Saturday, 08 May 2021

When did my daughter become a little black cloud in big workman's boots?

MY daughter, the Eleventeen-Year-Old, and I went out boots shopping for her at the weekend. I was thinking a low-if-any-heeled, calf-length boot, just below the knee. She, on the other hand, made a beeline for a pair of black Timberland clod-hoppers that wouldn’t look out of place on a building site.

She’s obsessed with the dystopian Divergent series of books, you see, and these boots “are so Dauntless!”

I agreed to buy them for her, remembering that I went through a clunky DMs and paint-it-black phase, too. It lasted more than 30 years, now I think about it, and I’ve still only just managed to branch out into blue — dark, navy, of course, but blue nonetheless.

As it gets darker earlier, why do barely-into-double-figures girls seem to get darker inside earlier, too? I mean, what is it with these tweens?

The other day, I was nagging away at her to wear her coat — a natural thing for any mother to do when it’s
-4C outside and it’s not even 7am. But was she having it? Was she ’eck as like. As we were standing at the front door, the Sunshiney Seven-Year-Old still snoozing away in his room upstairs, this is how it went down:

Me: You’ll need your coat this morning, sweetheart.

EYO: No.

Me: Come on, it’s cold. I’ll help you.

EYO: I said “no”.

Me: But it’s freezing! You can’t afford to catch one of those colds or get the flu.


Me: Ah, do what you want. Honestly, I don’t know why I bother sometimes.

EYO: Samesies.

I think it’s all the drama of making the leap from primary to secondary, having a whole new set of pressures and having to get up so bloody early to get the train into Reading that’s making her a daily, one-girl performance of Les Mis.

So, in an attempt to cheer her up this morning, I put Top of the World by The Carpenters on YouTube for her.

“Sounds like Spongebob Squarepants,” she sneers.

She’s actually right — at least about the intro.

“What about this, then?” I smile smugly, switching to Feelin’ Groovy by Simon and Garfunkel, feeling sure this would get her toe-tapping and grinning.

“Meh,” she shrugs.

“Um…I know!” I beam, remembering how I used to play Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python to her when she was two years old and had only just begun to run rings around me.

She is hardly interested, barely even registering the genius of rhyming “gristle” with “whistle” and “this’ll”, but when we get to the line, “’cos life’s a piece of s*** when you look at it” she cracks a smile so wide, I fear she’ll swallow herself whole.

“That’s brilliant!” she laughs for the first time in what feels like forever and my heart melts. However inappropriate it may be, it’s worth it to see my girl look happy. Then, 15 minutes after she’s left to catch her train, I get a What’sApp message from her: “Train delayed. Now cancelled. Drive us to school?”

I’m still in my slippers and when I look at the Sunshiney Seven-Year-Old playing Minecraft on his tablet, I see he’s still in his jimjams, both hair and teeth unbrushed. But I know GWR can’t be trusted, so we’ll just have to drive her in.

I run up and down the stairs at least 20 times looking for my socks and trainers while my boy slowly slides off his tablet and schleps towards a sleeping Cookie to persecute him for a bit. Just to wind me up, I suspect.

“You! Dressed! NOW!” I lovingly coo at him. He jumps into action and in three minutes flat, we’re tumbling out of the front door on our way to rescue our girl.

We manage to escape most of the horrendous morning traffic and even get the girls to school on time. And when they get out of the car giggling and waving, my daughter showing her friend Monty Python on her phone, I sigh, relieved.

Because who’d have thought looking on the bright side — and a bit of swearing — would actually work?

But that’s another story…

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