Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Mother of a Man-Child: A Festival Hall Concert – 30 years later! November 26, 2010

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Who remembers Festival Hall?  That iconic place for performing Australian rock bands, enjoyed by generations of Melburnians over the years, including yours truly at a memorable 1979 Split Enz concert.

Wind the clock forward 30 odd years, and Man-Child I is asking me if he can attend a U18 concert with mates at Festival Hall next month.  No problems, it all sounds above-board, legitimately run etc etc, so yes he can go.  Next thing you know, as I’m halfway through making dinner, fielding calls/emails on the mobile phone, answering a million questions from 7-year-old daughter at the end of a school day, next thing I’ve got a 14-year-old boy with the laptop wanting to order the concert ticket online.  And rather than telling him to try coming back in 3 hours when it’s a little quieter, idiot mother drops everything and completes the online order, putting dinner (and my first sip of wine) off for another 10 minutes.   How do they manage to do that?

Now I mentioned my own experience as a 14-year-old attending the Festival Hall concert.  It was a great concert and we had an absolute ball.  That’s probably because we’d been drinking ourselves silly all afternoon on the banks of the Yarra River!  So without mentioning this detail to Man-Child I, I have outlined a few rules around attending the concert.  He must have dinner at home before-hand, and he’s not to ask to stay at a mate’s place that night (which he often does).  By all means have a friend to stay, but I want him local.  For good reason as you can see!

Recent events have led me to believe it’s very important to have my men-children physically “checking-in” at home on a regular basis.  Otherwise you’ve really got no way to know what they’re up to.  Just call me Inspector Mother of a Man-Child – I feel like one half the time!


Mother of a Man-Child: Is Cheap, Is Good! November 19, 2010

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Man-Child I recently ventured to the Spring Carnival.  This was the second year he’d attended the races, this year on his own with some mates.  Off he went looking every bit the dandy – gel in hair, pink shirt and tie and his navy pin-striped suit.   A suit that cost him $20 at the opp-shop – don’t you love it!

Of course when the idea of the races was initially raised, it was first of all about securing a ticket.  And not just any ticket, of course it had to be one that got you into the member’s section, and all the right car parks.  Fortunately, my father is a member and so was able to purchase one for him – so step one of the plan was achieved.

Second step of the plan was what to wear – no questions here.  Every 14-year-old boy in the members is decked out in a suit – and Man-Child I had similar intentions.  Unfortunately for me, the suit he’d worn two years ago was just a little too tight owing to a massive, but natural growth spurt (even Warwick Capper wouldn’t have worn it).

This first suit I actually picked up at an opp shop for $20, when Man-Child I needed it for a Year 6 school play.  I couldn’t believe when I found it, because it literally was a boy’s suit, rather than a man’s suit.  It fitted him like a glove – if I’d told someone it was tailor-made they would have believed me.  In Year 6, you can imagine all his mates thought his suit was awesome, and therefore all started visiting opp shops to find their own suits – alas to no avail.

Wind the clock forward, we’re now at a nice private school, with some moneyed friends, and the opp-shop option, or god forbid “borrowing” one is now apparently out of the question!!!   Grrrr.  My case was not helped by Father of a Man-Child telling him of course he could hire a suit so he looked like the stud he is and could pick up chics at the races.  Fabulous!  That’s male bonding for you.  Of course neither of them remembered it cost $80 for the privilege.

So off goes Man-Child I with a mate to hire said suit after I reluctantly agreed.  Naturally I receive the call about five minutes later from the store.  He doesn’t want the $80 plain black suit, he wants the $130 pin-stripe suit – I just HATE being fleeced.  Again, I reluctantly agree, recalling myself how important it is to look good and fit in when you’re 14.  He proudly shows me at home what he’s hired.  His mate is fortunate that his parents have agreed to buy him one as he had a few functions he can wear it to in coming months.

However, to Man-Child I’s absolute credit, and my delight, he tells me a day later he’s found a suit he thinks will fit – at an opp-shop.  I am thrilled – not just at saving money, but that he actually considered this was an option and got off his butt to look.  I asked if his friend was with him at the time, he admitted no, but was not at all too proud to tell him of his great find.  So he’s both smart and humble – now we’re getting somewhere people!!

Father of a Man-Child was able to check it out the next day and it turns out it was a pretty decent suit for $20.  So he bought it on the spot.  Now I must admit, by the time we paid for it to be dry-cleaned, and have the pants taken up and in at the waist a little, it set us back about $80 all up.  But for $80 Man-Child I now has a suit that will do him (or Man-Child II for that matter) for the next two years.  You don’t have to be Einstein to know we’re way ahead already.  And just quietly, I’m pretty miffed that common sense prevailed at the end of the day.  Just one of many lessons to be learned.

PS.  Post a long Saturday at the races, and a rather social Sunday for Man-Child I, he complained he was tired on Sunday evening and couldn’t possibly attend school rowing training on Monday morning with a 6am start.   He learned another quick lesson from me – your choice to have a busy social life does not mean you can elect to avoid any other responsibilities, especially school!  Who lets’ their kids get away with this stuff?




Mother of a Man-Child: Young Teens Running Wild November 12, 2010

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I was interested, but alas not surprised, to read a story on this week about a particular suburb in Western Sydney.  The story made headlines because one weekend police had set about rounding up all the roaming kids one Saturday night and subsequently sent no less than 55 young teenagers home to their parents.

What was most alarming for the police was the fact that most of the teens’ parents had no idea where they were – believing them to be somewhere else.  Some of the kids were found to be consuming alcohol, and a few using drugs.   The police rightly despair for these kids, and what other trouble they may find themselves in.  They are also rightly annoyed with the parents, for not taking more responsibility for their sons and/or daughters.

Trust me, you don’t need to look far to find similar behaviour going on, and it’s not contained to the Western suburbs of Sydney.  The nice Eastern suburbs of Melbourne will do just fine.   We have ourselves been the recipient of four female guests (aged just 14 years old) at 3am one morning – they had been out all night roaming the streets of Melbourne, and their parents were completely unaware.   And I know for a fact that several of them have repeated this behaviour.   I’ve also attended a teenage girls party where the parents were letting anyone in, along with their alcohol and cigarettes (and god knows what else) – and the parents are supposed to be the responsible ones!   Don’t worry I quickly turned into the door bitch and promptly turned the undesirables away.

I have to say I agree with the Sydney police – it’s time parents had a reality check and took more responsibility for their children, ensuring they are safe from harm.  As my readers know, we’ve had our share of trouble, but that’s with us being the “world’s strictest parents” and always checking up on our men-children.  Imagine what they’d get up to if we didn’t check on them?

Apparently “Operation Enough” is set to be rolled out across NSW.  Maybe I should lead the charge for Victoria – I know a leafy suburb they could start in!!!

To read the full story:


Mother of a Man-Child: Instant Gratification November 9, 2010

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What is it with Gen Z, the Millennial Generation – they want everything NOW.  Take my men-children.  Last night they asked if they could buy the latest PS3 COD (Call of Duty) game (“Black Ops”), apparently due for release today.  My first response was a simple “no”.  This was followed shortly afterwards by “Put it on your Christmas list”.  They thought I was joking – I wasn’t.

Now let me explain my problems with this request.  Firstly, the current COD game (Modern Warfare 2) is in my mind quite repulsive.  It’s rated MA15+, as it should be, and is a modern war game with explicit violence.  So lots of shooting, guns, soldiers, artillery, etc, but the piece de resistance is the blood splatters on the inside of the TV screen each time the player is shot.  Gross.

My second problem is the compulsion amongst today’s teenagers to have everything ASAP.  They are constantly seeking gratification – instantly.  They can’t wait for anything.  Unlike their parents (or more realistically their grandparents) they SAVE for nothing – they want to buy right now, with my money of course.  Give them a few years and they’ll buy everything on credit, or worse still on an “interest free” deal with hideous interest charges hidden in the contract.  Harvey Norman stands to make a fortune on them in years to come!

Of course in some ways they are a product of their environment – with the internet, they wait for nothing.  Information is at their fingertips, their friends are en masse via social media, news and gossip is instantaneously communicated via Twitter, Facebook, or worse still published for posterity on Youtube.  No wonder the thought of waiting for anything is ridiculous to them.

I asked the boys if any of their friends got the game today – yes it seems.  One of them (also 14 years old) was apparently allowed to go and queue at a store from midnight last night.  Another’s Mother dropped him at a store this morning at 5am to queue to get his order.  I’m not sure what they were thinking, but their priorities and mine don’t match.

And with Year 8 exams just around the corner the last thing mine need is another mind-numbing PS3 game to play 24/7.  In fact I’ve just unplugged the wireless modem to ensure there’s no internet for the rest of the month, and therefore no Facebook, but plenty of time for practice exams and revision.  I kid you not after 15 minutes sans internet both my boys are wondering around looking completely at a loss as to what to do, and searching for ways to avoid homework.  Clearly we should have done this sooner!


Mother of a Man-Child: Sleeping over at a GIRL’S house! November 5, 2010

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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.