a great mum, you know. I love you.’

And with that, before I could reply, he had scooted upstairs.

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