Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Man-Child Truth Serum March 8, 2013

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hawaiian leiFunny thing about twins, when it comes to getting in trouble.  You see, to a point they will protect each other – I am sure there are secrets they both have and constantly threaten each other with – “I’ll tell Mum & Dad about (insert scandalous incident)”.   Basically they both have each other over a barrel, so it’s a bit of a Mexican standoff.

But as we recently discovered, if one should implicate the other, then it’s game on.  All downside for the men-children, all upside for the parents!  Some of you would recall my earlier post about the boys being caught driving their father’s car unlicensed (read about it here).  As it turned out, in denying driving the car in the first instance, and then being outed by the neighbour who told us who she saw behind the wheel, one of the boys accidentally dobbed in his twin, so they were both caught doing the wrong thing.

As you may recall, we quickly moved to find suitably serious punishment.  One of our sons had an invite to a party down the coast – he had been looking forward to it for some weeks.   So you can imagine what his punishment was can’t you?  Yep, no party.  He wasn’t surprised we picked that, but did carry on and plead with his father to be allowed to go (guess who’s the softy?), but we held our ground.  As we said, it’s gonna hurt.

His brother meanwhile lay in wait for his punishment.  Luckily for him the Big Day Out concert had just been and gone, so he avoided missing that.  But we told him we would wait for a suitable event that he desperately wanted to go to and he would be told he was grounded for the night (oh, we are SO awful aren’t we?).

A recent conversation with the latter man-child lead to an interesting revelation.  He could see we fully intended to carry out the punishment, to square up the ledger so to speak, in due course.  Like an animal with his back against the wall, he then went into survival mode.  And the following conversation ensued:

Man-Child (MC):  “You know you didn’t punish (Man-Child I)?”
Mother of a Man-Child (MOMC):  “Yes we did, he didn’t go to the party at (insert up market coastal destination naturally).”
MC:  “You know he went to the party don’t you?”
MOMC:  “No, he didn’t.  He wasn’t allowed.  How would he get there and stay overnight?”
MC:  “They had a bus.  I’ve seen the pictures on Facebook!”
MOMC:  “What!  You better be sure of this.  Can you prove it?”
MC:  “Yep.  Remember the Hawaiian shirt.  That’s what he wore.”

Slowly but surely the pieces of the puzzle then fell into place.  Man-Child II did indeed show me the Facebook photos of his brother having a great time on the bus.  And I did recall the strange Hawaiian shirt that appeared in the wash, and which I had asked about at the time.  I also remembered specifically asking Man-Child I if the party had been and gone (just to rub it in, knowing he missed it).  And yes, he told me some of them had stayed afterwards, but some had been on a bus to and from the party (at this point we didn’t know HE had been on it too).

So then we waited for Man-Child II to come home, and to drop the bomb shell on him.  “Sprung bad” as they say.  He was quite frankly arrogant about it, and then of course turned on his brother with the usual vitriol he reserves for him (it’s quite horrid actually).  As Man-Child II told me, “I have nothing to lose Mum, you know all the stuff I’ve done, so there are no more secrets he can dob me in for now.”

So that leaves us with two men-children that are still both to be punished for their earlier misdemeanour.  We are saving it up, because when we least expect it the most wonderful occasion will present itself and we will pounce.

In the meantime, I am quietly pleased that the truth has revealed itself in this way – who would have thought we could rely on them so often to dob themselves in.  It’s brilliant! 🙂

My twin sister got me (actually us) in trouble once (big, big trouble).  It’s a scandal too horrid to write about here, but suffice to say I won’t forget it for a long, long time, nor the punishment that we received for it.   I did however quickly forgive her stupidity at getting us caught.  Shit happens as they say.

For the most part the small punishments handed out by parents over their lifetime rarely stay in the minds of their children (although at the time they cause so much grief).  But we continue to play our role, and they continue to play theirs.  Ah, the joys of parenting!!!

I wrote about the driving escapades here:  Joy-Riding Men-Children: Not Happy!


Daring to have “pre’s”! September 7, 2012

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party streamersRecently the boys made a rare request to host a “gathering” at our house. Not a party, but a “gathering”. If you have kept up to date with all my glossaries of teenage speak, you will know this is a small group of adolescents, gathered together for a social occasion, most definitely NOT a party (or so they will have you believe). This particular gathering was even more specific, in so far as it was actually for “pre’s” (again refer the glossary for the definition, but it’s what we knew as pre-party drinks).

The boys have not actually asked to host pre’s before, or even a gathering. I suspect it’s because they have what they would call the “world’s strictest parents”, and they just didn’t feel it was going to be considered, or they were too embarrassed to even have people here? Whatever the reason, it transpired that there was a party on in our neighbourhood that they were both invited to (in itself a rare event given their diverse circles of friends) and it was opportune to stop in for an hour or so for some pre-party drinks.

Now savvy Australian readers of my blog will know that to host a party and serve alcohol to under-age teenagers actually requires parental permission or the risk of a fine. You may well pass judgement on us, but we did allow our boys to host “pre’s” for a couple of hours at our home. For the record it was strictly BYO, we didn’t supply it to them. The party they were going to was also allowing them to all take in alcohol in “limited” quantities. So where would we rather they consume the alcohol? Certainly here is preferable to the local park (sound familiar)? And the advantage of hosting it was offering to supply food to the small number of attendees – there-in filling their stomachs and soaking up some of the alcohol. 🙂

The plan was naturally for Mother of a Man-Child, Father of a Man-Child and Sister of a Man-Child to make themselves extremely scarce, freeing up the family room as party central. One of the men-children not so subtly convinced me that the room needed to be de-cluttered (interpretation – can we remove all of 9-year-old Sister of a Man-Child’s artwork and toys from the room?). I explained that none of his friends would even notice it, but also agreed that we could remove it temporarily – it’s important when you’re a teenager to fit in remember. This stuff counts to some of them. His twin brother, being the exact opposite, was so laid back about the gathering he turned up 30 mins after all his friends and didn’t care where in the house they all gathered!!!

Suffice to say the pre’s were deemed successful. They all seemed to have a great time, and weren’t phased by the occasional presence of us in the kitchen. Sister of a Man-Child was adored by the teenage girls (“she’s so cute”), and Father of a Man-Child couldn’t resist talking to the pretty fillies, dressed up in fancy dress with plenty of bare flesh on display. He seemed to win a few fans himself! I played caterer and taxi driver to ensure they all made it to the party safely. And we notched up yet another milestone with our boys.

So, did we do the wrong thing? Certainly according to the law, we did. But with boys who are now old enough to drive a car, and boys who we know drink alcohol, are we just accepting that they are growing up? I guess it’s each to his own, for both parents and kids. I know some of my friends’ kids have less active social lives than my boys. Lucky them I say – there’s no rush to be an adult. But for us, this felt okay to do, and we made a decision and used our best judgement. And that’s what being a parent is, feeling your way every day, and facing new challenges with the breaking of every dawn. Sometimes it’s nice to see dusk trust me!

For the record, we have said no before, when one asked to host “pre’s” before the Spring Carnival races one year. Not on your nelly was the reply and for very good reason!!!! Read about it here.


Glossary of teenage speak: Part IV August 31, 2012

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dictionaryIt’s been quite a while since my last glossary instalment.  For those who want to understand what teenagers are actually talking about, read on.

Not surprisingly, most of the current glossary terms revolve around the things that occupy the lives of 16-year-old boys – their social life outside of school, and it would appear the list of vices that accompany that life!!!

  • “Chons” = punch-ons.  As in fisty-cuffs, fighting.  The stuff my boys do to each other most nights.
  • “Deck” = pack of cigarettes.  If they can’t afford them they smoke rollies apparently.
  • “Darts” = cigarettes.  Interestingly, we called them darts when I was younger too.
  • “Dope” = cool.  Apparently this was around years ago, but it’s only recently surfaced with my boys, now they’re teenagers, so it was new to me.  I suppose I should be thankful it’s not the real dope, otherwise known as “bud”.

Then we hit the alcohol:

  • “Pre’s” = pre-party drinks.  We called it a “pre-party” in my day, especially before formals; they have just shortened it further to “pre’s”.
  • “Frothies” = beers.  Pretty self-explanatory!
  • “Goon” = cask wine.  Apparently the drink of choice amongst many girls, because it’s cheap of course!
  • “Straight” = spirits.
  • “Jimmies” = Jim Beam (definitely a popular choice amongst the boys along with Coca Cola).   I am very familiar with this – the dishwasher recently had six glasses neatly lined up after we’d been away for the night, and one of the men-children had stayed at home.  The Jim Beam and Coke remnants were a tell-tale sign he had hosted “Pre’s” (see above).

And then the random and bizarre:

  • “Gacked” = drug-F-ed, but loosely also used to mean hammered.  Commonly heard as “We’re getting gacked”, and they assure me for the latter not the former.
  • “Rawt” = steal.  So apparently you might hear someone say “Went for a rawt at Bunnings”!!  I damn well hope that’s not my boys.

If you feel you need further education, you can read my earlier glossary instalments here: Glossary Part II and Part III.  And my first post on the subject: Deciphering Man-Child Language.

And if you have any gems to add to the list, please drop me a line.  🙂


Post-Script to Home Alone January 13, 2012

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beersOkay, I admit it.  Perhaps the men-children are more mature than I thought?  After leaving them at home alone last weekend, unsupervised for 48 hours, it appears that nothing untoward took place, and our house remains unscathed.  Maybe, just maybe, the boys can be trusted more than I have given them credit for?  Then again, maybe they just know that the price of failing our trust test was just too great, so they chose to toe the line?

Father of a Man-Child made the decision to tell one of the boys of our absence mid afternoon on Friday.  He said we were away Friday night and POSSIBLY Saturday night but we weren’t sure (sneaky I know).  In a twist of fortune quite frankly, his brother didn’t know until about 6pm when we were well on our way to our destination, and far too late for him to organise anything significant. 🙂

Father of a Man-Child also left strict written instructions for them (then they can’t say they didn’t understand what you said can they?):

  • No sleep overs allowed with no parents present
  • No gatherings of more than 5 people (read per man-child)
  • No alcohol permitted with no parents present
  • Curfew of 12.30am for all friends to leave our home

We sent a couple of text messages, just to establish their movements on Friday night – both home, alone, very boring indeed.  On Saturday afternoon, a casual text arrives from one of the boys:  “Are you coming back tonight?” instantly sending one’s imagination into overdrive as you would expect.

We discussed the response options open to us:

  • Yep, we’ll be home later today (thereby killing any party plans, whether or not we actually planned to arrive home)
  • Not sure, we’ll let you know later (ditto above)
  • Why, are you planning something you shouldn’t be? (like he would tell us)
  • No, we are staying another night.  We could bullshit you but instead we are trusting you.  Don’t let us down (that was my actual response)!!

So, we decided to trust them, and we decided to let them have some fun.  We actually rang them late on Saturday night (yep, mid party) to speak to both of them.  One had a few mates over, and one had his usual “harem” of girls over (including his girlfriend of course).  It all sounded under control, with no slurring of their words evident, so at least we didn’t need to panic.  Whilst we had requested that they have no sleepovers in our absence, we also confirmed with both of them that they were indeed having a couple of mates to stay – yep, totally inconsistent, but how exactly were we planning on enforcing it from 3 hours away?  At least that way we knew what was happening.

We arrived home to a relatively normal house.  No signs of it being cleaned to within an inch of it’s life, no breakages, no empties lying about, nothing really out of the ordinary.  Father of a Man-Child says he found a few “rollie” stubs in the backyard – and promptly threw out the evidence before I could do the smell test!!!  He thinks they were smoking tobacco – I am not quite so sure….

Our neighbour dropped by and actually complemented the boys on being well behaved in our absence.  As a father (survivor) of two boys who are both now past their teens, I found that very comforting indeed.

So there you have it.  I know it’s not very exciting blog material is it?  It would make for a much better read if there was a scandalous story about some wild party at our house, with major mishaps thrown in for good measure.  But then again, it’s also a refreshing change, and a sign that perhaps my little darlings are coming of age, slowly but surely, and that there is a small but visible light glowing at the end of the adolescent tunnel. 🙂

In case you missed the pre-cursor to this story, you can read it here:  Men-Children alone in the house for a weekend 


Men-Children alone in the house for a weekend? January 6, 2012

Happy New Year to all my readers.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  Well the Griswold Family have just returned from a great short holiday in Sydney.  We did all the tourist icons with the kids – Harbour Bridge, Opera House, The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Westfield Eye Tower, Bondi Beach, Manly Beach and Luna Park amongst others.  There’s no doubt being a tourist is hard work – it’s quite an exhausting holiday, but satisfying nevertheless.

Highlights for the Men-Children included doing the bridge climb (highly recommended) and jet-boating on the harbour, and for Sister of a Man-Child it was a photo with Maxy, one of the famous Bondi Rescue surf life savers, Luna Park, and seeing the NYE fireworks over the Harbour Bridge.  Much to the boys’ disappointment their plans for NYE didn’t quite work out as they hoped (they tried trust me), so they spent the night with us and our friends.  It wasn’t all bad as we were harbour-side to watch the Sydney fireworks and it’s not every year you get the chance to do that.  And we did buy them some alcohol so they could share in the festivities (Jim Beam & Cola being their drink of choice – Yuk!).  I have no doubt that will be the last NYE they will ever spend with us – and eventually just like us they will realise it’s a highly over rated night.

Having returned home, we’re all still in holiday mode and planning further escapes during January.  They boys have invitations to go beach-side with friends, and more sport camps so that should keep them occupied until school returns.  When an opportunity came up for a couple of weekends away with Sister of a Man-Child we both jumped at it.  One of the weekends was cleverly co-ordinated to coincide with the boys’ absence.  However, only at the last minute did we realise that heading away this weekend meant leaving the boys home alone.  And we hadn’t really thought about organising an alternative.

A couple of thoughts sprang to mind about how we might approach our absence:

  • Don’t tell them until the last minute, so they can’t plan anything.  (Or maybe don’t mention it at all and see if they call us to find out where we are – a bit of role reversal?)
  • Tell the neighbours to keep an eye on them and let us know if an impromptu party of 200 teenagers eventuates.
  • Threaten death if anything happens to the house.
  • Tell them we’ll be home on Saturday night (when it’s really Sunday night).
  • Ask the aunties to do drive-bys (do you think every hour is overkill?)
  • Panic!

The latter happened when I chatted to my twin sister and we both recalled the first time our parents left us at home for a weekend and “trusted us to do the right thing”.  Well, you can guess what happened can’t you?  Within 2 minutes of them leaving the house, we were on the phone to our mates organising a party.  And a great party it was, followed naturally by us cleaning the house to within an inch of its life.  A sure giveaway don’t you think?

Of course we got sprung – nothing to do with the stench of smoke and alcohol that I am sure permeated the entire house, or the motorbike divets left on the front lawn by someone’s boyfriend (I seem to recall his name was “Moose”).  My father (“hawk-eye”) wondered who had moved the fridge?  For God’s sake, who would have thought?  Naturally it wasn’t something we noticed was it? We blamed Moose – a mammoth of a man, and the only one big enough to do it!   I can’t recall the exact punishment metered out for this particular crime; there were quite a few over our teenage years.  We were probably grounded for a year or two, or perhaps it was the time when our invitation to go skiing with the neighbours to babysit their daughter was declined, much to our immense disappointment (and just quietly to our parents relief I suspect).

So as I post this, we will be on the road to our weekend away, and the boys will be “free” for the weekend.   If you should happen to see anything on Facebook about a party at our place, please let me know urgently (they’re not my friends on FB remember). 🙂


Boozy late night tales November 11, 2011

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horseThere are two things that make it difficult for my sons to get away with much:  one is on the occasions they are impeded by alcohol and therefore their judgement is very impaired, and the other is that I am way smarter than them!!

As most would know we’ve just had the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, which both the men-children attended with friends.  They did look rather dashing in their suits, along with 15 of Man-Child I’s friends who congregated at our house beforehand.  Man-Child I had previously asked me if he could have a handful of friends here for “pres” (that’s pre-event drinks for those not in the know), to which I was delighted to cite the new Victorian laws that make it illegal to allow minors to consume alcohol in a private house without the express permission of all parents.  No matter how much he tried to get around it, he was met with legal red tape and the threat of a $7,000 fine for us.  We declared a small victory on this occasion – just.

Granted on the day as I served chicken sandwiches in the warm afternoon sun I thought a cold beer would be perfect to wash down the said sambos, but the reality was their idea of “pres” was bringing a six-pack each of beers and sculling them in record time before heading off on the train to the racetrack.  As we tried to point out to our boys, if one of them then fell under a train we would be legally culpable.  And trust me, where there’s a will there’s a way – I’m sure they all managed a few drinks that afternoon and later in the night at the after parties (which is exactly where one of ours went)!

As is standard, we ask the boys to be home at a certain time, if they are out at a party.  Normally, the “curfew” is around 11.30pm, or midnight at the latest.  Which would be why at 1.30am last Sunday morning I texted Man-Child I to find out where he was, especially since he had a mate who planned to stay over here.   (Now I know how much worry I caused my parents when I was out later than expected, especially being a girl).   As he had spent the afternoon trackside at the races we were adamant that he come home for the night, thereby ensuring that he had to be in a reasonable state upon arriving home (yes, totally premeditated).

Not surprisingly, we had a quick text exchange:

Me: Where are you?  This is not 12ish!!

M-C: I’m at (friends), waiting for a cab…..

Me: You said (friend) was staying here.  Why are you at his place if you went to a party?

M-C: Can I just stay here? 

Me: Taxis don’t take 1.5 hours

M-C: We got a lift back here.

This is when I pick up the phone for a quick chat.  And then it starts to unravel.

Me:  Why aren’t you home?

M-C:  Can’t I just stay there? (Hmmm, why is he not saying “here” if he’s already there???)

Me:  Put on (friend), I want to talk to him (very trusting aren’t I?)

M-C’s friend:  Hello (Mother of Man-Child)

Me:  Why can I hear a tram?  (Knowing he doesn’t live near one!!).  Put MC back on please.

Me:  If you are waiting for a cab, I will come and pick you up now (oh, very clever). 

M-C:  Stunned silence…..Ah, I’m not there.  I’m waiting for a taxi (yep, sprung).

Me:  Get your arse home, in a taxi now, and then send your friend on his way.  And don’t lie to me next time.

30 minutes later I hear Man-Child at the front door, then back door, then front door again, texting me because he doesn’t have a key.  Given the state he was in, I doubt he could have got the key in the lock anyway.  He seemed to have an unquenchable thirst the next day too for some reason!!  Hmmm, we all know what that’s like don’t we?

The moral for my Men-Children:  don’t lie, I always find out.  And don’t lie when you’ve had a few – you make it too easy!!! 🙂

It’s not our first encounter with alcohol, naturally.  You can read more here: She Knows Everything.


Mother of a Man-Child: She Knows Everything! May 20, 2011

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“She Knows Everything” declared Man-Child II to Man-Child I recently.  Yes, they were referring to me, Mother of a Man-Child, who stood calmly in their midst, delighted that her men-children had finally conceded nothing escapes me!

Naturally Father of a Man-Child concurs – I seem to recall his speech at our wedding more than 20 years ago, which centered on the theme that his new wife would “always be right” and he would “always be wrong”, and that’s just the way it was going to be for ever.  This was much to the amusement of gathered guests and meant half in jest of course.  20 years on, I suspect that poor Father of a Man-Child thinks that he’s never spoken a truer word in his life, and he had no idea how prophetic his words would be.

So back to the story that led to the wondrous proclamation of my skills. 🙂  Man-Child I had been out to a party, arriving home before midnight.  I let him in the door just as a friend left our house; he literally bounced in the door, all smiles and slightly glazed eyes.  It took me less than a nano-second to process that information as I farewell-ed our guest.

Shortly afterwards I casually wandered upstairs to see the boys.  Our conversation went something like this:

MOMC:  How was the party?

MC-I:  Yer, good thanks.

MOMC:  What did you have to drink?

MC-I:  Nothing.

MOMC:  Don’t bullshit me (insert name), of course you have.

MC-I:  How can you tell?

MOMC:  I just can.  It’s not hard.

MC-II (twin brother):  There’s no point lying (insert name).  SHE KNOWS EVERYTHING.  Don’t worry you won’t get in trouble.  She’s okay with a few drinks.

MC-I:  Okay, I had a few beers.

See, nothing to it.  Out came the truth.  Apart from relishing the fact that they had recognised my amazing skills, I was actually pleased that he had admitted he’d had a few.  Having remained surprisingly calm (no real harm was done after all) it will hopefully ensure open dialogue the next time too.

Of course it also reminds me how naïve a 15-year-old can be.  I too was a teenager who no doubt also thought my parents would be too stupid to know I’d had a drink, regardless of my glazed eyes and swaying stance.  It was surely only me that could feel my tongue not quite managing the words properly and my brain synapses a little dull – surely no-one else would be noticing would they?

So around and around the circle of life goes.  I too had a “Mother Who Knows Everything” and “Father Who Knows Everything”. Obviously they taught me well!