By Angie Jacobs
As the years go by, my kids’ ability to run circles around me increases.
A comment such as: “If my memory serves me correctly…” elicits the response: “Oh dear” and my attempts at discipline are often what my Gruesome Twosome would call “epic fails”.
I need to be firmer. ‘Groundation’ is the current punishment of choice, but I need to work on my timing. There is no point grounding her during her exam period, (“like I go out anyway”), or him to suit his social life, (“but it’s Amy’s birthday and it’ll spoil it for her if I don’t go”).
After 17 and 14 years respectively, they know my weaknesses – namely humour and cuddles. Making me laugh or sitting on my lap and claiming “love you, Mummy” works wonders as long as I’m not on a 500-calorie day. (still not quite mastered the “5 and 2” diet, but that’s another story.)
My mum reckons she knows better and often tells me how I should be stricter with them. Granted, my sister and I have turned out perfectly, but let’s take a little look back to the summer of 2005 when Mother took us on a family holiday to Portugal.
Ethan was five at the time and a very naughty boy. One afternoon, he pushed us all that bit too far and he was going to be punished. He would miss fun time by the pool and have to stay in the flat with Grandma (no hardship for my mum – Mark Spitz she ain’t). On our arrival back at the flat, we found the pair colouring, sticking and puzzling. One-on-one quality time for the both of them. Yeah, that’ll teach him to be cheeky. Individually they are strong; together they are an almighty force
What we call the “Whipsnade Effect” never fails to surprise me. Again, let me take you back to the early years, when both the little darlings were in their car seats on the way back from a long day’s zooing.
The little schnip had driven his big sister to despair the whole day long. Enough was enough. I needed to show her that his behaviour would not be tolerated. From the driver’s seat I let rip. Like Violet Elizabeth Bott, I screamed and screamed and screamed. He cried and cried and cried.
Ten minutes later, I looked in the rear-view mirror, to see her holding his hand and telling him that everything would be okay. Now in the Teen Years I am still the baddie. You tell one off for bad behaviour towards the other and within minutes they’ve got each other’s backs. What do I know?
Apparently it’s all different now. “Yes,” I reply, “Of course. We never had sex, drugs and rock and roll. You invented it.” (I intentionally use the generic term in a flippant manner, attempting thereby to make out that yes, it existed in my day, but apart from the rock and roll, it was only the other kids doing it.)
Sadly, I have given up on the idea of a family holiday until we can up the ante to a world cruise or Australia.
Instead, they are both going on camps with youth movements, my daughter finally able to use her, shall we say, assertiveness skills as she will be leading a group of nine and 10-year-olds. But then there’s the “holiday” holiday. After “Tour” in Year 11, it has become a rite of passage for some teenagers to go to a once-quiet Spanish or Greek resort and um… paint the town red.
My son was very excited about where his older sister might venture after camp. “So Mum,” said he. “It’s either going to be Ooh Aah Malia, No Panties in Zante or Shagaluf.” You can imagine my relief when she decided to book Marbella.
I’m under no illusion that there may be partying and drinking. However, there will also be some nice Jewish boys there and parents who are not just following them for a TV show. We toyed with the idea of also going to Marbs too, obvs, but we just couldn’t do it to her (or ourselves).
So it’s me and Tone, home alone again in August. After last year’s watching TV outside, we’ve managed to come up with something even more wild and exciting this time – we’re going vegan for two weeks. Apparently you lose lots of weight, save money and feel very righteous. Bring it on.