Domestic Crime Wave
It's no surprise to me that crime is on the rise. I'm more surprised by the notion that the Government think there's been a five year lull. In the last 18 months my sons have been mugged five times within 200 yards of our house, my daughter has been robbed, my car has been broken into and then damaged three times in various hit and run incidents, and, despite an ear-splitting burglar alarm, our next-door neighbour has been broken into four times. You call this a low crime rate?
The last time the police came round they told us to be extra vigilant because thieves often work their way along the street. Though thatÕs a good deterrent, said the police officer, referring to the sign on our front door that, as well as scaring timid children and nervous old ladies, apparently also works on your jobbing, macho tea-leaf. It strikes fear into the pants of husky taxi drivers and gasmen. Even - praise-the-lord, door-to-door evangelists can be found edging backwards down the front path after theyÕve rung the doorbell. Amazing - all this because of a generic sticker the size of a 2-bar Kit Kat that reads Ōbeware of the dogÕ.
But donÕt worry, said my daughter reassuringly to a frightened friend, cowering by the garden gate.
We donÕt actually have a dog.
Oh yes, I am mother, see me roar.
However, mum as Rotweiller does not be deterring our home-grown klemptomaniacs. My kids may call me Stalin and think I've missed my vocation as a football coach - ("imagine, sheÕd be saying: what are you rolling about on the grass for? Get the xxxx up and stop being such a woose, thereÕs nothing the matter with you") but nevertheless we're in the midst of a domestic crime wave. But it's an inside job and
IÕm at as much of a loss as the Government to know how to deal with it. Our teenage children are revolting and the old totalitarian regime of screaming till your hoarse just isnÕt working any more.
The usual punishment for mild to moderate disciplinary infringements, the kiddie equivalent of a night in the cells, has traditionally been being sent to sit on the stairs for five minutes. Sadly, this stopped working years ago. One of our kids spent so much time banged up that he could have done an Open University degree. Eventually, he assembled books, toys and blankets on the bottom step and just walked there without being told.
As they've grown other the sentences have grown stiffer, but incarceration in a bedroom into the next life and beyond puts too much of a strain on parental society. By the end of a week of being grounded at home with sulking teenagers you begin to see the attractions of being exiled in Siberia. The next step usually consists of a withdrawal of privileges Š meaning that you give them lots of stuff for their birthday and then take it back a week later as punishment.
In this way Son No 2Õs long awaited mobile phone is now SIMless after a £280 phone bill. Then there are various game consuls - in and out of the attic like wedding rings at the pawnbrokers, for crimes as varied as ŌforgettingÕ to turn up for a pre-paid school holiday and over-use of the internet. Though how do you punish them when you find their legs dangling out of the attic as they surreptitiously try to get the television back for the Big Brother evictions? ThereÕs nothing left to take away.
However, itÕs the petty thievery that really infuriates.
You kind of expect your five year olds to be fascinated by lipsticks and frocks (or is that just my boys) but does my teenage daughter really have to wear my bras, my shoes and my Agnes b jumper? Her attitude is finders keepers - if it inadvertently turns up in her drawers then itÕs a little gift from the laundry elves.
But its finding the megabucks shampoo you buy for colour treated hair, empty, in a NIKE sports bag after itÕs been passed round the school locker room. Then your hair gel goes on hedgehog spikes, your St Tropez tan on teenage legs, your salt scrub on football injuries and your cleanser, apparently, works wonders on acne.
Currently, nothing in my bathroom cabinet is sacred.
Boundaries, boundaries, I yell as the only pair of nail scissors within a nine mile radius of West London disappear again. And whoÕs taken the fxxxing tweezers?
Oh that would be the little prince formerly known as unibrow. Now I know why StalinÕs eyebrows were out of control.
What ever happened to the good old days when teenage boys just didnÕt bother washing?
As a result Š security has been tightened in our domestic police state. I have a sticker on the top of my bubble bath saying Š open this and I will wallop you. And if a burglar does ever risk the dual threats of the non-existent dog and the fierce mother, heÕll quickly come clean. If he breaks open the combination lock on the cupboard under the sink to get at our valuables, heÕs in for a big surprise.
Behind the lock thereÕs a pair of nail scissors, a stockpile of shampoo and conditioner, my Eve Lom moisturiser, nail varnish remover, a small stash of Chanel cosmetics, and a razor with Š wonder of wonders Š a sharp blade.
My hidden treasure.
And itÕs alarmed.