Monday, 10 March 2014

One Does One's Best

When I was 14, I was a bit of a rebel. I know you'll find that hard to believe and it isn't something I would normally admit to, but really, I was. My mum caught me hanging out of the bathroom window once, smoking one of my dad's Benson & Hedges, and she was on first name terms with the number 66 bus driver due to the amount of visits she had to make into school. Sitting outside the Headmaster's office was becoming a regular occurrence and one day she even brought a packed lunch. Of course, I can look back on this period of my life now, thirty years on, and laugh about it because I did walk away with seven CSEs and go onto do a very worthwhile administrative course at a local business college. But, as a mother myself now, I do realise it could have gone completely the opposite way. I was one of life's jokers; I messed about too much at the back of class and spent too long turning my skirt up at the waist in order to make it shorter. I'd walk to the chippy in town with a group of girls at lunch time, rather than sit in the canteen and eat what was on offer. I won't deny that I hated school but there were times when I enjoyed it and I sometimes look back on those times with a roll of the eyes and a vow that I will never let my daughter get away with messing about in class and kissing a boy behind the bike sheds.

Amy is so very different to how I was back then. Of course times were much different and there wasn't all these health and safety rules and the red tape that now exists. I remember a girl in my class going out with a chap who came to do some work on the roof - he must have been at least 18. She was 15. No one bat an eyelid, yet it was common knowledge around the school which meant teachers would have been aware also. I also remember an ice cream man who parked his van in the school playground and made a fortune out of vulnerable teens - his language was atrocious and his sexual innuendo was something out of a Jimmy Saville biography. He was a dirty old man; a pervert. Yet again, no one bat an eyelid. How did he get through the gates? We used to laugh it off of course, and walk away knowing we were being oggled, but that dirty old ice cream man has stayed in my memory for thirty years.

I know how vulnerable my 14 year old is and it's a lot more vulnerable than I was at that age. She hates the fact that I was "streetwise" because she knows she never will be. I like the fact she is protected at school and supervised, and they don't allow strange men into the playground to sell ice creams. She's doing well at school; is working towards GCSEs next year and a few other qualifications, too. I'm sure she does mess about in class and I'm sure she gets on the wrong side of the odd teacher - heck, I get the phone calls. But my mum was an amazing mum; she supported me every step of the way and never failed to be there when I needed her. Is it the people we mix with that are the influence in our lives, is it the way we are educated? Or is it how we're brought up? Who knows. But what I do know is I'm doing my best as a mother and even though I'm often made to feel like a complete failure by other people as well as my hormonal, stroppy teenager, I can't do more than that.


  1. I read this nodding as I thought about my punk rock days and how my kids now have a babysitter (when I can afford one) at ages where I was babysitting. it's a different world now for sure! But I didn't think to comment until I read the previous post! It made me glad you had gained some equanimity after a tough time. With a preteen myself (on the spectrum, difficult divorce situation, etc.) I know you will need that equanimity, just as I will. Thinking of you, doing OUR best,

    1. Thank you for your kind words and for reading my blog today. I think we do learn from our own mistakes, but it takes a lot of courage to allow our kids to learn by theirs. x

    2. Whoa! Way too much courage and more than I have. We must keep them in our safe arms and homes forever!!!!!! Oops, did I write that out loud? ;) But, more seriously, my son is profoundly lacking in common sense. he makes up for it in all sorts of other wonderful qualities, but it's scary out there for me watching him and yes, doing my best to let him learn from small, safe mistakes...ARGH. Thanks and love,

  2. [sorry, forgot to check the leetle "notify me" box]

  3. You're doing a great job. And I think it's a mix of the things you mention that determine how we turn out. I was a rebel too but I turned out alright (in my opinion! lol!), I could have got slightly better grades had I not been so obsessed with wanting to be 'cool' but I did well. We had an ice cream van that sold sweets right outside our school gates at lunch and that was only 10 or so years ago (wow, it doesn't feel that long ago!)
    I think you're doing your best and I'm sure that your daughter will turn out to be a strong, wonderful young woman thanks to your guidance.

  4. I think its a bit of both really but don't underestimate peer pressure.
    Wish I'd knuckled down to work when I was at school. The fact I done that I didn't, was entirely my own fault.
    You are a very good mum so don't you go worrying.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  5. I shudder when I think of the things I got up to in my teens! My guess is that most teenagers, in every generation, did exactly the same. I can understand your worries about Amy but with you as a Mum she won't go far wrong. x


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