It’s not fair.That’s​ right kid. It ain’t​.

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It’s not fair.

I won’t tell you what my mother used to retort with when I used to bellow this at her from the upstairs landing. All I’ll say was it involved a gentleman with no underpants who originated from Timbuktu. No PC parenting when I was a girl.

It’s not fair.

I’ve just had that unoriginal accusation hurled at me for not volunteering to be a taxi service at 9 o’clock tonight.

Tempted as I was to fire back about me having a bottle of Saviginion Blanc chilling in the fridge with my name on it, and how it had to be drunk by 8.30pm otherwise it would explode, and my head would fall off, my knickers would inflate, and the house would blow up. I didn’t.

I wasn’t given a chance. Instead, I was treated to a complimentary door slam and an “oh forget it” for dessert.

As a matter of fact Missy, yes, I’d like to do just that and forget it. But, I’m not like a snap chat thingymabob. 10 seconds glory and then snap! Ready to move on. No. I’m still here. Seething. Old people never forget, remember that.

Slam.

PLEASE. Stop slamming the bloody doors.

You see my cherub, here’s the thing. We didn’t go for the expensive option on doors when we were building this house, being on a budget we went for the cheaper ones. The naughty builder didn’t think to warn us that in 6 years time those same doors would be slammed approximately 1007 times a day.  You were only 7 when we built the house, and the only thing you used to do to the doors back then was stick ‘I love you mummy’ pictures on them with chewing gum.

It’s not fair.

As I sit outside, sulking, hunched over my laptop with the smelly blue fleecy blanket wrapped around my shoulders -freezing but too proud to go inside, I think of all of the things that I think aren’t fair.

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Open that God Slam Door lady. Heres a few It’s not fairs of my own.

  • It’s not fair…that you don’t go to bed at 7 pm anymore.
  • It’s not fair…that I did 3 sets of lunges yesterday and now I’m walking as though I’m riddled with arthritis.
  • It’s not fair…that I’m acquiring jowls.
  • It’s not fair…that  I can’t turn my phone off at the hairdressers in case you need to know where the green felt tip pen is.
  • It’s not fair…that there’s not enough fibre in a bowl of crunchy nut cereals for my bowels to function properly
  • It’s not fair…that just when I get my head around something the new version comes out.
  • It’s not fair…that the cat keeps pi**ing in the plant pot.
  • It’s not fair…that I haven’t been able to clean the bathroom for over two weeks.
  • It’s not fair…that I haven’t got a cleaner to clean the bathroom.
  • It’s not fair… that the only time I get to read my phone book is in the filthy bathroom.
  • It’s not fair…that I don’t want to cook dinner again this week.
  • It’s not fair…that we can’t afford a takeaway for 4 people.
  • It’s not fair…that I threw away that little rubber thing off the Hoover, and now the handle keeps collapsing when I push down too hard.
  • It’s not fair…that other parents never argue with their kids.
  • It’s not fair…that other parents get to go out late, and their children don’t even phone them to check up on them.
  • It’s not fair…that I hate going out at night. Anywhere. But sometimes I have to to prove that I’m still young.
  • It’s not fair…that the recycle bin stinks of curdled milk.
  • It’s not fair…that I can’t find a washing powder that makes my whites white and not grey.
  • It’s not fair…that I can’t find a toothpaste that makes my teeth white and not yellow.
  • It’s not fair…that it’s not cool in New Zealand to have a tan
  • It’s not fair…that, as a result, I look like death warmed up.
  • It’s not fair…that a glass of wine has the same amount of calories as a cheese and ham toastie.
  • It’s not fair…that since I started homeschooling you 6 years ago, I’ve had cheese and ham toasties for my lunch nearly every day.
  • It’s not fair…that you look beautiful in your glasses, but I look like Fiona from Shrek in mine.

 

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  • It’s not fair…that the blue fleecy blanket is too big to go into the washing machine and that’s why it stinks.
  • It’s not fair…that when your brother has his head phones on he pretends he can’t hear me, even though they haven’t developed such advanced noise blocking headphones and if they had they wouldn’t be $69 from the Wharehouse.
  • It’s not fair…that when your bedrooms are tidy, you leave the door closed but when they look like something that a dog wouldn’t sleep in you insist the door is kept wide open so that everytime I walk past my palms start to sweat, and my mouth goes dry.
  • It’s not fair…that it’s not fair. End of.

Right, that’s it then. Rant over. Do you have any it’s not fairs you’d like to share? Leave a comment below x

Oh, hang on, one more…

It’s not fair that I’ve given in about the taxi ride.

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The (politically) correct questions to ask your teenager.

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I can’t seem to get it right with my teenagers this week.

Whatever I suggest is wrong. The advice I give is outdated, the questions I am asking are ignored. Even my impression of the cat talking with a speech impediment didn’t get any laughs. Nothing. Just a sigh, a look, and then, slam.

Fortunately for my teenagers, I am not in my blubbering in the toilet fragile state this week. No. Instead, I’m in my ‘let’s research this problem and talk it through’, frame of mind.

I turned to Google.

I found a lovely little chappy who looked to me, quite frankly, as if he’d never spent twenty minutes with a teenager let alone a lifetime studying them. He couldn’t possibly have done. His hair was still brown, and he was smiling. With his teeth showing. Admittedly, it was a Jack Nicholson from ‘The Shining’ smile, but still, he didn’t look to me like a typical Dad. He showed no signs of mania. He showed no evidence of drowning, nor any of wanting to drown his teenage clients. No, I reckon he was a fake, but no matter, he was a psychologist, and surely that meant he would know the reason my kids think I’m the most antiquated, unfunny, plonker ever.

It seems that the answer lies in the questions that we ask our little bundles of hormonal loveliness. The questions. Not, the answers. Why didn’t I think of that sooner?  That’s it then. Easy.

Armed with my pen, I searched the entire house- it was under the dog blanket warming itself, I began to jot down all of Johnny the psychologists recommended questions that we should be asking our teenagers. I was determined to make this work. I only had until next Wednesday, and then my monthly hormones would insist that I turn into Bruce Banner again.

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There wasn’t much time. This was my window of opportunity.

As I got to number 5 my heart began to sink. I couldn’t help but look at the suggested questions all neatly lined up and compare them to the blurting inquisitions that spew out of my own mouth on a regular basis.

You will find below, the questions that the psychologists recommend you ask your difficult/moody/angry teenager.

Alongside are the alternatives of a psychotic Mother who gets it wrong/every/farts/end.

Please feel free to give yourself a little test (there’s a pencil in the cutlery drawer).

  • What is worse – this OR this?  Me: You can either do the dishwasher, or you can empty the bins. No, I’ll tell you what, seeing as you get more pocket money than your sister, how about you do BOTH?
  • What makes it better – this OR this?  No discussion, just do it. OK?
  • Are you feeling more angry/hurt?  You need an early night. What time did you turn your phone off last night?
  • How does that affect you?  Why don’t you just come off Facebook and Snapchat? They’re all a load of twaddle.
  • When you aren’t busy/when you are lying in bed at night – what are the things that make you most upset?  Have you finished your reading response for English? You look like death warmed up. Why aren’t you asleep yet?
  • Is there anything about this you feel embarrassed or ashamed about?  I can not BELIEVE that you posted that on Facebook. Aunty Vera reads everything you put up. What were you thinking? Delete it, NOW.
  • What do you wish you could change about yourself in all of this?  You need to find yourself a different attitude my girl, don’t you think?
  • What makes you feel a bit better about all of this? Do you want $10 for a Subway?
  • What’s the most frustrating part of it all?   You need to stop answering back and calm yourself down. Why don’t you go outside and get some fresh air?
  • What do you think people don’t understand about this?  Maybe I should text you? Maybe then you’d answer me when I ask you a question. Would you rather I text you? Is that it?
  • What do you wish you could change about yourself in all of this?  You want to be careful. Put something on You Tube, and that’s it. Forever. Everyone can see it. It doesn’t look good, does it?
  • What is coming up in your week that will be hard?  Don’t be dramatic, just get some early nights. Have you had plenty of water today? You look dehydrated.
  • Why do you think that made you so mad/upset/worried?   Can’t you see that you need to start spending more time in the real world and less time on your phone? It’s not all smiley emojis and thumbs up in this house you know. I won’t tell you again, empty the bins.
  • Is there someone else you would like to talk to about this?  Do you even remember how to hold a face to face conversation with a human being?
  • What helps you cope?  Do you want to come for a coffee? Don’t worry, they have wifi.
  • This might seem like a dumb question, but do you know why you are most upset about that?   Why do you talk to me like I’m a moron?
  • What times of day are the hardest for you?  Tired? Well maybe if you tried getting to bed earlier at night, like a normal human being, you wouldn’t be snottering in bed every morning. Get up. Now.
  • What can I do to help?  Want to hear my cat with a speech impediment voice?
  • If you had unlimited powers to change things, what would you do?  Shall I keep this Harry Potter wand and cloak? You might want to play with it again one day. I’ll put it in the spare room then. Just in case.
  • What are your options?  We love you so much. Don’t ever forget that, will you? Leave the bins today. You’re Dad’ll do them.

How did you do? Better than me I hope.

The truth is, we do have to ask our teenagers the right questions. It’s just that we also need a little manual on how to react to the answers. Maybe an App of some sort. Nothing out there for that though, is there Johnny boy?

I’m thinking something along the lines of this:

Q: What helps you cope?

Teenager: Being left alone with plenty of food and unlimited data.

Wrong answer from us: Cheeky swine! Wouldnt we all like to while away the day doing exactly as we damn well pleased...

Right answer from us: Well there’s plenty of food in the fridge just help yourself, and I’ll phone your Dad and tell him to increase the data plan. I’ll give you a knock when I’ve finished slaving away in the kitchen making you some more food. Love you, sweetheart.

Q: What is coming up in your week that will be hard?

Teenager: Life.

Wrong answer from us: When I was your age I was humping a pig to get a free pony ride

Right answer from us: Yes. Life is hard. Even though your Dad works his ar*e off and I have given up on ever earning another penny in order to homeschool you, it’s tough. Take the week off. Relax.

Q: What do you wish you could change about yourself in all of this?

Teenager: I wish I were 21. With a billion You Tube Subscribers. I wish I were a millionaire. And, I wish I could always sit in the front.

Wrong answer from us: Well your bloody well not. You’re 16, you need to pass these exams otherwise you’ll be a dropout and people will blame me for homeschooling you. I’ll give you $30 to cut the grass.It’s not your turn.

Right answer from us: How about we treat you like a 21-year-old? You are mature enough after all. We will give you everything you need, including buying you more subscribers. And I’ll put your sister in the boot from now on.

Hhmm. How about it? Think it’d work?

Let’s all make a point of not just asking the right questions but also reacting to the answers with kindness.

I’ve got a week of niceness left. I’m going to try it. This will be the new me.

And if it fails?

I’ll be climbing into that bloody computer, running after Johnny with a knife.

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R is for Hoppit

How to be a middle aged parent and still relate to your teenager (ish).

Teenage Slang

It’s bad enough that I’m a middle-aged parent. The wrong side of 45. That I homeschool my kids and so therefore only get to speak to another adult when the farmer needs help shifting the cows.

It’s hard enough that  I emigrated from a trendy, city chic lifestyle in the heart of Bath a decision that I  have to justify to my kids every time I get the HP sauce out. An hour from the city lights by train. Yes. There were trains. Real ones. With buffet cars and everything.

I moved myself and my family to the furthest region that sits at the furthest tip of the country that sits at the furthest end of the entire world. And from there, built a house in the shadow of a volcano, up along a really long road that takes ages to get to.

All of these factors regardless that they were definitely the best decisions of my life can leave a particular woman feeling isolated. Remote. Secluded. Cut off. Not with it.

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Can you help to move me please you middle aged cow.

It’s a tragic feeling to be 46, and to not understand a single word of what your teenagers are going on about. That is where I found myself yesterday. My daughter laughing away with her skypey ghosty, not real world friend. “HaHaHa! You’re suuuch a noob” she hooted. Even though, ten minutes earlier she had asked if she could skip karate as her stomach was cramping and she was probably going to need surgery.

Not just feeling like a silly old bag now, but making myself look even more like one, I stopped the wiping down of the kitchen worktop, mopped my brow and questioned: “did you just say boob?

I was given ‘the look’.

I remember when it was me that used to give those looks. When my mum asked me why I kept referring to everything as, ‘Rad!’

“Because it’s rad to say rad that’s why”. Duh.

Words like rad, ace, wicked and busted were commonplace in my vocabulary (in fact they still are, Christ Liz what a saddo) and no doubt they bugged the hell out of my Mother, but I didn’t pepper every single sodding sentence with them.

To be hip and cool and gain the trust and respect from our teenagers, maybe even become, you know, their friends (think Madonna and Lourdes, Vic and Cruz) we have to get down, hang loose, speak their lang.

Here are some wicked words or phrases that’ll take you to the party and I’m not talking the Tupperware one, my babes. So sit back, take a chill pill and read on.

  • Same. Here you go. Here’s one to drive you mental. Same literally means ‘I feel the same or I understand how you feel’. Being lazy arsed teenagers though, they do not say the full sentence. Instead, they just say the last word of it. “I think I’ll go to the gym today” “Same”.”My mums being a total cow” “same”. Or, the one that totally confuses the bejeezus out of me is: teen falls over and twists their ankle. Friend, looking on, doesn’t think to ask if the poor sod needs any help. No. Just shakes their head and says “Same”. What the hell is THAT all about??
  •  Streaks. When I first heard my boy say this, I was impressed. I thought he’d been doing a bit of 1980s history. Looking back at the dangerous life that I led as a teenager when to see two boobies running across Twickenham was the highlight of the year. But no. ‘Streaks’. A set of snappy, crappy, snap chat thingys that you keep sending to the same person. If you want a bit of a laugh, switch off the wifi before midnight and hear your teenager wail “Noooo! I’m gonna lose my streaks now!” Ah, Shaddap streaker.
  • Bro*. Friend/mate/pal . Regardless of the fact that my 16-year-old son was born and raised for the first 8 years of his life in Bath, probably the poshest city IN THE WORLD, he insists on calling everyone he meets, ‘Bro”. Being the open minded and respectful Mother that I am, I like to remind him, a lot,  that he is not actually a gangster in New Jersey, rather a homeschooled British laddy living up a long road under a volcano.*After doing my research, I found that the term ‘Bro’ has been in use since the 60s. Hmmph. I was obviously hanging with the wrong dudes.
  • Fam. (Short for family) Mates/ friends. Like an extension of the bro but this time referring to the plural. “I’m missing my fam”, “I’m with my Fam tonight.” Er, no, Sonny Jim. Actually, you’re not, are you? Were you with your family, those dishes would be done, you’d be practising your piano, and we’d all be in a mood. Like a real damn Fam.
  • Chur. Thank you/ hello/ok/yes/nice/goodbye. Confused? Not as much as I  am when every single friggin thing I ask my son, he answers with “Chur”. “Here’s your dinner.” “Chur”. “I’ll pick you up at 6.” “Chur”. Grrr. Chur off I say.
  • Beef. Issue/an argument/confrontation. I sort of get this one. I think. I sometimes describe people who are muscley as being ‘beefy’, so maybe it’s similar. “She’d better watch out, I’ve got beef with her” or “he is gonna be in such beef”. Do I get it? Nah, actually I don’t. Knowing me I’d get it wrong and say pork. Doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it? “Oi, porky! I’ve got a pork wich yooz”.
  • Lit. Amazing/good/cool. I’m guessing but am probably wrong, that this is an abbreviation of literally. Again, they just can’t be bovered to  say the whole word. Too much effort is not cool. I’ve heard it used in “This party is lit” “Do you want to come round to my place?” “lit!”.Excuse me if I sound like a divvy but I don’t get it.  Lit what?? A fire? A ciggy? English Lit? Lit, tit, fit, sh*t to that I say.

So there they are then. Learn those, and you’re on the road to a Maddy and cruisey relationship. No more will your teenagers look at you as though you are the oldest, slowest, most boring dinosaur that crossed their dirty sock studded path.

You’ll be rockin’ and rolling. You’ll be Fan dabee dozie. Trust me. I know these things. There’s no one cooler than me. Yooz are my fam now, yooz are lit. I got no beef with yooz. Chur fam.

Kind regards, Liz.

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Hiding in my bedroom so the fam can’t find me…

 

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, when 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 , whatever .
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 hate each other .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.

 

 

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