Our tranquil little cottage has become a battleground, with neither me nor The Teenager willing to give way. There have been tears, sulks and door slamming and I’ve apologised to the neighbours who rolled their eyes and said, ‘Teenagers, eh?’ in sympathetic tones.
He’s even attempted a hunger strike but lasted only until I stocked the fridge with his favourite Müller yoghurts and waved a pizza under his nose.
The cause of all this conflict? His school is adopting a new uniform policy as of September. From the age of four, The Teenager has gone to school in some variation of a polo top and school jumper. Now his high school want to have a smarter uniform so the kids no longer look like over-grown infants and I’m all for it. We got the final uniform list a couple of days ago and he remains distinctly unimpressed.
‘Oh, lovely, you have to wear a blazer!’
‘Yeah, with, like, gold piping. I’m not a girl. I’m not wearing it. They can’t make me. It’s like, rank.’
‘But they wear them in Waterloo Road. Very smart.’
‘Yeah, whatever. Still not wearing it. It’s against my yooman rights’
‘Well, look, you get a nice tie as well! Very grown up. Why’s it a clip on one though? What’s wrong with a proper one?’
‘Like, duh, it’s so we don’t strangle each other. Elf ‘n’ safety, innit?’
And so we go round in circles. He’s trying to organise a boycott for September, but few of his friends are brave/daft enough to join him. The uniform is due to land in the shops within the next couple of weeks and he’s coming with me whether he likes it or not. This may involve an after-school swoop, where I thrust a packet of crisps into his hand, bundle him into the car and lock the doors from the inside.
I have tried to reason with him, but as soon as I started a conversation with the words, ‘when I was your age….’ he huffed and puffed, stomped upstairs and blasted his music out (Oasis, full volume, same two songs in an endless loop).
I will win this argument but the next battle will be trying to take his photograph in his brand new shiny uniform on the first day of Year 10, minus the rude gestures. And there was me thinking the toddler years were the worst.