At the risk of sounding prudish, let me declare up front – I don’t think my 14-year-old son should be allowed to sleep at his girlfriend’s house! There, I’ve said it. If you don’t agree with me, that’s perfectly fine. You are entitled to your opinion, and me mine. Am I the product of my parents? Absolutely! I’m a positive mini-me of them, right down to the fact that my men-children get away with not much, and I am “extremely strict” according to my boys.
But back to the sleepover. As is his devious way, Man-Child II called me all sweet and innocent to ask if he could stay over at his girlfriend’s house one evening. For once, he actually rang me in the middle of the day, rather than at 6pm at night – forewarned is forearmed as they say. This particular girlfriend (yes his second one – I’m still recovering from him having the first one), actually has a twin brother that attends school with him – oh good, I hear you think, safety in numbers.
Now I really try not to be a prudish mother stuck in the 18th century, so rather than a blanket “no” I asked if I could have the parents number and chat with them first, and then I would make a decision – not before! Buying me time, and him the opportunity that for some reason maybe it would be kosher after all.
But as is typical in Man-Child land, of course nothing went to plan. At 6pm that evening I called my son to ask why I hadn’t received the parent’s mobile number yet? Some bullshit story about flat mobile phone batteries followed, and him being separated from his girlfriend so he couldn’t possibly text me the number followed. “But Mum can I please stay there? Is it okay? I promise I’ll get you the number…..” And so yet again, under pressure, exhausted at the end of the working week, worn down by the relentlessness that is a teenager, I said yes. But I still want that number.
As it transpires, I was on my way to meet colleagues for a few drinks, so it was 8pm before I called home to check if my husband had heard from Man-Child II. Of course not! So I ring my son and ask some more questions. By now alarm bells had started to ring – Mum and Dad divorced (so of course they pick Dad’s house), twin brother nowhere to be seen, hmm, sounding more and more suspicious now isn’t it? So once at home (and still no phone call from the parent) Mother of a Man-Child goes into overdrive. There is nothing scarier than a woman whose son is trying to get away with something. So I called his girlfriend’s house – “Dad’s not here, he’s just out for dinner and won’t be far away, but he’d said Man-Child II could stay” – oh sure, and I’m the Queen of England! Thanks, I’ll just have Dad’s mobile number right now. When she told me she didn’t know it, I told her bullshit and said try again. Strangely enough that had the desired effect and suddenly she remembered it.
So I call his mobile – no answer. So I call back and demand the mother’s mobile – and don’t even think about telling me you don’t know that! So two parents that I have never met have messages from a complete stranger (but the boyfriend of their daughter) pleading for them to please call me as I’d just like to confirm that my son can stay for a SLEEPOVER (not that they’ll be getting any sleep)!!!
Eventually the father returns my call, and (not very reassuringly) tells me it’s fine if Man-Child II stays. And incidentally lets me know that he only found out very late (what a surprise). I explain to him that yet again I feel like I’ve been duped, by my son and his daughter, and that for the record his daughter wouldn’t be allowed to stay at my house for a sleepover (read between the lines – I’m sure you all get my hidden message). Subtle is not really in my vocabulary.
The best part – the next day his girlfriend’s mother returned my call, delighted at the chance to chat and exchange notes. I was so pleased to discover she and I are on EXACTLY the same page. She had already told her daughter no sleepovers with my son were allowed, and had even told my son off one night when apparently he let her daughter go home on the tram alone in the dark – music to my ears, a sensible parent not afraid to lay down the law. I’m not sure where I was because I certainly wouldn’t have allowed that either. And her relationship with her daughter sounded just like mine – full of teenage desire and parental rules – a recipe for fireworks every time.
So Mother of a Man-Child was duped again yes, but I did feel better knowing that I wasn’t the only parent in the entire universe that had some moral standards. And we both agreed parents must unite in the war against our rebellious teenagers – it’s what keeps us all sane, and certain we are on the right path after all.