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Parenting teenagers means being on hand to talk through relationship ups and downs.
Parenting involves a multiplicity of specialist skills and roles. This week relationship counsellor. I’m not sure it’s a role I’m very good at. I keep putting my big feet into what are very delicate, ever-moving situations. It doesn’t help that all this coincides with important school/university admissions times, making it all very hard to focus.
I reckon my job is just to be in charge of the tissues, hot chocolates and rom com DVDs when the right time comes.
I decided at one point over the weekend that I needed to rerun my sex education talk as, with four children, I can never quite remember if I’ve kept all of them in the loop. It was the same with the whole Santa/tooth fairy thing. I could never remember which child wasn’t in the know. So in I went to do the talk, but it turned out that the person in question had just had some bad news and was sitting in a pool of tears. It is not sex so much that is the danger; it’s the whole love thing and it’s therefore appropriate that it’s Valentine’s Day this very week.
The idea of Valentine’s Day is that you are unique and special to someone somewhere when the reality of much of young women’s experience – and the messages that they absorb daily – is that they are instantly replaceable. How do you adequately prepare someone for that feeling? It’s like the make-up thing. I rant on about it not being important when daughter three spends hours looking up the next miracle product. I say she is beautiful without it, but she is bombarded with information which points to the contrary as well as comments from people at school confirming it. All my ‘it doesn’t matter’ comments are pie in the sky. It clearly does matter. A lot.
Back to relationships, though. The relationship counsellor role is surely part of the long road to letting go. That means drawing on your own experience [on the grounds that surely life has taught you something], but not letting it cloud your judgement. There are many pitfalls along the path to growing up. Your children will probably not fall into the same ones that you did, but they may fall into different ones. Everyone, as Hannah Montana so rightly said, makes mistakes. Some are more longer lasting and devastating than others.
I’ve been in extended talks with other members of the family about relationships too this weekend, though the whole thing has moved on a lot since the old days and seems to rely heavily on snapchat messaging. If you add the possibility of misinterpretation involved in text messages to the already tortured game of second guessing what people actually mean it seems to add new layers of complexity to the whole thing.
Only son has been having a few friendship issues of his own, but he doesn’t seem too bothered about them. He spent several break times last week on his own, reading his book, but seemed quite happy about it. He called me on Sunday to watch him drop a pink bath bomb [Sakura] in the bath. He then donned a pair of swimming goggles and dived in, happy as Larry.
He had spent part of Saturday interrogating a poor assistant in the Apple store about the various makes of Apple Mac. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of technology and has been searching eBay for the cheapest model. He keeps trying to engage me in conversations about the ‘late 2008 aluminum Intel core’ something or other and I fear I do not give him an adequate response. He was very taken by the Apple tv in the shop. “Can we get one?” he asked. I advised that he wait a few years [maybe 20 or so] until Samsung do it at a fraction of the price and it’s third hand on eBay.