A teenager is coming
No that’s not a double entendre.
I’ve been hibernating for a few months now. Seasonal depression and a winter funk has weathered itself in.
But Spring is on its way. Blue skies and sun are re-appearing.
Winter is a drag. You chew up weeks and spit out weekends hoping summer comes sooner than normal.
I binge watch shows on Netflix and fall asleep to podcasts.
I flick between the same 2 apps on my phone. Refreshing and scrolling. Refreshing and scrolling.
My 2 boys nearly 13 and 11.5 have pretty much ditched us. It’s probably 50/50 to be honest. We have ditched them too at weekends for the sanity of a few hours peace and quiet.
They work hard at school. So at weekends they glue themselves to Fortnite and you tube videos. They catch up with mates and spend hours scrolling through whatsapp.
I engage with them when I have to. I feed them from the end of a long stick. I drop them at random homes as often and for as long as possible.
Winter is their favourite time. The morning dew is their perfect canvas. I’ll often reverse out my driveway and see an outline of a dick and balls looking back at me. A parting gift to me as they walk to school.
The older they become the better their relationship is. They bond over pranks and my misfortune. They’ve realised by working together they can get more. It’s a game to them.
“hey dad remember that $10 you owe me?” Zaks asks
“eh. What? No chance. You’re at it. Leave me alone.” is my usual response
“No seriously Dad, Max will tell you “
“Yea Dad, remember you didn’t have any money on you and you asked to borrow it?” Max chirps in
“You did. Last Saturday”
“ok. Fine.” I give in. “Here’s your $10 but next time I’m writing it down”
I catch them hi-fiving each other as they walk away.
Max will be a teenager in a few months. And has the gangly stature to prove it. 5 foot 2 of loose jointed awkwardness.
Zak’s not far behind him.
I find few things more nerve wracking than watching this slender man carrying a heavy based pot from stove to sink. It has me in a spasm. I picture the pot chipping the edge of the benchtop as the two clash together.
But I let it go. It’s all part of being independent.
I hyperventilate into a paper bag watching the tomato sauce scraped onto the side of the bin enclosure rather than into the plastic rubbish bag itself.
But this is their journey. A sloppy bag of uncoordinated-ness.
I’m sculling from the wine bottle as the liquid from their glass misses the sink.
“The floor is wood.” I say through gritted teeth. Wine dribbling down my chin. “You’ve got to move quicker to so the water doesn’t soak in”
I watch in anxst as they overcook their toastie and it swims in its own cheese. The smoke alarm beep adding to my anxiety.
This is the beginning. The calm before the storm. Except it’s not calm. It’s awkward, emotional, impulsive and hormonal and it’s reminding me of all the things I used to be moving towards my teenage years.
It’s going to be a roller coaster. Another stage. Another chapter. And with any luck we will come out the other side better for it.
They are young men now. Old enough to walk the streets, own a bank card, have a phone, take a tram and make their own arrangements.
But they still can’t peel off a layer of clingfilm in one piece
They are old enough to complain that we are terrible parents
But still like to be tucked into bed.
They can’t accept no for an answer and could negotiate a Middle East peace treaty
But they still need help when they can’t find their mouthguard
In reality we only have 6 maybe 7 more summers with them before they are off with friends on their own adventures.
I’m looking forward to this summer. My first with a teenager.
With any luck he will want to spend it with me too.