WIPING baby sick from your cleavage or reeling from a tot’s tantrum, you may wish your kids would just grow up.
But blogger and author Gill Sims reckons those early-years challenges pale in comparison with the door-slamming, eye-rolling and alcopop-induced vomit that tearaway teenagers often thrust upon their parents.
The teen years can be as tough as any for Mum and Dad to cope with — and now Gill’s third novel, Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****, offers a hilarious insight into the likely main areas of conflict during this famously turbulent period.
Gill, whose two children are now almost through their teenage years, also assures the reader: “You will get through those years and then, hopefully, you will have an independent human being that you can feel a tiny bit proud of because you helped make that person.”
Here Gill, whose two previous Why Mummy novels were bestsellers, shares her top tips for getting through the terrible teen years with your relationship with your kids — and your sanity — both intact.
You will be wrong
AS far as your teenager is concerned, everything you say, everything you wear, everything you do is WRONG.
If you like something, or enjoy something, it is immediately rendered unspeakably awful.
Use this to your advantage. Your son has dyed his hair pink? The more you rail against it, the more he will like it. The moment you exclaim: “Darling, I love it, it really suits you, I might do the same,” you have ruined it for him.
The same goes for inappropriate/hypothermia-inducing outfits.
Nothing will send them scuttling off to get changed faster than a well-timed, “Love that skirt/top/eyeliner” comment.
Not telling you everything
HOWEVER close your relationship with your teenager, however much you convince yourself they are being open and honest, you will not be getting the full picture.
This doesn’t necessarily mean they are hiding dark and terrible secrets from you — it’s just the start of them forging some independence.
Don’t be offended if they block you on Instagram, if only to re-add you every now and again to stalk what you’ve been posting.
If you really want to know what is going on in their lives, it’s amazing what you can glean from three teenagers in the back of a car on the way home from a party — who seem to think the act of driving causes temporary deafness in their parents.
You just don’t understand them
AS far as they are concerned, how could you possibly ever understand them?
No teenager can accept their parents were once this age and might still recall what a confusing, sometimes frightening time that was — between the surges of hormones, the social anxieties, the new and terrifying world of sex, or even just snogging. “D’you think he likes me? No, but do you really think he likes me? I mean, like, likes me, likes me?”
Although today’s teenagers have all the added extras of Instagram, Snapchat and various other social media to contend with, that we can’t begin to fathom, the basic worries are pretty much the same as we had. They are fitting in, kicking against boundaries and starting to find out who they are as people.
But as far as teenagers are concerned, their parents were born old and have no idea how they are suffering, because they are just, like, so unique and, like, special.
Endure the eye-rolling and just try to console yourself a little by remembering how you rolled your eyes in just the same way at your own parents.
You should know everything but told you know nothing
YOU will be expected to know the whereabouts of any lost item at any given moment in time, and provide in-depth Google-style answers about bus and train times, shop opening hours, cinema listings and any other practical answers they could perfectly easily find out for themselves by utilising one of the many electronic devices they constantly have to hand.
But woe betide you if you try to offer any “helpful” advice such as “the 5.43pm train is always very busy, you might be better off waiting for the next one” — because obviously you are far too stupid to offer an opinion on anything.
This is all the more galling when they then announce blithely that actually they are going to do X, Y and Z, which you JUST SUGGESTED — and act like it was totally their own idea and nothing to do with you.
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There will be moments of light
JUST as you feel you cannot stand one more day of the door-slamming and eye-rolling and think it would be less painful to just slam your head against a brick wall, they turn around and drop in a casual, “Love you, thank you, you’re the best”. Or give you a surprise hug. Or tell you a funny, though usually inappropriate, joke. Or confide a secret in you.
You then get a glimpse of the person they are in the process of becoming — and suddenly it all seems worthwhile. Until you open the fridge to find they inhaled its entire contents. Again.
Meet the author
GILL Simms is the author of a parenting blog and a Facebook site, both called Peter and Jane.
Her novels Why Mummy Drinks and Why Mummy Swears were both in the Top Ten of the Sunday Times bestseller chart.
Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A **** is out now in hardback, £12.99, Harper Collins.