Christmas has come and gone. New Year is now not so shiny. I am firmly in my 40s. Ellis rides his Gilera DNA wearing his parka, looking as cool as the coolest mod from Cool Town. Max has had a wobbly term at school and Luke has become my ‘problem’ child. I have decided to go back to uni and Man is thinking about cycling a quarter length of England in a day. But more about that another day.
So yeah, it’s a worry having another of my Pride open to the angry, fast, metal elements on the roads. Ellis, however, does not stay out very late, and I am under no illusion that the only reason he comes home at a reasonable hour is because he gets hungry (Ellis has the most vivacious appetite of anyone in this house, with maybe the possible exception of Dot who manages to beg x3 breakfasts, x2 lunches and numerous dinners from unwitting feeders). And I guess it’s the age-old thing about it getting easier with the younger child. It’s not that Ellis is a better rider than Luke was but rather I’ve chilled out and I know that – in all probability – he will be fine. I cannot worry about things that may not happen. I have to trust that I’ve supplied him with enough common sense and have to trust that he will come home in one piece. And that’s what being a parent is about really – panic, panic, panic and then oh, it’s fine, nothing bad happened and my child will grow to see adulthood and my job here will be done.
And with the thought of how responsible my children are in the midst of double decker buses, men driving white vans at nut tensing speed and hormonal mums on the school run it’s with absolute horror that I have just discovered that for the past couple of months the black box in Luke’s car has not been functioning. I, however, have been receiving fortnightly reports telling me what an ‘excellent’ driver my 17 year old is. He’s not, as it goes. Latest reports have been showing that his night driving is excessive, his braking is poor and his right foot is too heavy...
For most parents a new baby is the reason that uninterrupted sleep becomes a thing of the past. But just wait til that same child drives a car at night and you’re in bed, reading crap about serial killers/health benefits of root turmeric/reviews of Estee Lauder/repining recipes that you’ll never cook in order to stay awake until you hear the distinctive ppppuuuuuuppp ppppupppp, signalling the safe return of your teenager, who is blissfully unaware of your anxiety and promptly suggests that you ‘just go to sleep mum, you can’t stay awake for me forever’. Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong Luke. All the time there are hormones swirling around telling you to hunt and kill buffalo, but in the absence of buffalo your brain now interprets a hunt as having a race with the Saxo up ahead, and all the time there are moronic BMW drivers with small dicks threatening to slit your throat then no, I shall not sleep soundly.
Luke has been pushing the boundaries recently; with poor school attendance, broken curfews, idleness and not helping out with chores and is a confirmed smoker. Only this week I’ve had to attend a meeting with his Head of Sixth form, to manage Luke’s final push of school, ensuring that he finishes with good grades and a smile on his face. The lad does not have a clue what he’ll do the day after he drives away from classroom and teachers for the final time, and so we – I – continue to research what it is that 18 year olds do if they don’t want to go to uni (‘Mum, can you actually see me at uni?’)
He’s my first born, I learn how to be a mum with this one, adapting to situations and not sleeping with worry, selecting my words carefully to encourage him and nudge him to the path of well rounded human without him raising eyebrows.
I’ve never done this before, been the mum of a 17 year old boy, this is all new to me, as new as the experiences that Luke’s having now, and I tread carefully. But all I can do is hope, hope that he and his brothers make decisions that keep them safe and make them happy. Hope and cook dinners and leave them plated in the fridge for when they come in late, obviously. And sometimes iron their shirts cos it’s takes me half the time. Oh, and slip them a tenner for petrol and turn a blind eye when one of them entertains the girlfriend on Sunday afternoons behind closed doors. And I won’t sleep, my body just can’t sleep, I’m sorry. Love is a reflex, it’s what mums do.