Saturday, 08 May 2021

The TYOT turns it up to 11

STOP eating all my Nutella with that giant spoon!” screams the Ten-Year-Old Teenager by way of a breezy Sunday morning greeting.

“And are those weight loss before and after videos you’re watching? Oh, Mum, you’re pathetic!”

“They are amazing, though,” I look up from the laptop and manage to reply, despite my mouth being stuck together by a tennis-ball-sized scoop of Nutella. “I mean, I don’t think I could lose 40lb in 20 weeks!”

“Neither do I,” she strops over to me and yanks the jar of chocolate spread out of my hand. “No one does.”

“I do,” chimes in the Sunshiney Seven-Year-Old as he bounces into the kitchen, beaming so widely I’m unsure which are gappy spaces left by missing teeth and which are just globs of Nutella.

“Wait. What do I do, again?”

“You come here, Handsome,” I stretch my arms out for a morning cuddle and close my eyes, anticipating a bit of affection from my youngest.

But instead of a soft, warm, squirmy little body, I feel a big piece of paper being slapped on to my hands.

“My birthday list,” the TYOT smiles. Possibly for the first time this year.

“But it’s one whole sheet of A4!” I squeal. “In small writing! Beautiful, small writing, Darling, exquisite, even. But both sides?”

“I know, right?”

“No,” I sit up straight, close the laptop and study the list, lying it flat on the kitchen table. “I don’t know. Right. In my day we didn’t give out birthday lists.”

“Only because papyrus took so long to make in your day,” she sneers.

“Whatever happened to ‘you get what you get and you don’t get upset’?”

“That was when I was FOUR. At nursery school!”

We harrumph in unison and I read the list out loud.

“Rose gold Adidas trainers, cool pink hoodie from Debenhams designed by Sienna Miller’s sister, rose gold school bag, that pile of books from Waterstone’s you refused to get me last time we were there, tattoo choker, blah blah, blah de blah, oh bla di oh bla-dah, list goes on, blah! La la how this list goes on! Blah blah wristwatch blah. This is all going to cost a fortune! What about Daddy?”

“I’ve already given him his list, don’t worry.”

“Is there a rose gold Rolex on his list, too?”

“Oh, that’s still there? I thought I’d crossed it out on yours and put it on his.’

“Ah, hedging your bets…”


And with that, she stomps off upstairs.

“Have you cleaned up your room yet?” I call up after her.

“I’ve been BUSY!” She yells down to me.

And then, out of the blue, I let loose with a limerick:

There once was a Ten-Year-Old Teen
Who thought her mummy was mean
For not buying her stuff
And not getting enough
For her birthday despite room unclean

“Brilliant,” she saunters down the stairs and back into the kitchen, crossing her arms and flashing her rictus Rizzo smile.

“Did you just make that up? You should be in stadiums, Mummy,” grins the Sunshiney one.

“Where did you come from?” I ask him. “And how did you get to be so lovely?”

“Because I came from you,” he says, with not a trace of narkasm (a heady mixture of narkiness and sarcasm, usually heard coming out of the mouths of teenagers) in his voice.

“Nyeurgh,” the TYOT grunts. “You can manage some presents, surely.”

“Don’t call me Shirley,” I smile.

“And don’t call me the Ten-Year-Old Teenager!”

“As soon as you turn 11... ”


“Okay, okay!” I pull both kids to me for a much-needed (by me) group hug.

“And Mummy?” The TYOT sing-songs as she slightly pulls away from me, “I’m having a party, too.”

But that’s another story…

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