It has been almost a year since my last visit and adolescence now has the family in its sweaty, irritable, looming grip. Much has changed. I have finally accomplished my mission of becoming a teacher, after 25 years of thinking about it meanwhile the male cohort of the family has plunged headlong into an oozing swamp of testosterone whilst I wasn't looking. The firstborn suddenly grew in every direction; not unlike a gremlin when water is added and is now fondly referred to as "Lurch", whilst number two son has developed a penchant for waistcoats and skinny ties and retains the dubious title of "Hairy". At some point while this was happening I suddenly realised that I had to let go of my inner 15 year old as I had been usurped!
But according to the collective of mumblingly polite and self conscious Yoof who regularly empty my fridge and drape themselves across chairs, sofas and futons in my house, I m "Quite cool!". I m secretly rather pleased. Mainly because I don't feel in the slightest cool in fact I feel positively archaic! I groan as I get up from chairs, I relish early nights, I bought Clarke's shoes because they were comfortable and I actually liked them?? In fact I have morphed into the creature I scorned and reviled when I was 15 ...uuugghh! An adult!
I m not consciously making an effort to be a cool parent in fact I can attribute it to a combination of stupidity, exhaustion and laziness. I should remonstrate with myself when Lurch's friends murmur in hushed tones "..awesome my mum would NEVER let me do that!" as they eat another slice of pizza in semi darkness in front of their 11th hour in front of the X box.. but frankly I can't be bothered? I m too busy wrestling with my own demons. Not particularly strenuous wrestling it has to be said, but nevertheless I cannot ignore the facts that the cashier didn't question my purchase of Age-renew foundation; I never get asked for ID, my bra has more wire than the Somme and I ve booked a Hearing test and a flu jab for Monday.
I recently went away with some girlfriends, the Godmothers of the Oafspring on our annual jolly; free from the constraints of children, work and domestic servitude. We sat by the Cam in Cambridge sharing some Pinot Grigot (so middle class) and unashamedly ogling a group of young men whose sole responsibility was to tout for trade by charming middle age women into their punts and then steer their menopausal cargo up and down the busy waterways of the hallowed city. We noted rather ruefully that where once we would have been preoccupied with showing as much leg as possible and salaciously swishing our hair at these golden young gods we were now far more preoccupied with huddling under the blankets and tutting at people talking over the commentary!
The first night we arrived we didn't hit the town in all our glory as we would have done not too many years before. Instead, we collapsed in our PJs with a takeaway and were in bed by 12 after berating AA route finder (for getting me lost), the air conditioning (for not working in the bedroom) and the architecture for blocking the wi fi signal for our Blackberrys. Worst of all we didn't even talk about sex!!!
So why my son's friends would even consider me to be in the slightest way cool is frankly baffling. In fact I try particularly hard NOT to be cool or in any way more embarrassing than I already am simply by existing and resembling an AWOL Marquee? I know I have tendencies to being over animated, which is why I studiously avoided being even in the vicinity of a recent party that Lurch attended. He looked ridiculously handsome and I had to forcibly restrain my natural urge to crow and tell everyone within a 20 mile radius that this handsome, coy, charming young man was my baby!!! I bit my tongue and didn't say the uncool stuff that every fibre of my being was screaming such as "Sip... don't gulp" (my Dad's favourite tip). Part of me longed to give him tips about kissing, about not mixing drinks and about stopping drinking when his face went numb and the floor started to rise up, but I knew that it is uncharted territory for him and he needs to map it himself. I heard my own voice quavering when I asked if he wanted to take condoms with him and beat a hasty retreat before the words had even tripped off my lips as he floored me with a look which said "WTF!!!!!!" all over it.
So I have decided to approach this hormonal minefield by faking an attitude of indifference and disinterest when in the presence of the Yoof and bizarrely it has washed with them?.I have been referred too as "Cool" "Well Nice!" and "Down with the kids" although I m sure the last one was sarcastic! Consequently I felt quietly gleeful that I had passed under the scorn and mistrust radar however have discovered that this is now to my detriment and I have shot myself in the foot. By providing an uncomplaining and cheerful taxi service ferrying the Yoof between social engagements, I am now an unwilling audience to conversations that would make Mary Whitehouse have a seizure. I once mildly interjected in a conversation about "HOW GAY" every other person was that happened to fall outside their social circle, that a predilection for sodomy, strictly speaking determined "How Gay" someone was only to be met with an icy silence broken only by my son and heir hissing "GOD Mum are you actually mentioning ANAL in front of my Friends?????????" I was consequently more embarrassed than I have ever been in my life and mentally gave myself forty lashes for committing the most basic adult sin, of actually daring to express an opinion in the presence of "they that know all things."
SO I have decided to abandon any attempts to be cool and will now openly embrace middle age which I had been studiously avoiding. The truth of Cool appears to be in thoroughly indulging your inner tank top and comfortable shoe whilst releasing your inner child to the next generation who will do justice to your youth, unencumbered by actually being you!