"It is so unfair!" is the popular riposte of Kevin (the teenager) and one which will undoubtedly resonate with all parents of teenagers, unless of course you have been blessed with the perfect child.

During a full-on teenage meltdown all rational thought is abandoned, emotions soar and you find yourself suddenly being treated as the enemy, hell-bent on "ruining their life!", rather than a loving parent looking out for their best interests.

In our house there are many reasons that our Kevin may have a meltdown but the most popular by far are:

  • Loss of internet connection mid way through Call of Duty.
  • Being late to collect him from a sports game.
  • Being early to collect him from a party.
  • Not having washed his favourite shirt in time for a night out.
  • Daring to ask him any questions about his friends.
  • Moving anything in his room.
  • Asking him not to check his Facebook page at the meal table.
  • Saying no when he asks for a Domino's pizza for dinner.
  • Not agreeing to him going out.

Of these the most irritating by far are the latter two.  It is a well-known fact that cooking is not my thing, but when I have made an effort on a school night and he walks in and says "Do you know what I really fancy tonight is a pizza!"  straightaway my hackles go up and it takes all my strength not to launch a missile in his direction.

It would be fine if a simple "no" would kill the conversation dead, but it doesn't.  It continues into a high pitched whine of "Oh but why not?"  Seriously there is no going back from there,  I ignore all the best advice and instead my flash to bang switch is ignited and away we go with a well rehearsed argument about the merits of eating well and not wasting money on junk food against his craving for rubbish carbs.

The main difference between a toddler and teenage tantrum is that toddlers' tantrums are formative, they learn from them and rarely repeat the same one.  Teenagers are like hamsters on a wheel, repeatedly going over the same ground and never moving on.

The other meltdown that irks me at the moment is the relative newcomer to the pack, which is triggered by his increasingly active social life. In my opinion, I don't think that we are inconsiderate parents.  Of course I would say that, but we do recognise that he is nigh on an adult and close to leaving our nest, BUT whilst he is living under our roof there are still  rules that we expect him to abide by.  Not least because "selfishly" (in his mind at least), there are moments when we want the peace of mind of not worrying about whether he has missed the last tube home or has been stabbed in a dark alley.

This battle of the wills has become more apparent over the summer because suddenly he has no obligations so why shouldn't he go out when he pleases?  There is no school the next day, no homework to be delivered, he has done his exams and now he is entitled to some time off.  Oh and he is the grand old age of "17 and three quarters!"

To an extent I agree.  He worked extremely hard for his exams.  He has had a summer job at a sports holiday camp for one month, helping to coach kids.  He worked 10 hour days  and the staff and kids loved him.   So why shouldn't he kick back and relax and be allowed more freedom without having to seek our constant approval?

For me it is all about balance.  I am happy for him to go out during the day and at night, as long as it is not every night and all night.  London is expensive and it doesn't take long to burn through his hard-earned cash.  If he is working, he has an obligation to turn up fresh and capable to do his job well, not tired and jaded.  Also Mr MoT is still going to work and doesn't need to be kept awake by my anxiety about his whereabouts.  That should be enough to persuade him of the merits of our rationale but his frequent "Kevin" come back is "No other parents do this".

Quite frankly I don't give a damn about what other families do and being compared to other parents is not the way to influence me.  The experts  say that for teenagers at this stage it is all about how they are perceived by their friends and the one thing they don't want is to seem "uncool" which is why they may push at the boundaries more than usual.

Before we left for our holidays our Kevin played cricket for his local club which was duly followed by some celebratory drinks to toast their win.  We were fine with that, the problem came at midnight when he came home with a group of mates and said they were all off out to another party.  The next morning he was due at work at 8am, thus there began a stand off with us saying no and him saying "It isn't fair! You can't stop me!  I am going anyway!"  His mates loitered in the background, but unperturbed by their presence we stuck to our guns.  The mates slunk off into the night and there began a long "chat" about responsibilities, boundaries etc and accepting that not everything is possible all of the time.

Kevin's street cred may have dropped a few notches that night and we may have a reputation as the most unreasonable parents on the planet, but whilst of course he would never admit it he was actually thankful the next morning!

Being a babe of the late 90's he had never heard of Kevin, so one day over lunch on holiday we decided to share some old clips with him.  Whilst we laughed and made comparisons, our Kevin sat stony faced, muttering under his breath about how stupid it was, insisting he was nothing like that.  But without a doubt the one thing that stops him dead in his tracks mid meltdown is if any of us say "He's a right Kevin!"

Do you have any Kevin moments to share?  How do you handle a meltdown?  Please let me know.

 

My Random Musings

 

 

 

 

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The Festival season is upon us and for teenagers it is a time to break free of their parents' shackles and take great gulps of independence.  Attending a festival is an undisputed rite of passage for teenagers.

Reading and Leeds are notorious for attracting the newbie teenager festival goer celebrating the end of their GCSEs.  Last year my eldest was among them and in preparation I spent days, (maybe weeks) talking to not only parents of teenagers that had already been, but also young twenty somethings full of festival "know-how", sucking information from them like a greedy parasite.  In my opinion you can never be knowingly under prepared as a parent or a teenager!

This year Teenager No. 1 is off to a 5 day event in Cornwall but after last year I know what to expect, as does he.  Friends are now contacting us for advice so for those in a similar situation take heed of my definitive guide for surviving festivals for teenagers and their parents.

  • Ticket PDF: we learnt the hard way!  Make sure they download a PDF of their ticket onto their phone in case they forget the paper version!
  • Tent: Don't send them with your best "family" tent, as it will smell like an underground toilet as people stumble past and pee at will in the middle of the night.  Buy a cheap pop up festival tent from Argos which they can just leave behind. It is also a good idea to buy one slightly bigger than they need so there is room for them to store their kit and still have room to collapse after a day's partying.
  • Flag: It acts like a lighthouse guiding them back to their tent through the sea of identical pop up tents.
  • Phone+Portable Charger: They will get separated from their friends and will regret it if they don't take their phones. Reading has lockers with charging sockets which are worth hiring otherwise get a portable charger such as iMuto which they can use to charge their phone several times over.
  • Bum-Bag: To store their valuables when they are partying.
  • Wellies: They are ubiquitous with festivals but there are 2 important things to bear in mind, firstly don't send them with cheap ones or they will return with blisters aplenty after days of sweaty dancing and secondly they will want a change of footwear at some point - wellies 24/7 is really only for the foolhardy or for those that just don't dance!
  • Mac-In-A-Sac: Even if the forecast is non-stop sunshine, remember this is England after-all.
  • Headtorch: For those moments when they may need to find the loo in the middle of the night and want their hands free.
  • Bin-bags: To store dirty clothes, rubbish and stick over any holes that may appear in their tent.
  • Giant Wet Wipes: These are a shower in a bag essentially and as the novelty of being dirty wears off after 36 hours, they will thank you for forcing that extra packet in their rucksack as they head out of the door.
  • Deodorant/Toothpaste: No explanation needed, but make sure it is a roll-on deodorant, our teenager had his spray can confiscated in a bag search at his last festival.
  • Plastic Bottles:  Some festivals are more rigorous than others, but glass bottles are a no-go so decant liquids into plastic bottles to ensure you keep hold of it.
  • Food: Festival food is expensive and even teenagers have a limit on how many buns they can eat containing a variety of meat.  Fruit in a tin is perfect for those mornings when they wake up wanting something resembling fresh and juicy, plus it will help to get their blood sugar up.  Beyond The Beaten Track is also a good range of hot meal kits recommended by DoE, but they will need a stove.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Festivals are germ farms and anti-bacterial gel is a necessity before they tuck into their festival grub, to avoid spending days huddled in a tent with food poisoning.
  • Loo Roll: They can never have too much!
  • Medical Kit: Neurofen (because they will get a headache!) and blister plasters!
  • Berocca: A high dose of vitamins and energy in a tablet for the days when they are wilting and need a pick-me-up.
  • Sunscreen: All teenagers dismiss it, but sunstroke is not a good look when you are trying to be festival cool.
  • Water: For re-hydrating and cleaning.

A final word of warning goes to the parents....Teenagers like to think they are invincible but humans were not designed to withstand 3-5 days of continuous drinking, eating rubbish food, jumping and sleep deprivation, they will return smelly, grumpy and exhausted and totally disinclined to answer any questions.  Expect grunting of a disproportionate nature from anything you may have experienced before and for them to sleep for close to 24 hours - yes seeing is believing!

Please share any festival tips you may have so I can build my list further for next year!

 

My Random Musings

A Mum Track Mind

My Random Musings

The Diary of an 'Ordinary' Mum

A Cornish Mum

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