Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

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 

 

Teenage Torture Techniques November 18, 2011

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Before you worry that we are monster parents who are torturing our men-children, it’s quite the opposite.  We are regular victims of “Teenage Torture”, a tried and true technique used by adolescents to wear down their parents when a decision is not considered favourable.

We all know that as a parent one of our key responsibilities is to make good decisions on behalf of our children.  This is especially true when they are very young, and are completely dependent on you for everything.  As children get older, there is a slow and eventual shift to their own decision-making, and along the way you hope you have provided them with the right guidance, but also an understanding of how to make decisions that are on the whole the right one, based on considered thought and reasonably sound judgement.

And somewhere along this spectrum is the difficult teenage period, when they think you don’t understand them at all, and that you don’t know anything, (no we’ve never been a teenager have we?) yet somehow you are able to make decisions on their behalf.    A couple of recent cases in point, which have caused a fair amount of discussion/debate/angst in our house:

Pre-drinks on race day:

You would have read recently that we had to be very firm and put our foot down to stop a bunch of teenage boys descending on our home recently ahead of a Melbourne Cup Carnival race meeting.  If they’d been allowed to, they all would have bought along a 6 pack of beers and sculled them before going to the races.  Thankfully we quoted recent legislation that meant we could be fined $7,000 if we gave underage kids alcohol without parental consent so we were saved.  But we had to withstand over a week of pressure from Man-Child I to relent.

Christmas Holidaysfireworks

We recently decided that our planned Christmas holiday was going ahead.  For most, a trip to Sydney to see the sights would be exciting to say the least, especially when it includes such icons as Bondi Beach, and the Coat Hanger bridge.  However, when the said holiday includes New Years Eve then the trouble starts.  The objections list went like this:

  • “What do you mean we’ll be in Sydney for NYE?”  (OMG, my life as I know it is over, I have to spend NYE with my PARENTS)!!!
  • “We have plans already” (about staying up all night and how much we’re going to drink)!
  • “Can’t you just send us home on an earlier flight so we can be with our friends?” (and use the empty house for a great party).
  • “You can call our mobiles whenever you want to find out where we are” (they won’t know we’re not at home when they call).

Now I don’t know about you, but the men-children are 15 (almost 16 and yes going on 25), but we just don’t think it’s a responsible decision to allow them to fly home 3 days before us, and then to allow them to head off somewhere for a NYE party.  It’s not a responsibility we want to pass onto anyone else, and we’re just not prepared to do it.  We did explain our decision to them, and the reasons for it.  The timing of the holiday is driven by my new job, which dictates when we can take the break.  We also explained it may be the last time they want to come with us for a family holiday (unless of course we pick a nice exotic destination), and that there’s plenty more NYE’s to come.  But as I remember all too clearly, at 15 all you want to do is be with your friends, and NYE does seem to take on some ridiculous mantle of excitement and superiority over any other night of the year for some reason.  As we all know, when you get older you can’t even be bothered staying up until midnight sometimes.

Alas, having made the decision and booked the flights (totally committing us) we are now enduring “Teenage Torture”.  At 7am the other morning, just as I had finished making the school lunches, and was wolfing down breakfast, Man-Child II appeared to raise the subject again.  “Why can’t we fly home from Sydney early”…..etc etc (see above).  I don’t expect we’ve heard the last of it.  Likely it will be a common theme running right up to Christmas.  It reminds me of the days of toddlers, and tantrums, and the constant nagging in the hope you would just say “here, have the bloody thing and now shut up would you!”.

Girlfriend Sleepovers

The other great point for debate has been over having the girlfriend to stay over.  And we’re not just wanting her to stay at our house, but in his room and in his bed.  Call me prudish, but that just is NOT happening now.  They are still only 15!! To make matters worse, it seems this is now allowed at her house since they have been officially GF/BF.  Hmmm, not happy to learn about that either.  Both Father of a Man-Child and I are adamant on this, and refuse to give in, at least until he gets a bit older, and if they’ve been going out for longer than two months!  Nevertheless, the Teenage Torture methods are again being employed.  Man-Child II appears at odd times to subtly bring up the conversation yet again.

  • Can she stay over on x night?  Yes sure.
  • Where will she sleep?  Downstairs.
  • Why can’t she stay in my room, with my other mate too?   Because he’ll be on the floor and she’ll be in your bed.  No.
  • Are you serious?  Yes.  Then don’t have her to stay at all.

Teenage Torture is relentless.  It’s constant, always there, ready to test your resolve, looking for a moment of weakness in the event you might just change your mind.  The best remedy is Parental Persistence – just don’t give in once you’ve made up your mind.  It’s exhausting, but sometimes we just know best (don’t we?)!

Please tell me, are we wrong?  Are we being too prudish?  Does it really matter if the GF stays?  Should we lose an occasional battle to win the war?  Or stick to our guns?  Help!!!

In case you missed the related stories:  The Races and Girlfriend Sleepovers

 

Girlfriends for sleepovers? October 14, 2011

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kiss“Mum, I have a girlfriend.”  “Do you darling, that’s nice”.  “Can she stay over, in my room?”  “Of course she can, no problems, and I’ll bring you both breakfast in bed the next morning.”  Okay, that’s NOT how the conversation went.  But imagine if that’s what I had said to my 15-year-old Man-Child.  He definitely would have thought I’d completely lost my mind – he knows I’m not that liberated.

Seriously though, we did have the conversation recently, whilst on holidays.  Man-Child II innocently lobbed this fact over the dinner table to me whilst out a restaurant (I think he was using a public place to ensure I didn’t completely lose it given how the questions unfolded).  I told him I thought he already had a girlfriend, but now it seems it’s “official”.  It is a girl I have met.  In fact it’s the girl who lied to my face a few months back…..no wonder she’s kept a low profile.  Anyway, I can move on!

I was initially thrilled that he had chosen to share this with me, however as the conversation progressed, it became clear why.  It was so he could quite seriously ask if it would be alright if she stayed over some time.  But not just stayed over as a friend would, but stayed over in his room, in his queen size bed, with the bedroom door closed.  (I’m hyperventilating now just thinking about it again).

As I mentioned, we were in a restaurant, so I couldn’t lose it.  I didn’t want to give him an outright no and appear totally unreasonable (just yet), so I asked a few more questions whilst I tried to collect my inner thoughts.  One of which was “Are you having sex”!!!!  His answer was no – and I have no way of knowing if that’s the truth or not, but I am happy to believe him.   I also asked what her parents thought of her staying the night – they hadn’t been asked.  Hmmm.  I suspect they were optimistically going for the “Man-Child’s mum thinks it’s okay, so do you too”?

I know my son has stayed at her place before, but with a whole host of boys and girls, and he assures me he slept on the couch.  I recall speaking to the mother at the time who told me the girls and boys were well separated and her bedroom was in between – excellent arrangement!

Of course I grew up with fairly strict Catholic parents, who didn’t allow my boyfriends to EVER sleep at our house.  And my parents-in-law finally let me and Father of a Man-Child share a room at the beach house once we were engaged (oh and I was allowed to call them by their first names then too – yep, a tad old-fashioned and conservative).

So back to the decision.  I told him I wasn’t really keen to have girlfriends staying in his room just now, mainly because I didn’t want to condone sex amongst teenagers who aren’t even 16.  (No probs if she was to stay in the spare room downstairs).  He went to his father for an opinion, who was for once even more assertive than me and gave him a very flat NO!  Yay.  Man-Child continued to badger us for a couple of hours that night, reminding us that at 16 he will be able to do what he wants, but we haven’t heard about it again since.  I did sound like my parents when I said “It’s our house, and while you live in it, you abide by our rules”.

I’m sure at some stage we’ll agree to a girlfriend staying over in his room, but for now, it’s not on.  I even asked about his mates – he assured me half of them hadn’t even kissed a girl, so they’re years behind our man-child.   Great, we get the early developer!!

So what do you think?  Are we right?  Or are we too prudish for our own good?  When do you think it’s okay to have “sleepovers” of this kind?

Read about the lying incident here: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.

 

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.

 

Mother of a Man-Child: Uninvited guests after midnight! July 23, 2010

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After Man-Child I’s recent brush with the law, Man-Child II decided it was his turn for trouble – what is it with twins?  Fortunately this incident didn’t involve the law, although some of his friends may think I have recently joined the force, such was my police-like response to the event!

The night unfolded like any other, with my man-child deciding to ask me, no in fact, beg me if three of his mates could stay for a sleepover during the school holidays.  They always seem to leave these requests for the last-minute, which they either do because they think it’s more successful, or because they’re too stupid to consider the impact on anyone else at 14 years old – sadly I suspect it’s the latter.

As it was 6pm, and I had just arrived home from work, and was now faced with the task of feeding an extra three hungry teenage boys, I am not quite sure what possessed me when I said yes.  Perhaps it was the opportunity to do something nice for my son, having been on his back about a few things recently.  A mother’s guilt goes a long way sometimes – little do they know!

At any rate, like a true Masterchef I managed to whip up a perfect gut-filler of carbonara and mounds of garlic bread, that seemed to satisfy the needs of five hungry boys and my daughter.  They then retired to their lounge room for a few hours, where they did all the normal boy things (farting, snacking, joking around, snacking, fighting, snacking, Facebooking, snacking, PS3 etc), before finally taking over the family room at midnight when we retired to bed.

Like all mothers, I remain the world’s lightest sleeper, so I typically hear every noise in the house (unlike my husband who could sleep through a freight train in the middle of our bedroom)!  So it was that at 3am I woke to the sounds of several teenagers…..”Shhhh……Be Quiet…..Shhhh……Giggle…….Be Quiet…..”.  I decided that 3am was late enough, and they really should all be asleep by now, so I promptly opened the door and turned on the light to tell them all so.  What I saw wasn’t quite what I expected – the sight of eight – that’s right – EIGHT bodies all diving under the doona covers in my son’s bedroom.  Eventually my brain took in this fact, and then realized that the extra four bodies were actually FEMALE!  Yes, we had four teenage girl guests in the middle of the night – yikes.

I calmly invited the four girls to join me in the family room, leaving the boys in the bedroom.  After a stern lecture, during which I ascertained that they had each told their parents they were staying at a friend’s house (yep, that old trick), I obtained their names and that of their school.  I then explained that under no circumstances could I allow them back into the dead of night, and that I would need to drop them home to one of their houses, where it was more than likely I would need to wake the parents and let them know what had gone on.

Whilst down the other end of the house doing a quick change (I didn’t think I should drive them home in my pyjamas), and simultaneously briefing my husband who had slept through the excitement to date, I heard the sounds of four screaming girls making a quick get-away down our side path, and quickly realized that my late night visitors had in fact done a runner!   I was so furious that I actually got in my car and tried to find them, unfortunately to no avail.   What we did find was Cinderella’s boots on the back doorstep – so one of them certainly ran home with cold feet.

We then dealt with the teenage boys, delivering yet another stern lecture, and extracting an apology from some (sadly not all).  As the text messages came in thick and fast to Man-Child II’s mobile, I told him that the girls had done an extremely stupid thing bolting, and that I would now make it my business to contact their school and/or their parents to ensure the event didn’t pass un-known.

Over the following days, the tale unfolded even further.  Amazingly I received hand written notes, text messages and phone calls from each of the girls professing their deepest regret at what had happened and assuring me it wouldn’t happen again – yeah right, how dumb do they think I am exactly?  It turns out, not only had they given me the wrong school name, but also used false names, and briefed my son, so when I drilled him he actually knew what names they had used.  Pretty conniving isn’t it?  When one of the girls offered her mothers phone number during her apology (which I did acknowledge was brave of them all) I joyfully accepted.  And that’s when things got even messier.

You see in assuring me of her absolute honesty with her mother, I decided to verify her story.  Alas, the truth had been twisted quite a bit, and the trusting mother had fallen for the very fictional version of events.  Eventually more and more of the story came out, until it was discovered that in fact the boys had all left our house for a midnight jaunt in the park with the girls.  At 3am they had come back to our house because they were all cold – and clearly all thought we would be none the wiser.  I’m not sure how long they were planning on spending in Man-Child II’s room, but the mind does boggle.

Needless to say Man-Child II is having a very quiet quarter, having been grounded for an entire term.  His friend’s parents have chosen their own punishment – that is for them to decide.  Unfortunately the mother of the “honest” girl in question decided it wasn’t her place to alert the parents of her daughter’s friends at all, which does disappoint me, as I think that’s extremely irresponsible on her part, but I can’t live someone else’s life for them.

So the lesson?  Hmmm, I’m not sure there is one, except that what goes around comes around.  Once in my teenage years I crept out of the house in the middle of the night for a party, unbeknown to my parents.  But I was so terrified when I arrived home and had to sneak back into the house, I was sure my heart could be heard pounding three blocks away.  I never did it again because I couldn’t bear the fear.  LOL.