Teenage mess? Sorted! This is our arrangement: Josie studies for her GCSEs, dance exams, music exams, does artistic stuff, cooks toffee, leaves the phone in the garden, loses her Oyster Card every three seconds; I follow in her wake and hoover up all the discarded books, ballet shoes, sheet music, paints, pens and poetry, putting them back in their places. She thinks she's in control of her life. I get to walk on the carpet instead of wading through a soup of pants, tea-cups and hairclips. Simple!
And in case I sound like an idiot, a sell-out, 'not doing her any favours!' nudge nudge, guess what: for eight of her fifteen years I insisted on her tidying up, so that's eight years of nagging. She didn't tidy, or wouldn't, or couldn't. She is wired up to be dreadfully, painfully, continuously, untidy. And she doesn't like being that way, either. She would just look at me and say 'I'm sorry, Mummy'. That was the killer.
Of course I wonder what will happen when she leaves home. And it's not easy letting her get away with murder, though we do have a gentleman's agreement that allows me to vomit unspeakable insults in her direction every now and again which she takes on the chin until I reign in my darker side for another few weeks: 'You are a complete SLOTH!' was this morning's wake-up call, which she isn't, but the horrible words hang in the air. How could I speak to her like that? I am a monster! And on the morning of her Physics! Which as it happens was a ‘disaster’ because the meanies have again tested her on material she hasn’t been taught (?). No time to dwell, we’re all off to see her read a poem at the school tonight, the culmination of a year of extra-curricular extra-enriching creative writing which she signed up for before 90210 got really good. The little ones are dead excited (‘How much will you pay us, we’re missing our TV time’)and Maddy’s happy to come along given the shed load of noisy snacks I’ve packed to annoy the audience, and reckons (correctly) I’ll be past caring about homework when we get back.
The school has laid on biscuits and juice! Bonnie and Alfie run for the snacks table and there's a tussle over the carton resulting in a spill on the carpet, hastily splodged up by you know who while they grab the big comfy chairs at the front meant for important people. A hush falls and the Writer in Residence introduces the evening, warmly welcoming the children (crikey, don’t let me down guys). The readings proceed, themed as expected around teenage angst and despair. Bonnie realises she is not the centre of attention so puts things right with a stage whispered ‘This is very boring’. She walks ceremoniously over to the digestives, takes a stack, refills her juice, then returns to her revolving chair to begin spinning, faster and faster, until the centrifugal force ejects her juice in an ark around her.. but all good things come to an end, and the applause is that enthusiastic, it even swamps Alfie’s yowling yawns. I plan to say ‘thank you’ to the Writer in Residence and a chummy ‘you know how it is with kids, haha!’ but he averts his eyes, so maybe he doesn’t..
Back home to a fresh layer of detritus on Josie's floor, I congratulate her on her poem reading, simultaneously kneeling in some tea she spilt and forgot about...'Oh Mummy, I'm so sorry, I forgot about that, I was in a rush...'