For years as a parent, you’ve been the Big ‘I Am’. The Head Honcho. The cool Fonz to your child’s devoted Richie Cunningham.
Your little girl (or boy) wouldn’t leave your side, looking to you adoringly to help her pick out which Peppa Pig T-shirt to wear. She was so keen to please you and be part of the gang. Your gang.
Then overnight, with no warning whatsoever (apart from the mild whiff of BO) a revolt occurred, and you realised you’d been ousted.
There was no sign of the sweet little girl (or boy) who used to follow you around.
Instead, in his or her place, there’s now a new Fonzie in town, except one that’s far meaner and wouldn’t be seen dead in a 1970’s leather jacket. This leader is more a mean and moody Taylor Swift, and it’s crystal clear she doesn’t want anything to do with you.
But you’re trying desperately to impress her.
You mention JoJo Siwa’s latest YouTube video in the hope of getting her attention. But oh crap, you get ‘the look’. ‘The look that makes you want to curl up in a ball and comfort eat Werther’s Originals in your 1983 Frankie Says T-shirt. Clearly poor old JoJo Siwa is not deemed on trend anymore.
In panic mode, you rack your brains.
‘I’m kind of digging Zoella at the moment’ you say, trying to copy that voice that goes up at the end in an annoying question kind of way, when you’ve no intention of asking a question.
Noooo, even worse. You get the eye roll. The biggest putdown of all. You are destined never ever to be in with this particular cool, mean girl gang. You want to cry and lock yourself in the loo.
In your own home. Because suddenly, without any warning, this is what you’re facing. YOU = sad, geeky, uncool, too keen, desperate, very, very old person trying to bond with HER = hip, too cool for skool, aloof, secretive, very young person who thinks you’re excruciatingly naff and generally irrelevant.
But don’t take it personally. You may sob nostalgically for the little person who clung to you, hung off your every word, worshipped the very ground you walked on and actually did as they were told – most of the time – and now you’re dealing with this. But this can be endured by developing a thick skin (I’m thinking five layer rhino) and following the dos and don’ts of life with a tween / teen.
Don’t dance, sing, pretend you know the words to any song playing on Capital Radio, or do anything that could be remotely linked to having fun or being young (remember you are roughly the same age as the Queen in your kids’ eyes).
Don’t try to relate to anything that is going on in their school life. Schools probably didn’t even exist when you were their age. In fact, where is your slate?
Do not under any circumstances try to talk to their friends. Even if you are just trying to be friendly. Remember that people from the Middle Ages are not able to converse with extremely hip kids from 2019.
Don’t ever try to talk to your kids about dating or, God forbid, sex. This might imply that you have actually ever had sexual relations and will undoubtedly cause your child to be sick in his/her mouth. People from the Middle Ages found their babies under a gooseberry bush.
Don’t ever wear the same thing as your child or even comment that you like what he/she is wearing. This is the kiss of death and they will never wear said item again (sometimes not a bad thing). No matter how much you pride yourself on keeping on trend with your threads, in their eyes, you will always be seen as one of those people with funny clothes ‘from the olden times.’
Do accept that, even though you may already work, in any precious spare time that you have, you will be moonlighting as an Uber driver expected to drive to any given destination at the drop of a hat. And don’t be one of those overly chatty ones. Your passenger will grunt at you and give you a very bad rating.
Do realise that no matter how much education and life experience you have, you will never know as much as a thirteen year old. They really have it nailed after all.
Do expect your tween/teen to live their entire life through their phone. You can try to control it as much as possible (and you should) but they will always find a way of getting that little rectangular piece of crack back into their mucky paws.
Do expect extremely volatile behaviour. One minute you may think you have your adoring, friendly 10 year old back, only to be faced with a raging, hormonal, crazy person the next, who despises the very air you breathe. Try to ride the storm, or hide in the loo with a bottle of Cinzano until the storm has settled.
Do savour those precious moments when they still want to hold your hand, when they want to talk things through, when they need you to tell them everything will be alright, because occasionally they’ll want to be that 10 year old again, away from their highly pressured world of exams and social media. And it’s important for them to know that despite the tsunami of shit they throw at us most days, we’ll be there for them no matter what, because they’re our kids, and nothing in the world matters more.
S.H.I.T. T-shirts are still very much available with 100% profit from every single tee sold going to YoungMinds who are #FightingFor a new era where there is mental health support for every young person who reaches out. We’ve raised over £5000 now, but how amazing it would be to get to £6000, because #itsoktofeelshit but it’s a lot more ok if you don’t feel alone. xx