The second week of the school holiday is halfway through and my workroom is now my sanctuary. An escape from teenage boys and their attitude. A refuge from the urge to grab their scrawny, knobbly necks and bang their heads together (an urge usually brought about after being on the receiving end of 'the look', a teenage specific phenomenon that seems to arrive with their first dose of hormones)
I'm probably not the most even tempered person I know, so for the sake of my sanity, my sorely abused vocal cords and fear of social services I've discovered the best course of action for me to take is retreat. Not the tail between the legs kind of course, that would signify some sort of defeat. No I depart with a flourish, a dramatic exit whilst levelling a look of my own. Gloria Swanson would be so proud.
Yes, it's sad to say, but that's what family life had become in the last few months. A constant battle of wills between adults and wannabes. I'm not quite sure where my sweet little boys have gone. I'm now living with untidy, uncommunicative, cantankerous, nocturnal, slightly sniffy eating machines. But for every moment I feel frustrated and angry I also suffer for them. Can I remember what it was like to be a teenager? Only in the vaguest, dimmest recesses of my memory banks, filed under 'never again'.
Those fledgling steps from childhood when everything starts to change. Limbs grow long and gangly, the resulting clumsiness probably one of the reasons why teenagers skulk about, they have no control so decide to lounge in one place to prevent accidents. Tripping up all the time is so not cool. Bodies sprout lumps and bumps and hair in new places, embarrassing when it happens, embarrassing when it doesn't. A lose lose situation.
Suddenly they are more aware of their friends of the opposite sex and an awkwardness enters the conversations, so communication degenerates in to grunts. And just when they want to attract attention Mother Nature at her most perverse, and no doubt giggling maniacally up her sleeve, switches on the oil slick. Hair and faces suffer the brunt, and there goes eye contact for a few years. Orthodontists lend a hand in the transformation. My no.1 son had his braces fixed at the beginning of the month and I haven't seen him smile since.
It's not just physical changes they have to cope with. Throughout their childhood situations have presented themselves as black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. Now, as their reasoning develops they are confronted with a myriad shades of grey. So many choices to make and no guarantee they're going to make the right ones. And lets be honest here, they're going to make their own decisions, no matter how much information we give them about our own experiences. The uncertainty and pressure is so overwhelming it stands to reason there will be the occasional explosion, and as parents all we can do is absorb the blast and clean up the fallout.
The transition to adulthood has its traumas, most experienced by every teenager there ever was or shall be, some more generation specific. So yes, I suffer for them. Doesn't mean I still don't want to slap them about the head though!