Teen timekeeping



We are on a tight schedule this week. I am not sure teenagers appreciate these words, however. My partner has recently switched job location, which means the teenagers have to be ready to roll quarter of an hour earlier than usual in the morning. “Why not just speed up?” I suggested to daughter one, who tends to take at least 20 minutes in the bathroom of a morning.

“Impossible,” said daughter one. She prefers to wake up even earlier than normal. The words “speed up” are not in her vocabulary. She would rather question the very notion of time than get dressed faster. I fear she is not built for the 21st century where speed is where it’s at. Her mother, in particular, functions only on one speed – fast forward. There is no room for pause because if you do, you risk a deluge of emails and potential catastrophes raining down on your head and the whole shaky edifice of “work life balance” imploding.

Daughter two is a little faster than her sister, but is starting to take after her. She goes to bed with her face covered in toothpaste [apparently an acne cure] and dips her eyelashes in olive oil. Her eyebrows are getting bigger by the day.

It’s not just mornings that are tight. This week I have multiple work life overload to contend with. Daughter two has a netball match which we tried to get out of due to logistics issues, but which we have now sorted. The cat is limping and needs taking to the vet. He seems to be constantly injuring himself in fights, although I don’t think he is the instigator. It looks quite peaceful in the garden, but beyond that it is total warfare. He has not been his usual relaxed presence in the home workplace where he occupies the role of sleeping work partner, occasionally raising his head in a bored manner when there is a moment of technology-inspired tension.

I’ve got Skype calls timed to the second, a rare non-work-related night out for a leaving party at which I could well fall asleep and a parents evening to go to which all require people to come out from school on time.

We have a system for secondary school. I arrive, normally at the same time each day after primary pick-up, and text “car park” to the relevant teenagers. Sometimes, for added excitement, I text car park! and sometimes even car park!! just to keep them on their toes. I reserve capital letters for when car park!! doesn’t work. People have got very blase about responding to said text and meander out around 10 minutes later, having apparently “been in the library” where there is no phone connection, so I am told. By this point we have listened to One Direction’s last two CDs around 100 times and are going slightly barmy.

I have informed the teenage contingent that they need to be punctual and highly responsive to the car park message this week. I am not overly optimistic.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of workingmums.co.uk.

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