Crisis: teens without phones…

Phones, phones, phones. Teenagers do not seem to be able to function without them. I went away for one night and daughter three and daughter two’s phones broke.


Daughter three’s smashed screen has been resolved. Daughter two’s phone, however, had major malfunctioning issues. Being experimental by nature [she was known as the mad professor as a toddler], she usually attempts to solve her own problems by taking technology apart. This is a bit of a hit and miss approach. In this case, miss.

She has spent the week investigating cheap alternatives on a site called Depop. Due to the fact that she has no social media or email – she has been described by her teachers as “an enigma” [she considers this a positive] – that means I am now signed up to Depop. We have been tracking one particular phone. It was offered at a certain price, but crucially the seller said she was open to offers. Daughter two took this as an invitation to offer a third off the asking price. “Would you accept xx?” she messaged, adding a couple of kisses for effect. There was silence. “What is wrong with Natalie?” asked daughter two. “It says on her profile that she is very quick at responding.” Hmm.

Daughter two then became slightly obsessed with Natalie. It was like Natalie had become a member of the family. “Any messages from Natalie, mum?” she asked every half an hour. I tried to explain that Natalie was probably hoping for something around the asking price or possibly higher. Several days passed. “No x,” came back the reply from Natalie. Daughter two did not take this as a definitive answer. “How low would you accept? xxx” she messaged. I suggested that this was possibly the wrong tactic.

In any event, by Friday she had a phone – an early Christmas present – and life was back to normal. This followed parents’ evening – the pre-GCSE one – the night before. Daughter two had had three ‘concerns’ on her report. One for lack of punctuality. One for misreading a question in Spanish and only doing half of it and the other for maths, daughter two’s long-time least favourite subject. “You just have to pass,” I said. “Or else you will be doing maths for years and years to come until you do. It’s in your interest.”

I’m not sure if this approach is working. The maths teacher asked daughter two what she thought she was doing in the class earlier in the day in an incident which involved daughter two’s hand and fake blood. It didn’t sound very mathematical. Oh dear.

Still, there was Good News from religious studies, as you would expect. Apparently, daughter two is great at arguing all sorts of moral issues. She is teaching her brother. I left her to babysit for five minutes while I picked up daughter one from the station the other day. Daughter three rang three minutes in. “It’s kicking off, mum,” she reported. Only son had protested about something daughter two had done. Daughter two had sat on him [taking babysitting a little too literally]. Only son had then covered his hands in yoghourt and lathered daughter two’s uniform with it. Suffice to say, I won’t be leaving daughter two in charge again.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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