James-dean
It is really not all that long ago (or so it seems) that that title would have meant something quite different.  Though I was never particularly attracted to younger men, it's true that when finding myself single at age 34 I jumped into a delicious fling with an 18 yr old.

Roger and I had nothing at all in common but after ten years with a wild and unpredictable bloke, Rog came into my life like a gentle breeze, wanting nothing more than to make me happy.  He would find me a seat in the most crowded pub, gaze adoringly into my eyes and hang on my every word.  Of course he did.  He loved me as only an 18 yr old bloke can love an old bird of 34.  Truly.  Madly.  Deeply.

Our relationship lasted a full ten days before I woke up, came to my senses and told him it was time for him to go.  I suspect he was inconsolable for a very long time – possibly as much as 48 hours – before finding himself a 16 yr old to love.

But today the teenager I'm learning to love is quite a different matter. 

My Boy.  He is only lacking a black leather biker's jacket and shades to make him a rebel without a cause.  Indeed, James Dean's snarl was a pussy cat kiss compared to My Boy's and at almost 14, the fags, and motorbike are probably just around the corner – with the loose women.

I really thought those stories about teenagers were urban myth, just something bad parents fabricated because they were miffed they didn't have a little darling like mine.  

Kevin-wryvita-image
I thought that Harry Enfield / Kevin the Teenager sketch was an exaggeration.  Now I know the truth is the BBC made Harry tone it down in order not to cause a population implosion and send pre-teen parents running for the underground bomb shelters.

And then just the other day I had a lightbulb moment.  I should say someone else switched the light on for me.  I was too befuddled and confused by this point to realise there was a light switch there.

I was having a whinge with another coach about My Boy and the difficulty of loving a teenager.  Where had we gone wrong?  Was it all to do with that Play Station he worshipped at the altar of?  Was it too many E numbers or not enough Omega 3?  Should we have sent him to some bleak Scottish boarding school with daily cold showers and minimal parental contact? 

And then she explained that I was lucky really and that what was happening was completely normal.  That My Boy didn't hate me at all but more correctly, the Teenager in him was at loggerheads with the Parent in me.  And some of the reason I was lucky was that she was going through something similar but with her 20-something and she just wished her child had done the teenage terror thing several years earlier.

And simple as that sounds now, this knowledge instantly changed how I was feeling.  I needed to hear that it wasn't personal.  I needed to know that it wouldn't last forever.  It's kind of like the butterfly thing and right now it just happens My Boy is at the sluggy grubby caterpillar stage.

No.  Don't even wonder what stage I might be at…

So once I really understood that my cocky sarcastic teenager wasn't necessarily a manifestation of all my ropey parenting skills, declaring to the world that I'd messed up big time with this mother mullarkey, he got that bit easier to handle.  I could smile in the face of the snarling and love him for flexing his claws on a bit of dead meat, which is what your mother equates to really, isn't it, when  you're 13?

And so our sparring has got gentler since I developed the confidence to be more accepting and less judgemental.  I still might not understand him but I have a better understanding of the process. 

Now it is easier to trade blows without either wanting to really knock out the other.  I call him a baby, he calls me an OAP, then we sit down and laugh together at old episodes of Only Fools.

Don't tell him I told you but this week he's even hugged me a couple of times.  And I think that really these are just growing pains – and I'm growing better every day.

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