I read an article the other day that revealed the full horror of having to pacify teenagers in a modern world. I have to say, that although now out of practice, I still reckon I’d know how to annoy any teenage children of mine if I still had them.
Frankly, it’s a simple as A-B-C - Yes, that’s it, nothing complex or Freudian, all you have to do is be you! Yes, indeed, just be an embarrassing and awkward parent for a few short years and nothing will surprise you.
First of all, do not - repeat do not make the mistake of trying to curry favour with your dreadful snots by trying to pretend that you actually enjoy things like their ghastly music or hilarious clothing, not to mention their penchant for anything fashionably shallow or just another passing fancy.
Indeed, as any teenager will tell you, there is nothing more buttock clenchingly sad, than middle-aged men and women cracking-on that they love modern ‘bangin’ music (no G!). They know you don’t - ‘cos it’s quite rightly, against the law. Come on, for God’s sake where’s your dignity? No, appeasement is not the answer in trying to survive that grim time between approximately 11 to 16 years of age (ages can vary due to gender and other unmentionable elements). My own defence in the face of outrageous teenage indifference was to shout at my two very loudly and threaten to send them to an orphanage in Romania.
Indeed, at the very age that the ecological campaigner Greta Thunberg is at the moment i.e. 16 - going on 46! - they also took upon themselves to point out that I was, amongst other negatives, a fascist, a racist, and a capitalist. Nevertheless, could I possibly ‘sub’ them 30 quid for those cool jeans they desperately need from the money I probably made by selling children into slavery? I assure you I’m not joking!
Yes, I know the teenage “Whatever” phase doesn’t last forever, but unless you are tough and vigilant they can, and will, make your life misery, because this is what teenagers do isn’t it? Naturally enough, some lily livered apologists think they can do no wrong - and crucially, are by their very nature deeply unselfish and sensitive and are just exploring the adult world and testing social boundaries.
Talking about young Greta Thunberg, I have to say that I find her most disconcerting - but, that’s how it should be surely? This is because she speaks a lot of good sense that would be properly accepted if she were a tedious chap with a receding hairline and paunch. However, because she is young and guileless and has yet to learn how to be nauseatingly smiley and coquettish, she is seen by many who really should know better, as some sort of Nordic anti-Christ. Mind you, the rather silly deification she attracts from the Eco lobby is by the same measure more than a little unwise I would suggest. She is after all, a very young woman with the fire of unscarred certainty burning in her every utterance. Remember teenagers, don’t ever do things by half - that’s why we should be both excited and unnerved by them.
Nevertheless, I think you will agree that the young and permanently furious Greta, is not your usual self-obsessed youngster. A young person who in the past would take the p*** out of their father's alphabetically arranged - 30 years in the gathering - CD and vinyl collection for no apparent reason. I have to say that my two kids teenage years, did have some compensations. I liked it best when they would bring friends around for a coffee and go to their rooms to snog or smoke Benson & Hedges and blow the smoke out of a bedroom window as if we couldn’t smell it throughout the whole house.
Anyway, I reckon the way to really exasperate your sprogs is to be really matey with their friends and clumsily attempt to make them think that you are really quite cool. I found chatting to them was immensely galling for our kids, particularly as they had told them that we were suffering from the onset of Alzheimer's.
As my teenage parenting days are now well and truly over; I can afford a wry smile over daily battles of what was to be eaten at mealtimes, the proper way to sit straight in a chair without looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame and explaining for the umpteenth time the etiquette of arriving and leaving the dinner table. Moreover, to add insult to injury, everything we did or said was “Sad” - I wonder if Greta’s parents have the same problem?
Furthermore, how can I ever forget the family wedding we all attended and I enthusiastically threw a few shapes to a Tamla Motown classic - only to be told by my 14 year old daughter from beneath a heavy fringe - “Did you really have to dance dad? I feel physically sick.” As parents of teenagers, we always feared the ‘parents evening’ where we just knew that various teachers would tell you how hopeless and awful our two were. But they weren’t were they? No, the teachers said they were nice bright, helpful kids. We rushed home ecstatic - and with one of us holding them down on the breakfast bar, we smothered them in proud kisses. Naturally, they both left for their bedrooms in a huff, exclaiming - “God you two are so sad - you really are.” And then they stomped off to bed, possibly smiling to themselves just a little. Just like Greta T at the same age - well I hope so anyway.