When did teenagerdom start to begin before the teen years? Daughter three is 11 and has been suffering from what I am loosely calling hormones for at least a year. This induces behaviour such as stomping out of rooms, screaming very loudly and ear-piercingly, refusing to answer basic questions and generally lying about the place while leaving all plates and clothes strewn around her.
I recall my brother going through this kind of thing at a much later stage, with every question answered by a grunt and constant channel hopping so you could never get anywhere near watching an entire episode of Neighbours.
Daughter three appears to have developed a phobia about picking up her clothes. Improbably, I suggested to daughter two, who is very tidy and goes to bed every night with at least 10 potions on her including vaseline on her eyelashes, that she could perhaps act as a role model for those negotiating the painful transition to teendom. Unfortunately, just after I made this suggestion I found daughter two lying on the floor with a giant ball on her tummy and only son perched on top, giggling uproariously.
Daughter one, meanwhile, has moved beyond hormones and onto a higher plain. She can be found hidden in her room reading Marx and Camus and asking searching questions about mitochondria.
The other day I found a poem daughter three had written about herself. It used the letters of her name. The last two are L and A. She had written “Little bit/Angry sometimes”.
Only son has a hard time trying to negotiate all of this stuff, but appears to know which side his bread is buttered on. I was getting slightly frustrated with daughter three the other night after getting slightly frustrated with the computer insisting on indenting every paragraph I was writing. His response was to go to the kitchen and make me a cold hot chocolate. Only son is currently reading Horrid Henry and appears to be highly influenced by Perfect Peter, although the other day after he jammed the CD player in the car he was heard from the back saying “I really am sorry, mum. I feel like I have become Horrid Henry.”
Fortunately, we managed to get George Michael out of the CD player and all is well, though a few hours later only son also jammed the laptop and turned the screen rainbow-coloured. Uh oh, I thought, envisaging another trip to PC World. “It’s fine. I can fix that,” said my partner, who is not known for his technological genius. He picked up the laptop, tapped it twice on the underside and turned it back on. Hey presto. It was fixed. If only pre-teen moodiness was as easy to tackle.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.