Busted by my teenager

Yesterday, whilst groaning (it’s obligatory), my teenage son accused me of:

” Never saying what you really mean..”

Ha! Ha! Ha! …Ohhhh, my boy. Don’t go there. Not today. Not when my meditation app has just told me to smile. From my eyes and my heart. Don’t give me conflict today. Pllleeaasse.

But, as usual, we continue. Along our jolly little ‘nearly 16-year-old’ way. Me, the shouldn’t get drawn in’ Mother, and him, the Son. The lovely young, but also you understand, sagacious, (16 in June) son. And so, I attempt to answer. To justify this outrageous accusation. But before I do, I explain that I have to get a splinter out of my finger and rush to the sanctuary of the bathroom, at which point I sit on the bath and have a good long think.

Can you imagine It? If we Mothers, wives, daughters, friends, spent our whole lives saying exactly what we wanted to say. It would either be complete bliss or; we would find ourselves rocking in the corner. No friends, greasy hair, muttering the words over again, “I only told the truth. I just told the truth…”

You see, it’s not that we lie to our children per se, is it? No, we just …a little bit don’t tell the truth to them. Say words. Those words that don’t really count as lies. Those untruths. There. Untruths. That sounds more literate and therefore far more intelligent and kinder than lies, much more justifiable. Little…Untruths. 

What I really wanted to say when ‘Mr. Clever Clogs I’m nearly 16 and so know-e-v-e-r-y-thing-there-is-to-know-about-e-v-e-r-y-thing ‘ was,

“Ahh, Shaddap”.


No… grow up, Liz. Your 46, not 9. I wanted to say

Actually…, NO.

Shaddap was what I really wanted to say, but…I didn’t. I couldn’t. 

“You never say what you really mean.”

My God. He’s right. I’m a compulsive chronic liar. I’m one of those who doesn’t even know that they’re doing it.

Tell me. Enlighten me. Is it just me because I’m a homeschool mum with far too much teenage company on my hands, and therefore feel an obligation to spice things up a little in the trust department? Or do we all tell our children these glorious little-coded untruths?

What we really mean when we say to our kids…

  • ‘Look in the middle drawer in the kitchen’ (I’ve thrown it in the bin)
  • ‘I can’t remember’ (I’m not telling you)
  • ‘Have you used that new shower gel I bought you yet?’ (get washed. You smell)
  • ‘I’m going for a walk with Dad’ (I need someone to moan to. About you.)
  • ‘Why don’t you all go and pick blackberries?’ (go away. I want to surf the internet on my phone for half an hour)
  • ‘I’m just going to the toilet.’ (See above) 
  • ‘I think so …Yes’ (I haven’t got a clue who or what you’re talking about)
  • ‘What was Y’s Mum doing when you went over to his house last night?’(tell me she was sloshed on the couch with an empty bottle of wine)
  • ‘Why don’t you have an apple if you’re hungry’ (those crisps will make your spots worse)
  • ‘It’s been lovely these past few days without any distractions’ (I’m ecstatic that your computer’s broken)
  • How do I add a tag to this photo? (I do actually know how to do this. I just want you to feel sorry for me. For once)
  • ‘Do you prefer me with long hair or short?’ (I’m a hormonal wreck going through perimenopause, just say I look gorgeous with both.)
  • Want to come for a walk with the dog? ( I love talking to you)
  • ‘Act your age; you’re nearly 16’ (OMG you’re nearly 16. Please don’t leave home)
  • ‘It’s 11 pm! I don’t want to hear about your drama rehearsal’(lay down and let me stroke your hair)
  • ‘You’re driving me mad’… (I love you).    

Our little world of cryptographic language.

When a toddler says something truthful  (usually much to the embarrassment of the parent standing next to them) people just laugh and say, “out of the mouths of babes!”

So what changes I wonder?

Maybe he’s right, my, ‘Mr Clever Clogs 16 year old’. (don’t tell him I said that though)


Maybe we do hide behind our words.  Never saying what we really mean. Making life more complicated than it needs to be with all our untruths. And as we get older and older we just add more and more layers.

No. Don’t say that. I don’t want to be one of those old women who tell lies about everything from their age to the number of operations they’ve had…

Right then. Time for a change. I’m turning over a new leaf. As from now, I’m telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. No more underlying – excuse the pun – interpretations. No more, ‘guess what I mean what I really really mean .’

No.

The truth.


But maybe I’ll just leave out the bit about the spots.

And the smell.

And the fact that I broke his laser pen.

Just tell him I love him.

And stroke his hair.

And tell him I love him.

Some more.

7 things new parents should avoid saying.

Eavesdropping on conversations is the best.
Eavesdropping on parents with new babies, well, that takes the pastime to a different league. There’s nothing finer than walking into the post office, seeing a long queue (granted, not a regular occurrence in New Zealand) and getting behind a couple of young parents swapping baby brags. Sorry, news.  Hearing them always makes me feel sort of curious and nervous at the same time. The same nervous feeling you get when you’re just about to go over the top on the rollercoaster. And interested to know if, 15 years later, new parents are still saying and believing the same old twaddle. It reminds me of all of the things that I too said when my teenagers were babies. And perfect. And kind. And controllable. When I innocently believed that this is how it would always be. In. The. Days. Before. They. Changed.

 

I know, I know. You think you have the perfect child, we all do. And they are; perfect I mean. It’s just that… you know that saying ‘ don’t tempt fate’? Well, it applies to all of the following points. So Parents. As desperate as you are to blurt out these statements, Don’t.

  1. “He is such a good sleeper”.

Granted, at the moment this is very convenient. Not for you getting up at 5 am to put the telly on. No thank you. We have a routine. We have this sleeping thing nailed.  But, be warned. At 15…you can’t get them out of that same bed for love nor money. You long for a day, just one, that they’ll get up out of that stinking pit before 11 am. I’m still waiting.

2. “She eats anything. Her favourite is vegetable korma”.

That’s because she’s strapped into that chair with no way of escape. It doesn’t last. The Nigella Lawson pea risotto is a thing of the past, and will instead be  replaced by the never-ending question: “does it have mushrooms in it?”

3. “He loves it when I play classical music in the car. I think he’s going to be a composer.”

If you’d rather listen to Adele than Baby Beethoven, do it. The only thing he will be composing in the car at 15 is a text. And guess what? You’re not part of it, so keep your eyes on the road and  turn that annoying  din down, please.

4. “She’s already using her pincer grip.”

Believe me. When your girl reaches 13,  and you see those thumbs whizzing over the Instagram keyboard at a hundred miles an hour, you’ll wish she’d kept those beautiful chubby fists in her mouth. Don’t encourage the use of fast fingers. Put mittens on until she’s 20 if necessary.

5. “He’s saying Dada, but I’m teaching him to say, Mama!”

Don’t. Once it starts, it never stops. Just leave it. Let Dada take the blame.

6. “She loves her big brother.”

Make the most of this one. It seems that when a pair of siblings enters into the dark void that is teenagerism, they make a secret pact. “In front of  Mum and Dad, at least, we will always be arch enemies. Especially at dinner time; just to ensure their dinner goes down in lumps.”

7. “I’m taking him to coffee mornings. He needs to socialise.”

If your idea of sitting in a big circle with a load of other knackered parents, staring and comparing little blobs, mashing, mushy banana (if you’re healthy) or digestives (if you were me) into their bibs, then go ahead. Honestly ? Go round to Grandmas, (if you don’t have one handy, there’s always the old people’s home down the road), make yourself a cup of tea, get a magazine (preferably not on good parenting), and let her hold and coo for an hour. Socialising done. And don’t worry, in 15 years he will have 1023 friends, on Facebook.

 

There then .  That’s  it for starters,  but,  be warned. As the years go by there arrives loads more. All the time. However, at least you’re in the ‘know’ now . You’re in the proper parents’ gang. You see,  they don’t tell you these things at antenatal class, it’d seem a bit scary wouldn’t it?   “Heres a free nappy, oh and by the way, anything good that happens? Just ignore it, it doesn’t last”.

So, new parent. Next time you’re stood waiting in line and someone asks how the new baby is,  just say, ” naughty as hell ” that way, you’re not setting yourself up for future disappointments. Not only that,  but you’ll keep the nosy old bag, the one listening to your conversation behind you, happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A homeschool Mothers’ life. Her REAL life…

Someone , whom I won’t name, said to me this week 

“You’re so lucky… You just seem to have it all together…”

I won’t tell you how I replied, but, it got me thinking. 

As a result, I’d thought I’d share with you all (all 4 of you), my life of which some may see (through those pink specs)  and the actual reality of it. 

Here’s how my week went. 

(Please excuse the crap drawings… my sister is the artist in the family. I’m the otherwise perfect one…uuhhumm)

As some of you may be aware, I have homeschooled  both my kids for the past 8 years. (Sonny is coming up to 16 , and Tessa is nearly 13.) Fun times. Honestly. No really. OK then. Fine.

When you tell people that you homeschool, that you decided , out of choice , to stay at home with the little buggers, they look at you with either : 
(a) Do you need to see a doctor? Or,

(b) Are you a half wit?  No, just joking. Or, 

(b) Wow… you are amazing … what a fabulous life you must have . 

Here’s what people imagine homeschooling to look like…

And so Henry, King of England, was born , Blah, Blah, Blah…

But if you’d walked into my house on Monday morning.

This, is how homeschooling really looked…

Get off that friggin’ computer, you unhealthy pair of addicts…

It’s not easy being married to a plumber with his own business. As any self employed person will know, the money gets paid, as and when. Usually when. When the customer remembers or when they can be bothered. 

Wednesday came around and I was asked to phone and chase a customer… Great. 


Sonny decides to play the hallelujah song at a rate of knots on the piano… Tessa is winding the cat up, the signal on the phone goes dead if you go anywhere outside the prison of the living room… So.

This is what the customer thought they heard…

No problem, honestly! Just whenever you’re ready!

However , had they listened properly they would have heard this …

Hhmmm . Moving swiftly on to a Friday .

I look on FB and see a gorgeous picture of a couple sipping wine, with a caption “date night!”.
Date night. 

What’s that?. 

I think back to the days before my life changed beyond belief.  To the days before my chicklings took my life and decided to claim it as their own . To the days when I didn’t introduce myself as, ” Hi! I’m liz… Sonnys’ mum”.

If I lied to you. Remember, lied to you , here’s  what our bedroom looked like on Friday night…

I feel so young

It was a lie… remember?? the reality? Come on… and don’t bother telling me this isn’t the last thing you think of a night…

Did you put the bins out?

Exactly. Charming but true. There. So that was my week. That was my little, homeschooling, practically perfect wife and Mother week .
Right. I’m off to cook my children a homemade risotto … frozen pie and chips? Me? 

Never…

The Elastic has gone in my knickers…

I feel like shit today. I’ve tried to shake it off but to no avail. One of those days.

I had to phone Tess’s’ piano teacher and tell her Tessa no longer wanted to have lessons. She’s 78. She’s been teaching her for the past 6 years. It was hideous. she was obviously upset and disappointed. Me, babbling on like a duck. Trying to make it sound better than it was. I cried at that. Not on the phone, but when I came off. My cold-hearted daughters response was ,”well I’m sorry, but I’m going to leave her sometime, so it might as well be now…”
Oh, to be 12 and tough.

My hair looks like an upside down mop. Well, a cross between a mop and the nurse from ‘Meet the Midwife’ and I’m not talking about the sexy blonde one. Incase you’ve never seen it, the nurse in question is the one whose hair is a cross between mine, and an upside down mop.


I’m not going to read this blog back as I normally do. I write and then read and then think, God no… I can’t write that, but stuff it. No-one will read it anyway so I’m writing this as I think it. Rebellious at last. It’s only taken 46 years.

I’ve read about three different blogs today to try and  inspire myself. Cheer myself up. My favourite was one written by a mum, entitled ’46 things they never tell you about raising a teenage boy’.  I sat there and blubbed. Wallowing in self-pity. Wishing my own homeschooled teenage boy wasn’t at correspondence school for the day. That he was here with me, wiping my tears, promising me that he’ll never turn into a man and leave me. He returns at 4 o’clock. I shout at him for heading straight to the computer. He says’ Ive only just walked in the door and you’re getting at me’.

I cry again.

Its been a crap day so far. The elastic has gone in my knickers . I feel like an old mop head with falling down knickers. My kids think I’m on my way to the insane assylum. They’ve both retreated to the safety of their rooms. I can hear Tess , skyping her friends. Using an over the top American accent, even though she’s English living in new Zealand.

I am grateful that I don’t have any taxiing around to do tonight, and for this reason, I purposely don’t bother wiping the black smudges from under my eyes. When you are wallowing as I am, it helps to walk past the mirror and see a tear-stained face. That means you can wallow some more.

Ok. I’m done.

This blog has made me smile. I’m such a bloody drama queen but I’ve managed to cheer myself up.

I am going to to wipe this mascara from under my eyes. Brush my hair. Burn these knickers.

 

 

What you can do with a whole hour !

 The clocks went back in New Zealand at midnight last night. I woke up this morning with a whole extra hour to my name.

Oh, joy.

An extra hour. For a short while, I felt like a rich lady.

Time.

 Let’s face it, the only thing worth a jot in life, is time.

Time, shows up in life as two guises.

There is time rich. When the hours roll along languidly .  Hands, stretching lazily around the face of the clock, surrendering at the last moment to reach reluctantly over to the next minute waiting in line.  Remember that time?  When you have devoured three whole pages of your favourite book.  Been cuddling with your newborn baby, laying , just smelling their head. Painting your toes. Wandering along a beach, a park, through the streets of a new city. Waiting for a bus, waiting for an appointment. Waiting for the blue line to appear in the window.  Those times.

When you look to the clock and find, just 2  small minutes have passed…

And then, there’s the other sort of time. Time poor.

The mean one.

The one that taunts us. The one that can run faster, much faster than we can. Time that, when we arrive at the finish line at the end of the day, head falling with exhaustion onto the waiting pillow, is there. Smug.  Arms folded, legs crossed, head cocked , as if to say “what kept you?”

As I lay in bed this morning, I wandered which one I would be encountering today. I knew which one I’d rather dance with, but it seems that the choice is often not ours to take.  My mind, saying “do this! do that!  you’ve got loads of time” (an extra hour !). However, in reality,  I felt the hands of time, taunting me. Dragging me , kicking and screaming, towards mid morning , and before I knew it, my lie in had gone over time and that familiar feeling of ‘running out of time’ came over me.

Children it seems, have a very simple philosophy on these matters. I decided to ask the oracle that is my 12-year-old daughter, her thoughts on the matter. Resisting the urge to say “Tell me quickly!”  I instead calmly asked:

“Tess. Why do you think it is, that sometimes time just whizzes past, and other times the time just goes so slowly ( I know. That’s a lot of times…)

“Oh, that’s easy. Time goes really slowly  when you’re concentrating on just one thing “

The words of professor Higgins spring to mind.  ‘By Jove, I think she’s got it’

Lightbulb moment.  

It all fell beautifully into place.

The baby, the reading, the bus, the blue window…

To Concentrate on one thing . Otherwise known as mindfulness. To be mindful.

Mind :The seat of consciousness. The focus of ones thoughts. To apply oneself to. To concern oneself with. To give heed to. To notice.

 

I set myself a small task. It was to empty the dishwasher . I know- my life oozes excitement- but, I made sure that I focused on that , and that alone. Looking at every cup, placing it in the correct drawer (Ok, ramming it into the other cups because there was  no space) but really concentrating on just that.  It was quite unbelievable. That whingeing  dishwasher, that dishwasher, that in my household, sits there like a burping,  overstuffed aubergine, constantly whining, “I’m full… empty me …” was unburdened  of its contents in about 90 seconds flat. Done.

I went on. Little things, that I needed to do. Brush my teeth , fold the washing, phone the piano teacher and cancel the lesson.

All of these things I found were done in a moment. A focused , concentrated, moment. Stress free.

Try it. It works. I promise.

I made it to about 12pm. But tomorrow I’m going to have another practice. And the day after that , and the day after that too. I am waging a war against the time thief that goes by the name of poor. I am determined to win.

Give yourself one task to do. Just one. And focus your complete  attention to whatever it is you’re doing. 

Watch what happens to the time.

Just promise me one thing? That if you ram two cups inside of each other to make more space… Do it mind fully .

 

Spot. The difference when you’re not 12. 

As Mothers, we are always telling our children, “be who you are!” “Dont worry what people think of you!” ” Just love being you!”. 

Right?

I woke up this morning with a big fat spot on the side of  my face.

“Where the hell has that come from?” is what flickered through my mind for 3 seconds. But, then I remembered.

 We had run out of toilet roll last night.  If the kids were to use the kitchen paper towel when they visited the toilet this morning, it would block up the septic tank. Not a nice thought , and one much more important than the offending spot. Off to the shop I go. New face guest in tow. Ah, how bliss it is, to be 46 and not give a shit about a spot.

Fast forward five hours. Sitting next to my 12 (and 3/4 ) year old daughter, in the car. Although we have been together all day, still, she had failed to notice this new addition. Until now.

“What is that on your cheek?” She asks, in a tone that is reserved only for mothers and daughters.

“A spot- see! Even adults get spots!”

It was said in a , ‘look at me ! I’m 46 , Ive got a spot and I’m so cool about it.’ sort of way. To reassure, not myself, but her. 

Or maybe both of us. 

The reasoning behind that?

 I look at this beautiful girl. Who, so far this week, has worried and fretted about the following :

  • The new knickers that you bought me (2 weeks ago) show through my dance shorts.
  • My lips are getting too big for my flute (honestly) and its not blowing right.
  • I think there are  flees in my bed (new kittens, so fair point), my backs itchy.
  • I’ve got a mono brow. 
  • I’m too tall.
  • My T.shirt isn’t white anymore (hands up to that one) 
  • Ive got too many moles…

OOhhhh …I could go on and on. 

Really.

 My wonderful girl is 12. She’s beautiful, she’s talented.

 But she’s 12. 

And remember how hard 12 was? 

And I think I’ve got problems, with an overflowing septic tank.

So, my lesson and hope for today?

 Is that, when she saw her Mother-facing the world without an ounce of, ‘its going to make it look worse’ concealer on- she took something away.  Even a little,tiddly,12 year old something. And logged it, into that beautiful brain of hers.

Please know that you’re  gorgeous. Know that it wouldn’t matter if you had twenty million spots and eyebrow hairs and lips and fleas and yellowy white t shirts – you’ll still always be gorgeous. Because you are you. Because you are 12.Because you are 46. 52. 64. 73. 88. 96…

We are all … just gorgeous .

Thank you spot. Thank you age… Thank you toilet rolls.

 One lifestyle change that will save you money immediately, when you emigrate to New Zealand with your kids! 

This is an inblogtweeny . A bit of information on how emigrating to New Zealand, has saved me approximately $500  per  year on one lifestyle change.

Shoes.

Incase you didn’t know, proper shoe wearing amongst New Zealand school children, is neither compulsory , nor fashionable. There are, it seems, three options when deciding which way to adorne your wee piglets trotters. 

A: Bare (a number 1 choice for a large percentage of the kiwi kids). 

B: Flip- Flops  ( when winter hits, they seem to make an appearance).


Or C: One up from flip-flops (but with a strap around the ankle .Not the model shown, but similar, worn by ‘them there high schoolers.’)

Whichever  your choice, the maximum you will pay is approximately $30 per pair. Already a bargain. I know. But wait…

There is another option . It’s the one that we chose. But remember people, we are homeschoolers, ( and therefore …weird) and this choice isn’t really, well …cool.

Crocs. 

I know. Gorgeous aren’t they ? 

Comfy as anything, easy to kick off, stylish in a ‘German backpacker ‘sort of way,  never wear out. Crocs.

 And I’m not talking the real ones, with the picture of the little crocodile on the strap here. No. (Poor Kids. )

We went , and continue to go for , the replicas that are about a third of the price,  and at the most, need replacing only three times a year. (And that’s being generous.)

My kids have played at piano recitals and have hiked mountains in these beauties, they really are the bomb.  

So…Living in New Zealand.

Cost on shoes per year = $90. 

Times two kids = $180. 

That’s about 45 pounds. Per Year.

Compared to the Clarkes shoes, which I was buying when we lived in England, which set me back approx 45 pounds per term . New shoes were always needed per term, (I’m sure Clarkes brush some leather shrinker onto their shoes .)

Living in England.

Cost on shoes per year = $360 

Times that   by 2 kids = $720 .

A whopping difference of $540 per year saving!

We have lived in New Zealand for nearly 8 years now, so I’m guessing, there should be about four thousand dollars around here somewhere…