By Angie JACOBS, Two Kids One Bathroom.
My more discerning readers may have noticed this monthly missive about family life in north-west London used to run with the title, Two Kids, One Bathroom!
But as we embark on a new year, I am updating this to Two Teenagers, One Bathroom! because that’s what we have: two full- on, hormone-packed bundles of teenageness. They’re as big as me and, impressively, eat more.
Alas, as for the bathroom situation, that has not changed, though we would still love to. What we didn’t take into account was how much they eat and how many lights they would leave on.
As my daughter says “hashtag first world problems”.
In the eyes of Jewish law, having had their respective bat and barmitzvahs, my 16-year-old and 13-year-old are adults, or, at least, accountable for their actions. My two? They pick and choose.
The short days are playing havoc with my son’s social life. At 13, he gets good value from his Oyster card and thinks nothing of popping to Westfield for a bit of clothes shopping. He recently patronised Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park after school on a Friday and we had a dis- agreement about what time he should be home. I wanted him home before dark, but his point was that when he gets home from school it’s dark anyway.
He got me on a technicality and would have won the case had he managed to get his oh-so-clever self back home at the agreed time. But we don’t live at Wembley Park Tube Station (where he’d reached at 5pm) and now he has to be back “in the light” on Friday afternoons.
When he has a wobbly tooth, however, he becomes the child again. The slightest movement of a molar and I see him schlepping and dreying it, his eyes like cash registers. That tooth is going under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy, make no mistake.
They say boys are more straightforward and whoever “they” are could be right. This is what happened when my 16-year-old daughter recently lost a tooth and never commented on the Tooth Fairy’s donation.
Me: Ilana, did you find that tenner from the Tooth Fairy?
Ethan: Ahem, £2 you mean.
Ilana: I haven’t put my tooth under the pillow, so why would I look?
As is so often the case, my legal eagle rendered me speechless.
Ethan: You’re so scared of her, Mum.
He’s right, I am.
If it weren’t written six years before her birth, I would have thought that Edward de Bono would’ve used her catchphrase “I am right, you are wrong” for the title of his famous book.
My husband had this book on his bedside table for years. He never quite plucked up the courage to say the words to me, though. Back in the day, in’t Yorkshire, there were house rules.
We have them here, too, but my two bright sparks like to overrule them with the bar/batmitzvah card. For some reason, doubtfully halachic, the Taylors would wait neither six nor three hours after eating meat, but would be straight to the fridge for Uncle Sam’s chocolate box in two.
Thirty years on, equally sweet-toothed and even less restrained, my two are bowled up with Ben & Jerry’s within far less time.
Me: Is that ice-cream? It isn’t two hours yet.
Horrible offspring: Er ….yes and we’re accountable for our own choices now, remember. And we’re low on Phish Food.
Only six-and-a-half years to go and they’ll have grown out of this phase. I do get to laugh some- times, too. I take particular joy from my mum’s in- advertent denial that her grandson is the owner of a deep, yet still slightly inconsistent voice.
“Have you got a sore throat, darling?” she asks him every time he calls. “No Grandma. This is my voice now, remember.”
When you have teenagers, you get love where you can. I admit I cook them great meals so they’ll like me. Apart from driving and finding things they can’t see even though they are right in front of their noses, for now, that is what I have.