OPINION: It’s a long schlep to work with my unpleasant adolescents

OPINION: It’s a long schlep to work with my unpleasant adolescents

By Angie Jacobs Angie Jacobs

Nobody likes getting out of bed in the morning, least of all a teenager. My unpleasant adolescents are 17 and 14 and as different as chalk and cheese.

In fact, it is Ilana’s alarm that goes off first so she can be sure she can fit in her full morning routine. She gets to her kitchen even before my husband arrives to make my coffee. Herein lies the first problem – it is her kitchen.

Two teenagers, one bathroom and one kitchen.

He works around her, careful not to speak if she is listening to the phone-in on LBC. But time is of the essence and he knows from more than 21 years of marriage that my coffee – fresh, but filtered will do – has to be waiting from me when I emerge from the shower.

Quite often there’s a teaspoon and the Sweetex dispenser next to it, just in case he’s forgotten to put them in. Gosh, anybody would think he is scared of the females in the house.

I go downstairs for breakfast and notice Tony has cleaned the cooker after last night’s ‘too many bean shoots for the wok’ stir-fry fiasco.

I make a mental note to try to be a bit nicer to him.

Ten minutes before we need to leave, Ethan gets in the shower, quite often taking calls in the bathroom.

The hairdryer blasts and then he’s back in the bathroom to clean his teeth. “Why are you brushing your teeth with your blazer and rucksack on?” Tony asks, but only gets a grunt. Leaving the bathroom waterlogged and all the appliances on, he comes downstairs. I try not to fuss, but invariably… ”Why don’t you have some breakfast? What about the Pop Tarts, variety pack of cereal and mature cheddar cheese I bought for you?” “OMG, mum, stop. I only mentioned once that I liked them.”

What can I do?

I’m from the Ready Brek generation. We need to set off at 7.40am in order for me to drop them off at school and then get to Golders Green by 8.20am to find a parking space (a ham and cheese sandwich would be easier).

I tell them we need to leave by 7.35am. At 7.38am I’m sitting alone in my car and I’ve sneaked the radio over to Magic FM.

I’m Not In Love by 10CC comes on and I finally realise that he is actually in love. How did I miss that? 7.39am and there’s no sign of either of them.

Reluctantly I go back in the house, where Tony is fighting anti-Semitism on Facebook. “TONY! Can you help me get them out?” Ilana trots out, complaining about the educational, UCAS and NHS systems, while Ethan tries to find his rucksack.

Again, I try not to fuss but enquire after his homework, phone, progress record book and warm clothing. We finally set off at 7.45am. It will be their fault if I lose my job, but they don’t let it spoil their day.

I chat to my daughter as she is the slightly less hostile of the two, but she seems even less interested than usual.

I try to reel her in by mentioning supper, but still nothing. Then I realise she has earphones in. “Ethan, this Milky Chance is really cool.”

His reply is disdainful: “OMG, Ilana. You’re like a month behind with the music scene.”

She’s not rattled and her retort is strong: “OMG Ethan, that’s like the worst insult you can ever give me.”

We approach the halfway point and Ethan announces that he has forgotten his homework. I’m so pleased he’s actually done it that I go back to get it.

Anyway, I can always get another job. When we arrive at school, they’re still on time, but I have no chance of making it to my desk by 8.30am.

The progress record book suddenly needs signing too. I sigh and tell them I love them the whole wide world and back again, (I do, I can’t help it) and lean in for kisses.

Ilana complies and Ethan offers me the side of his head. I take what I can get.

They disembark from the car, not in any particular rush and I’m always amazed that however nasty things have got in the car, they always walk off together, one earphone each – united in Milky Chance and bitching about me.

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