and Perry - Living in my house
Ah the Easter holidays - Jesus Christ has risen again, and so have the
kids - though it seems to take them a lot longer that three days to surface.
It used to be so easy when all you had to do to entertain them was find
a green hill far away, spread a blanket on it and give them a ball to
play with - but no more. During teenage hormone hell, if they deign to
be seen with you at all, it's only within the city walls of a UCI Multiplex
cinema. And who really needs to sit through Kevin and Perry go Large when
you've got them comatose, upstairs in the front bedroom?
I don't know - you start off having babies and despite all evidence to
the contrary, just don't realise that you'll eventually end up with a
whole gang of adults living in your house. When they're small, you worry
that they'll never sleep through the night - and when they're grown you
worry that they'll never actually get out of bed again. You fondly imagine
that, when they walk, talk, go to school and learn to wipe their own bottoms
that life will get easier, less demanding and that you'll get your independence
Forget it. It's bedsit land revisited. Remember that spotty chap called
Dave who never washed up, ate all your bread, let his milk go sour in
the fridge, but who at least had the good grace to pay rent, albeit three
weeks late? Well, he's back but worse - this time he's a blood relative
AND he has a brother.
Meet Bill and Bob - not their real names but those chosen while on a sailing
course in America after they feared their given, ethnic names would be
too foreign for their fellow campers to remember.
So who's Bill and who's Bob? I asked.
Oh, it doesn't matter, we can never remember - We just answer to both,
said - well one of them.
Great - interchangeable names to match their numerous other interchangeable
possessions which include socks, shirts, underwear, and more worryingly
still, a shared mouthguard.
They spend their days locked in their bedrooms restructuring medieval
civilisation on the PC by building an empire called Dorkdom; Lara Croft's
final revelation seems to be that of discovering ancient artefacts while
buck naked; and their Sim family is all male.
The rest of the time, they're bored.
They sulk, they slouch, they scowl and they smell - occasionally of such
copious amounts of CK2 that the pimps of West London must walk the streets
with fear. They drink Clearsil but disdain toothpaste - while soap and
water is avoided as though they'd been traumatised at an early age by
the witch shrivelling scene in an uncut version of the Wizard of Oz.
You suggest they take a shower - oh get thee behind me Satan. They'll
run the water, scrunch up the towel and spray the shower head all over
the wall, but they won't actually get in the bath in case they get their
They don't like black bits, vegetables, anything mashed, or anything they
have to cut with a knife and fork - especially if you've cooked it. They
do however, spend hours standing, immobilised, in front of an open fridge
door saying: is there anything to eat?
That mother on the Sunny Delight ad? I want to kill her. Put her into
a Nintendo 64 game and I'll happily spend a morning jumping on her head
in that suburban kitchen full of grunting, gormless adolescents. A happy
compromise, my arse. Give them water. Let them eat vitamins that come
prepacked in their own carrot, Or, even better, let them just not eat.
Could they not finish all the cereal, and still - at the age of fourteen
- fight over the plastic toy. Could they not eat the last of the bread,
or all the fruit, or finish the 5 litre carton of milk just when you want
a drop for your coffee. And when did they start liking marron glacé,
asparagus and Parma ham?
God help us all when they get a taste for vodka.
Even more difficult is that they stay up later than you - and their viewing
tastes differ substantially. After a decade of tucking the little darling
up in bed at eight o'clock and settling down to a night of ER, red wine
and supper on a tray - suddenly you've got a chaperone. Or two - who like
Buffy the Vampire SLayer and Channel 5.
They're sprawled on the sofa, slumped in between you like a pair of disapproving
duennas. They make gagging noises if you as much as hug, eavesdrop on
your conversations and feel free to contradict you in mid-sentence.
They don't want you to talk to their friends but they love yours, making
a heart to heart with your best friend an impossibility, because they
wont leave the room. They don't answer the phone until you are on it,
then they tie up your business lines talking to people they said good-bye
to at the bus stop, minutes earlier. And they don't pay any of the bills.
It makes me think of old Dave the dolt quite fondly. At least he spoke
to me politely. He didn't answer me back and tell me how unfair life every
time I asked him to bring down his laundry. Hell, I didn't even have to
do his laundry.
It's not that I don't like children, but frankly, when it comes to teenagers
I feel like turning myself into the nearest police station and confessing
to driving a MPV without possession of a maternal instinct. When they
were handing out self-sacrifice at parenting classes I was at the top
of the queue marked selfish and now I want some payback.
Why don't they just go back to school? However, this only raises the problems
of lost gym kit, orphan sport socks, and homework. I don't want to set
the video for GCSE bite size, I want to watch foreign films with subtitles
and sex. And bearing in mind that I also have two daughters who turn morning
in the bathroom into a biological nightmare, the only simultaneous equation
I want to think about is how to get everyone out of the door to different
educational establishments and various points of the compass, at exactly
the same time.
Especially when, just as I am about to leave, Bill - or maybe Bob, suddenly
remembers that it's dress as your favourite book character day at school
and he needs me to find him a non-dweebie costume - now.
It helps if you have actually read a book during the last school year,
I say - but never mind, darling. Look, I'll just break your glasses and
you can go as Piggy in Lord of the Flies.