Teenage Lingo

I got a call from daughter 1: I’ve had my cartilage done. Oh god, I thought. I have no idea what you’re talking about, but it sounds bad. It’s not unusual for me to be clueless when my daughters speak, so I just repeated: your cartilage? hoping for positive enlightenment. Yeah, it didn’t even hurt, she replied. Oh good, I said, expecting to see a part of her bandaged when she walked through the door. But of course, it’s her ear. Another hole stapled through.

On the dog walk today, more teenage speak: I want to get my seconds done. Eh? I replied. My seconds done, she repeated, oblivious to her mother’s lack of fluency in this language.  Now I know that it’s a hole above her first piercing, but not in the cartilage.

Normally when I ask for clarification on their language, I’m met with exasperated sighs and: oh, don’t worry. But I do worry. I worry that if they don’t tell me I will end up as a foreigner in my own home, surrounded by teenage natives who are all fluent in their lingo. I’ll be the one shouting and flinging my arms around to make myself understood.

After all, I’ve only just found out what a ‘streak’ is and I had to google, ‘on fleek’ last week. I have to say though, that even if I teach myself their language, I won’t be using it. It makes me cringe when I hear parents adopting their teenagers’ speech. Remember, you’re not their friend, I want to say. Let’s stick to the language we know: tidy your room, pick up your towels, don’t leave your pants on the floor, 11 o clock latest, put your phone down, DON’T TALK TO ME LIKE THAT!

So for any middle agers out there, here’s a translation of a few of the words being banded about at the moment –  but please promise not to use them yourself…

PAP Post a picture
Bad ‘hot’ as in someone is looking sexy
Ship short for relationship
Dime 10 on a scale of 1-10. The best something can be

Oh, and you might want to know, that next time your daughter tells you she’s going to her friend’s house to:

Netflix and chill

Don’t bother buying her popcorn…



Daughter 2 came in to me, wielding the kitchen scissors. Let’s cut his beard off, she said, waving them around like a hairdresser who has a vendetta. She was referring to dog 1, but I knew that this could be controversial. You see, partner loves beards. I always knew that he liked beards, because occasionally we would pass someone with a beard and I would make a comment such as, ‘what a dreadful beard!’ and he would defend the beard. Yes, he would actually defend that person’s facial hair. Now don’t get me wrong, a bit of stubble adorning a chiselled jaw is super, a long, straggly beard on a 65 year old hells angel, isn’t. Neither is one of those beards that looks like a shit brown carpet from Carpet Right. I try to explain all this to partner, that there are certain beards that work and those that definitely don’t, but he still gets occasional beard envy.


When we got dog 2 clipped, the first thing partner said was: he’s lost his beard! We are definitely a divided camp in this house: females x 5 anti the beard, male x 1 in the remain camp. And boy does that 1 x male gets a beard bashing from the 5 x females in this house. Daughter 4 called him, ‘prickly hedgehog’ for years, every time he said night night. I remember feeling the same way about my Uncle’s beard when I was little. But, oh the contempt of a teenager…have you ever experienced being dragged over hot coals? That is what it is like when a teenager lets rip:

Are you going to shave this morning? (disgusted look on teenager’s face)

I wasn’t going to.

(Teenager looks like she is going to be physically sick over her bagel) I think you should.

(Red rag to partner. I exit the kitchen.) Well, if that’s what you think, then I won’t. (I’m gesticulating, ‘let it go’ signs from the garden, through the window).

And that very same daughter is now wielding those scissors at dog 1, with a glint in her eye. ‘Let’s do it while he’s not here to stop us’, she says excitedly. I disarm her and hack away at it myself. It’s somehow liberating.


On our dog walk the next morning, dog 1 gets chased by a greyhound. “That wouldn’t have happened if he’d still had his beard”, partner says. I laugh the comment off, skeptically. “He had more authority with his beard”, he continues.

So there, I thought, we have it: men, beards and authority. Perhaps this is exactly what teenage daughter is trying to challenge.


Mum Knows Best

The minute I was offered that cup of tea, I knew that my consent was required. Teenagers don’t make cups of tea unless you specifically request one. Tea is not on a teenagers’ radar. Teenagers will bake cakes and biscuits, they will offer to cook dinner sometimes, but they NEVER offer to make me a cup of tea. So I knew it was a biggie.

She plonked it down in front of me and sat on the sofa opposite, clutching a notebook, looking nervous and defiant at the same time – a look that only a teenager can carry off. They perfect the defiant part as toddlers and the nerves develop with their heightened awareness of self. I made sure that I played my part in the drama that was unfolding, by looking serious. She started to speak and immediately two sisters appeared through different doors to listen in to the conversation. Sisters are able to sniff out a juicy one from upstairs rooms and from the garden – it’s a knack. I wonder if boys are on such heightened alert…I doubt it.

She told them to go away. Now we’re all intrigued. They need a tit bit before agreeing to go. She feeds them one line: I’m talking to mum about the sleepover. It’s enough for them. they are bored by that. It isn’t that she’s got a boyfriend, is gay, or anything about sex. They scarper.

THE SLEEPOVER…I hate those two words. I never used to hate them. I was always cool with friends staying over. I felt it was good for the girls to get used to being apart from us and sleep somewhere different. I didn’t mind having kids to stay – as long as they weren’t the whingy ones, who did nothing but demand attention, wouldn’t eat the food, didn’t seem to like your kid much either and then you had to drive them home at 1am because they’d puked everywhere and they wanted to go. Those kids suck.

No, I’m talking about teenage girls’ sleepovers, where they load themselves up on popcorn and Haribos. Watch back to back horror movies until 4am. Take endless selfies. Laugh loudly. Scream. Wake up too early, because the rest of the house is awake. AND THEN THE CARNAGE…

Have you ever experienced a sleep deprived teenager acting up in front of her friends? IT’S HORRIBLE! Your usually fairly pleasant child turns into a MONSTER! The shit that comes out of their mouths is so unbelievable, you are almost left speechless. Even the friends shift nervously from foot to foot, trying to hide behind this person who is somehow possessed. This creature who is talking to you as if you are a piece of crap, rather than someone who has just accommodated their wishes for the past 24 hours and will probably end up picking pieces of popcorn and sweet wrappers from under their bed for days to come.

“I’ve made a list of points saying why you should let me have a sleepover this weekend,” she started. One by one, she read them off the page. At least she’s reading, I thought as I listened. I admired her wanting a proper debate, rather than an argument. I was impressed with the way she put her points across so clearly. I was rather touched by her sincerity.

“No!” I said without hesitation. Because no matter how calm and mature her behaviour is now, ultimately Mum knows best.


The Bitter, Shameful Truth

Think of something in your house that you are ashamed of. No need to shout about the stash of chocolate you’ve hidden from the kids, or your grey underwear though.

I am ashamed of our fruit bowl. Today it looks like this (again):


Shameful. What message is it sending to my children? That fruit doesn’t matter? Perhaps even more importantly, why do we have such a great big fruit bowl, with its sexy, bright, enticing Aztec design, if it just isn’t pulling the fruit? Why don’t we just swop it for one of those little wicker basket ones you get in caravans, that are only ever used for a week at a time. No, we have to have a huge great bucket of a fruit bowl that we can’t even afford to fill without selling a dog (no one would buy a teenager).

I’m also ashamed, because the only regular additions to the fruit bowl are lemons to enhance our gin. Fruit that nobody wants to eat and therefore it’s not even one of our 5 a day. And the bitter truth is, that the larder isn’t even full of tinned fruit, but full of tonic. The strawberries in the fridge go so well with Pimms.


Occasionally, a mango has been known to fleetingly grace the bowl. Blink and you miss it, because a mango shared between 6 people, that takes about 10 minutes to carefully peel and dice, lasts approximately 5 seconds from plate to mouths. Bananas look wonderful while no-one is eating them. They bring the fruit bowl alive with their vibrant yellow hue and then when people finally decide they would like one, they have turned into brown mush, that on closer inspection nobody wants to place in their school bag. Another fruit for the graveyard, along with the tangerines that have too many pips and the peaches as hard as bullets.

But the lemons live on. The last bastions of hope in the wasteland that is, my fruit bowl.

G&T Home

(Don’t) Take Me Out!

You’ve booked the babysitter! You and hubby decided to go on your first night out in two and a half years, after you both got a bit tipsy on wine, the evening the baby slept through. Since then and since booking the babysitter, the baby has screamed incessantly from 7-9 every night. You are understandably nervous. You broach the subject tentatively with your husband. You know what he is going to say.

“But this is exactly why we need to go out” he says, predictably.

You remonstrate with him, cautiously. He already has jealousy issues with baby two and you know that you are walking a tightrope.

“I know, hun, but I just don’t think I’ll we’ll enjoy ourselves, if we know the baby isn’t settled.”

Hubby is pulling that angry/disgruntled face. It reminds you of the face the baby pulls when he’s constipated. But you know that he’s got a point. You also know that you really don’t want to go, because in some weird way, it is easier not to. You aren’t that same couple any more: the carefree ones who got to parties late, having fucked like crazy on the kitchen table. The ones who rolled into bed at 4am and had drunken sex that you couldn’t remember the next morning. The ones who lay in until 2 in the afternoon, just because you could. You are the ones who scrape Weetabix off the table and who get up at 4am in a sleep deprived haze.

You give yourself the mental dressing down that your mother or best friend would give you: you mustn’t neglect yourselves. Besides, you chose the babysitter because she is another mum, experienced. You chose her because she’s like you.

She arrives and the baby is screaming. The toddler feels warm. You fuss, hoping for a last minute get out clause. Your skinny jeans feel uncomfortable with your heels. You feel like a traitor to the children.

“Where you going mummy?” toddler asks.

You shoot a look at husband, he’s already gone and the car’s engine is already revving. You shoot a look at the babysitter; she is cradling the baby, who is sleeping.

Beep! Beep! Kisses and cuddles administered, you totter out to your first love.

You talk about the baby and his tears. You talk about how the toddler has been under the weather. You laugh with each other about the time that the toddler…and the time that the baby…


                       From, ‘How it works’ The Mum A (very funny) Ladybird Book

You return home a little early (an hour), to silence. You smile at your husband and you both know that it will be a while until you do this again.




The Refer-conundrum-humdrum

Eeny Meeny

Ah, the referendum. The conundrum and the humdrum. For all the banter and the debating and the guff. For all the newspaper headlines, columns of print and rhetoric, I am still sitting on the fence and this fence post is digging right up my arse. The one thing I am goddamn sure about, is that there shouldn’t be a referendum for such a HUGE decision. Next they’ll be asking us whether we should invade North Korea, or hire a hitman to get Prince Andrew. I mean, I’m fairly intelligent – I’ve got a degree for god’s sake. Ok, I know that means fuck all. I’m a trained teacher… well, yes we know what respect teachers get in this country. I’M A HUMAN BEING and therein lies the problem. We should be leaving this whole debacle to the non-human beings among us: the politicians. We’re being fed what they want to feed us anyway (cow’s shit tastes better). Then we wouldn’t have had to spend weeks answering the hairdresser/Tesco checkout assistant/Facebook friend: are you voting in or out? and listening to aforementioned person spewing a whole load of bollocks back at you that they’ve just read in the Mail. Or worse, reading those Facebook posts where Joe Blogs is suddenly an expert on EU politics, immigration, foreign exchange rates and how many millions (or is it billions?) the national health service is set to gain/lose.

But you know what the worst bit for me is? The thing that is really pissing me off, is that not only have we got to suffer Donald Trump’s face splashed everywhere at the moment, we’ve got Boris Johnson’s bonce everywhere at the same time! Whose fucking great idea was it to juxtapose those two twats in the news?

Who do we believe? The twat with the hair, the toffee nosed twat, the twat that has a mouth like a muppet, the twat who doesn’t even live in this country and who leads a country where you buy a gun with your pint of milk….oh, so many twats to choose from.

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo
I don’t know which way to go
If I vote ‘in’ will it be right?
If I vote ‘out’ can I sleep at night?

It’s a worry. I’m floating like a fibrous turd. Yes folks: apparently it’s turds like me who are going to decide the future of our country.


Woah, the Hokey Votey,
Woah, the Hokey Votey,
Woah, the Hokey Votey,
Ref-er-en-dum, blah, blah, blah!

Parenting From My Hammock


Driving whilst under the influence of parenting, I’ve decided that I’ve passed my test. I’ve got 6 kids: 4 poor sods are completely genetically mine and 2 escaped with just having me as their step mum – a whole different ball game. I’ve dealt with 5 teenagers and gone through the tweenie stage with 4. None of this experience makes me anywhere near an expert, but I feel like I’ve earned my P plates.

I still fuck up, a lot. I still feel guilty a lot of the time. I still feel like there are many roads I am yet to travel with my kids and some will be full of pot holes, some will just be a little bit bumpy and others will be smooth and we’ll fly along those roads with the wind in our hair. But whatever road I travel, those P plates are staying on. We are always learning. There isn’t always a right or a wrong answer to a problem or a question, I’ve learned that it can depend on the child and the situation. I’ve learned that it is good to be honest with our children, especially if we feel that we have failed them in some way and I’ve also learned that they are capable of an awful lot more than as parents, we often give them credit for.

I bought myself a hammock today: £29.99 from Lidl. Ever since I can remember I have wanted a hammock. Its swaying and lulling represents relaxation and holidays. It’s raining today, so we set it up in our kitchen and for me it is symbolising something far more than sunny days. It gave me the thought that I’m beginning to parent from my hammock. It’s partly because of the girls’ ages: daughter 1 will quite often cook the family meal and daughter’s 2 and 3 are both very capable and willing cooks too, time permitting. So I let them. I don’t hover over them, I get on with something else. If they need ingredients that we haven’t got, they go to the shop to get them. I leave them to it.

Daughter 4 went off on a camping trip with the school this morning. Last weekend daughter 3 had a football tour to Holland and two weekends before this both daughters 2 and 3 had Duke of Edinburgh trips. When daughter 1 went on her D of E weekend last year, I sat on her bed – she asked me to – clutching the kit list and methodically going through it with her. It felt wrong. I kept saying to her: do you really need me here? and then promptly felt guilty for asking.

Now, armed with my P plates, I parented the others from my hammock for their trips, metaphorically speaking. They did all the packing themselves, everything. I didn’t get involved at all. They even talked to me about needing new walking boots and head torches and I just brushed off their requests with comments like: ‘use your sister’s’ and, ‘you don’t need a head torch, use any torch’. Some of you reading this may think this is unkind, because they think that they need these things and they won’t want to feel uncomfortable not having exactly what is on the list. And yes, my hammock parenting did cause them to fuck up: a groundsheet was forgotten and the night before daughter 2’s trip she discovered that the tent had neither poles, nor pegs. However, they sorted out these problems themselves. I didn’t rescue them, because if we always rescue our children, how will they ever learn to spread their wings and fly?

Many times when I’ve taken daughter 3 to her football training, I have sat in my car and watched parents arriving, struggling to get their reluctant daughter out of the car and then promptly carrying their bag to the training ground for them. I hate seeing this. It represents for me the parent carrying their child through life, when the child needs to use their own legs to walk. I saw the same this morning when we dropped daughter 4 at camp. Parents carrying rucksacks and sleeping bags for their children, while the child trots along, happily bag free at their side. Then parents standing and watching at the fence, while their child is in a field, with 60 of their friends, playing a game with their young and fun team leaders, but the parent is finding it hard to let go. Desperate for their child to turn and make eye contact; to seek them out from among all the desperate parents standing at the fence, who should all just be walking away and letting go.

I read a post by the blogger: Absolutely Prabulous last night. It is raw, honest and beautiful:

To M on Your 12th Birthday. It’s Not You, It’s Me. Sorry

It is a letter written to her daughter on her 12th birthday. In it she blames herself for many of her daughter’s foibles and behaviour. It got me thinking about how as parents we can feel that we are being harsh on our children, possibly even cruel and that when we compare ourselves to other parents, we feel even more guilty at the way we treat our own. But often, I feel, we need to step back from judging ourselves so harshly. Because so often, it is when we are being harsh on our children that we are being the kindest. When we are being what they and others may call, ‘cruel’ we are doing the best possible thing that we can for them and when we are letting them go, we are allowing them to spread their wings and fly.

I have this quote on my toilet door and for me, it sums it all up:


As parents we give our children direction to make strong roots. We do our best. We guide them, teach them right from wrong, instill in them courtesy and respect for others. However, ultimately we must let go a little: test their independence and resilience, which in the future they are going to need, and give them the confidence, from our hammocks, to fly.

Transgender – how much do we understand?



Eighty state schools, including 40 primary schools in England are now allowing boys to wear skirts and girls to wear trousers. Crikey, this is going to be interesting. I’m all for equality and ‘transgender’ certainly seems to be a buzz word at the moment, but I wonder how the reality will pan out.

Daughter 3 never wore a skirt to primary school. She even refused to go to the same school as her sisters because they didn’t allow girls to wear trousers. She was, what people might call a ‘tomboy’. I too was a tomboy. Until the age of 13 I never wore a skirt or dress outside school. In fact, I was always being told by women in the ladies toilet that, ‘the men’s is next door’. Neither my daughter, nor I are transgender, we just preferred wearing trousers. So for us, the new ‘gender neutral’ uniform policy would be welcome and neither of us ever encountered an adverse reaction from others.
I am just wondering how welcoming people are going to be to boys in skirts. On paper, it all makes perfect sense. Pupils as young as five can dress in the uniform which they feel most comfortable in. In reality, I can’t help but feel that other children will not know how to react and this could result in bullying. Let’s face it, it doesn’t take much to set a bully off. That’s certainly not to say that we should all conform to the bully’s view on the world, but I think that if a school introduces a transgender uniform policy then all the issues surrounding the topic are going to have to be explored at length with children from as young as five.
I feel that this is a huge step in a new direction for all of us: parents, teachers, schools. As parents we have quite a struggle with the dreaded question: where do babies come from? Cue mumbling about seeds and belly buttons. Now I feel we are going to be faced with questions from children that I as a parent, don’t necessarily feel equipped to answer. I did see a documentary on transgender children a while back and have listened to a couple of programmes on the radio. All of which I found really interesting and they made me understand the difficulties parents of transgender children face and of course, the huge turmoil the children themselves are having to deal with. However, I certainly don’t feel in any way equipped by my minutiae of knowledge on the subject, to deal with questions that may come my way, when a five year old comes home from school saying: David is wearing a skirt to school mummy, why?
But this is now a question that as parents we must be prepared to answer and to talk about. I think that in the current climate of change, where transgender is being more widely recognised and accommodated, with unisex toilets being introduced in some schools, for example, we need to think about and explore our own feelings on the subject. I’ll be honest with you, I feel very uncomfortable about unisex toilets in schools.
In the articles I have read, they talk about: things you should not say to a transgender child. It is a relatively new subject to most of us and our children and we must all be informed, so as not to offend. In order to prevent transphobia, as a nation we need to be educated.
Any change will take a while to assimilate. The first boys who wear skirts to school may have to contend with an adverse reaction, in a way that neither I, nor my daughter had to face when we wore trousers. However, if the other children, teachers and parents are given sufficient information and support about why that child is wearing a skirt, one would hope that in time, it will be as acceptable for a boy to wear a skirt as it is for girls to wear trousers. I am really interested to see how tolerant, accommodating and sensitive we can all be.

The Odd Sock Mountain

             Odd Sock Mountain

Baby Sitting

Those of you with babies, either your own or those you care for from time to time, hands up who would like to go to the theatre. I’ll babysit for you. Take your other half, make an evening of it. Pre-theatre drinkies then off to take in a show. The show is called: Come Look at the Baby. So while I’m babysitting, you will be watching a baby…who is erm, sitting.

imageObviously my babies would be cute to watch…

This is one of the shows on offer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year. Apparently, rehearsals are going well and the six month old is, “chilled” and “calm”. They’ve drugged him/her (we don’t know which yet – oooh the suspense). They must have given that baby drugs, because if you put a sprog on a stage, there is no way on god’s earth that it is going to just sit there. Besides – you’ve paid your money * you want a show and a baby has a limited repertoire. Perhaps a complete meltdown would liven things up a bit, because I shouldn’t think it’ll get up and twerk.

I admit that babies can be gorgeous, but as we all know, (but may not admit), the cutest, funniest most beautiful babies are our own. All other babies get a cursory glance and a coo and move on. We also know that babies are smelly, noisy, unpredictable little monkeys, who have the ability to wind parents up to the point where they are screaming at each other: I JUST WANT A NIGHT OFF FROM THIS SHIT!

So, I’m guessing that you won’t be taking me up on my offer of babysitting to see this show? I mean, why would you? In fact, I’m really intrigued to know who WILL be going to see it. Actually, the show that I really would like to see is: The Book of Mormon. Apparently it’s full of great music and sex. A critic called it, ‘slick and smutty’. NOW you’re talking! My friend has seen it three times. Book the babysitter, I’m off!

∗ I should just mention that all profits from the show are going to Unicef and Save the Children. So even if when it’s boring as hell, it’s still going to a good cause.