Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

The Men-Children Really Do Love Me! February 24, 2012

birthday cardI celebrated a birthday recently.  The best bit about the day wasn’t the presents (which I’d shouted myself anyway), or turning a year older (definitely NOT a highlight), or the warmth of birthday wishes from friends and colleagues (you’ve got to love Facebook for reminding them all don’t you), it was the birthday cards that my family gave me.

  • The always-thoughtful card from Father of a Man-Child.  I swear he missed his calling – he should have worked for Hallmark.  Every card he writes for me (or someone else for that matter) always seems to say just the right thing, injected with genuine warmth and emotion that brings a tear to your eye, and words that cause you to stop and reflect on your life.
  • The gorgeous home-made card from Sister of a Man-Child, whose excitement was palpable, even days before.   “Mum, what’s your favourite colour?  Is it green, and yellow?”.  Of course I told her knowingly.  And on the eve of my birthday, almost bursting with pride: “Can I PLEASE just show you the front cover of your birthday card Mum”.  Patience won!
  • The wonderful card from Man-Child I , “long” by his standards (although he’s an amazing writer, I don’t think he enjoys the very personal stuff much), telling me I’m the best Mum he could have, and thanking me for everything that I do for him.  Perfect!  In a moment you forgive everything of a child when they say this.
  • And last but not least the surprisingly mature card from Man-Child II, talking about his own attitude as he grows up, and the fact that he is enjoying the company of his parents more and more, and doesn’t mind spending time with us.  And of course loves his mother, and all that she is.  This attitude change is a turning point for an adolescent, and really does represent a shift in the parent/child dynamic, an indication that we’re on the way to “coming out the other side” with at least one of the boys.

I know, you’re thinking gee, what will Mother of a Man-Child write about if they turn into nice people?  Don’t worry, they’re still adolescents.  One beautiful card doesn’t mean the trouble is over……

My wonderful day ended as it should with a simple dinner out with our children.  Pizza and pasta provided the perfect opportunity for the boys to carb up ahead of yet another rowing regatta, and Sister of a Man-Child was in gelati heaven, just proving that you don’t need a fancy restaurant to enjoy a night out and the simplest things in life can bring you much happiness.

Here’s to the next birthday – I can’t wait to relive the joy and love I felt on that day in another year’s time.



High Expectations? February 17, 2012

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salad rollA teenagers needs are pretty basic.  Feed me, clothe me, drive me, fund me, and leave me alone!  Simple really.  Oh and read my mind constantly.

So unfolded a conversation with one of the men-children on Monday morning at 6.30am that is pretty indicative of how “adolescent” they can sometimes be.

The first thing that popped out of his mouth:  “Did you make the sandwiches I asked for?”  Actually he asked his father for a certain variety, not me.  So no, I didn’t make them, because I didn’t know, and by the way he was pretty lucky that a Year 10 boy was still having his sandwiches made for him.  What are we, a tuckshop?  No we’re just parents with boys who are rowers who recognise how important their food requirements are.

“That roll is small!” This immediately followed the last comment.  Oh sorry, it’s only half a baguette, and yes it’s not the same size as the ones I’ve bought previously.  But it’s better than a sandwich isn’t it?  Sorry I bothered I am thinking to myself by now.  See previous point about rowing men-children – it’s all about fuel!

Within 60 seconds, man-child was heard from the laundry:  “Where’s my zoot suit?”.  (For the uninitiated, this is the all-in-one fitted suits that rowers wear – very “gay” when you’re in year 7/8/9 but somehow more “manly” when you’re in year 10.  Go figure.)  Now, since I had VERY KINDLY trawled through both their bedrooms late on Saturday for dirty clothes to wash, only because they were both rowing all day and I felt sorry for them, I knew the zoot suits had indeed made it into the washing machine, onto the line, and into the folded pile of teenage clothes that seems to live permanently in the laundry.  So you can imagine my response – silence! (Actually you could call it fuming, because I was).  He eventually found it, but not before he’d told me that the only one he found was his brothers, not his, and therefore that’s why he couldn’t find a zoot suit.  Yes, they still fight over clothes regularly.  And no they don’t put their names on them to stop said fighting.

It got better.  A minute later we had the same thing over the rowing t-shirt, which he promptly produced for me saying “You didn’t wash my shirt”!  Well no, I clearly didn’t wash your shirt – as any blind man can see because it’s filthy.  It obviously wasn’t on the floor, and so I didn’t pick it up when I was VERY KINDLY looking for 4 weeks of washing on your bedroom floor, you know the floor that the cleaners no longer vacuum because they can’t find the carpet!!  “Well it was in my backpack!”  Oh sorry, I didn’t go through every bag in your room looking for errant dirty clothes.  On another day this would be called an invasion of privacy wouldn’t it?  Clearly ESP and XRAY vision are two skills I need to add to my mother of a man-child collection.

Ah the simple joys of motherhood.  Slavery would have been a better option for some.  I can’t recall the last time they voluntarily thanked us for a nice meal, or for driving them at 5.45am every second day to school for rowing, or to a party, or for washing piles of clothing.  One of the men-children (yes the one above) sees it in very simple terms – well you chose to have children so it’s your job to do all this stuff.  Stop complaining.  I can’t wait to be laughing if and when I’m a grandmother to his children and he tells me how ungrateful they are.  The joys of parenting. 🙂

I do recall a similar conversation with the other man-child a few years back: Argue this Logic


Understanding Women – Tips for Men-Children February 10, 2012

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A (male) colleague sent me some information the other day that I thought was incredibly accurate.  It was called “Nine words women use” and described perfectly nine phrases often used by women and the real meaning behind each phrase (kindly translated for men).  Naturally I sent it to Father of a Man-Child and also several girlfriends.  It wasn’t until my blogging friend Mother Who Works suggested I share this wisdom with the Men-Children that I thought to publish it for the benefit of an even wider group.

So here you are, a rare but useful insight into women, the words they use, and what they really mean!


  1. Fine: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.
  2. Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means half an hour.  Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.
  3. Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.
  4. Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don’t Do It!
  5. Loud Sigh: This is actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to # 3 for the meaning of nothing.)
  6. That’s Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That’s okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.
  7. Thanks: A woman is thanking you, do not question, or faint. Just say you’re welcome. (I want to add in a clause here – This is true, unless she says ‘Thanks a lot’ – that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all. DO NOT say ‘you’re welcome’. That will bring on a ‘whatever’).
  8. Whatever: Is a woman’s way of saying F– YOU!
  9. Don’t worry about it, I’ll do it: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing herself. This will later result in a man asking ‘What’s wrong?’ For the woman’s response refer to # 3.

If you find this rings true, feel free to share this wisdom with men and/or men-children you know, to warn them about arguments they can avoid if they remember the terminology.  More than likely they won’t remember it, but like Pavlov’s salivating dogs, they will learn over time what each phrase actually means.

Of course you can also share it with your female friends, who will enjoy a knowing smile, because they recognise just a little bit of themselves in it. 🙂


Back to School!! February 3, 2012

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twins at schoolAs our unusual “summer” enters its final month, the kids this week returned to school.  And we returned to the daily grind of making lunches, 6am rowing starts, music lessons, and countless loads of washing every week – I haven’t missed it I can tell you.  Nor the peak hour traffic that results!  Whilst there was no excitement evident amongst the men-children as they headed back to school, I know they were happy to return and catch up with their mates after a few months off.  And they’re both pretty pumped about a big year of sport in Year 10.  (Let’s hope it’s also a big year of study for both of them!)

It seems every newspaper carries a mandatory image of twins or triplets or even better quads in school uniform, as they head to school for their first prep year.  It reminds me of our own front page photo of the men-children some 10 years ago (that’s it pictured for you) which was pretty exciting at the time, and really is a great moment to have captured for posterity.  I still remember the boys wearing their school uniforms home from the store, such was their thrill at owning one.  And of course the pride I felt whilst blinking back tears as we stood in the prep classroom and launched them on their school journey.  No less joyful was repeating it all 7 years later with our daughter.  They are moments you could relive a thousand times over and each would be as wonderful as the first!

In contrast to the boys, Sister of a Man-Child’s excitement was palpable at entering Year 3.  She even sent me a text message yesterday when she got home “Hay (sic) mum first day of school great.  Thumbs up”, complete with thumbs up images!  Now before you think our 8-year-old daughter has a mobile phone, not quite.  For Christmas she was lucky enough to get an iPod Touch (as a modern-day alternative to the Nintendo DS).  Whilst most people would think she would use it for music, it comes with so many other features she’s barely had the earphones on.  Why would you when it also has countless games free from the App store, a camera better than mine, access to YouTube, and most importantly the ability to text (via iMessage) and use Facetime with other iPhone/iPod users.  The ONLY thing it doesn’t do is make phone calls – seriously.  So when Ruby’s in a wireless environment, she’s practically got her own iPhone.  A “Digital Native” in the making!

emoji imagesShe recently found some friends with iPods or iPhones, and now they’re madly texting each other and doing Facetime.  The only issue is that Ruby doesn’t have her own email address, so she’s using one of mine.  As a result, all her messaging appears automatically on my phone too.  It was fascinating to observe the conversation unfold between three young girls, and see them helping each other text and use Facetime.  And then installing Emoji (an app for texting icons).  Now they seem to send each other hundreds of smiley faces and other images.  Although the other morning I was sitting at work with a stream of messages (complete with sound notifications) going off at my desk which got a little out of hand.  I ended up joining the conversation and asking them to stop, which took a while because we had to convince one of the girls that it really was the “Mother” texting.  Not surprisingly, we have now banned the use of the iPod before school and not until after homework is done in the evenings – like all fun and highly addictive “toys”, good in moderation.

So back to school and back to the routine.  And back to family meals which are a nice change, especially since during the holidays we rarely had both men-children at home for a meal.  No doubt the novelty will wear off quickly!! 🙂