One of my colleagues is currently in the final throes of organising her daughter’s 18th birthday party:
“This will be you one day!”, she laughed.…
*GULP*. I’m finding the whole concept rather hard to get my head around!
Miss O is only 19 months old, and the thought of her growing up and going out into the big wide world absolutely terrifies me, mainly because of all the incredibly stupid things that I did when I was a teenager. Nothing truly terrible, but things like wandering off on my own after a night out with absolutely no regard for my personal safety, or persisting in dragging out very unhealthy relationships that reeked of toxicity to everyone but me.
At the moment I do worry about her of course, but at least I always know where she is, and that she’s okay (although I do still occasionally run up to her room and sit an inch from her face to check that she’s breathing properly. My husband hates it when I do this but we’ve compromised on a ‘you wake it, you fix it’ responsibility policy).
To be honest though, I’m not sure what words of wisdom I could pass on to her anyway. What did I actually learn when I was running the teenage gauntlet? Hmmmmm…
If there’s ever a time when you happen to have one too many drinks (!), there’s a stage (just before the one where the room starts spinning and your legs give out from underneath you), when you think you can do absolutely anything…
You can’t – you really, really can’t. You can’t walk home in the snow IN HEELS without falling on your face and chipping a tooth. You haven’t had a game-changing epiphany about Macbeth that means you should totally scrap the essay you’ve already written and start a new one RIGHT NOW. And you certainly can’t vault that hedge at the end of the pub garden; you’re not a horse, it’s f*cking massive and necking two bottles of wine doesn’t make you any less crap at jumping…
There is nothing I can say that will prevent you from making very dubious fashion choices
But equally, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop me whipping the photographic evidence out at any given moment ten years later. If my time as the secret fifth member of B*Witched is immortalised on camera for ever more, you’re certainly not getting away with it!
None of these guys are ‘the one’
1 . The one who tells you his last girlfriend ‘didn’t understand him’. She did, and very shortly you’ll be coming to exactly the same conclusions.
2. The one who thinks Jane Austen directed Pride and Prejudice.
3. The one who asks for WRITTEN FEEDBACK on his dating performance when you decline to go on a second one. This genuinely happened. I had to admire his dedication to self-improvement, but I can’t imagine that many people are up for doing dating-related paperwork.
Please, please, please don’t waste too much time agonising over your looks
I hated my red hair, now I’m terrified of finding that first grey one. Teenage-me would scroll through the photos we’d taken the night before and yearn to be thinner, more toned, more sophisticated-looking. Now, I look back at those same photos and cannot believe how thin, toned and youthful I actually was! Yes easing off the Domino’s might help me a bit now, but today on Twitter I’ve been followed by a facial-toning guru, a dietician and a guy who blogs about aging gracefully, so clearly my time is done!
I don’t expect you to follow in my footsteps, or live my dreams
You can do whatever you want to in life, and be whoever you want to be (aside from a Disney princess, Peppa Pig or a UKIP voter; you can’t be any of those). And your Daddy and I will always support you 100% (again, just to clarify, I’m talking emotionally here. Daddy dearest still hasn’t got his act together with the whole pension thing and your savings account currently has more money in it than ours does, so at some point in the future you’re going to need to chuck a few quid our way for the retirement home…)
Despite your mother’s incessant worrying, go out and do EVERYTHING
Whilst of course avoiding the 3 I’s – anything illegal, idiotic or irreversible. You will never be this responsibility-free again, so go have adventures, go travelling, go clubbing – because it’s quite possible that the next time you’re stuck in a baking hot warehouse with sticky floors, eardrum-bursting music and questionable hygiene arrangements, you’ll be in soft play hell squeezing yourself through a set of slightly whiffy foam rollers, rather than downing cocktails on the dance floor…
Deep down I know that, even if I was actually able to come up with some useful advice, we all have to make our own choices and mistakes. I was convinced I knew what was best when I was a teenager, so I very much doubt Miss O will be any different. I can’t even convince her to drink out of a beaker yet. So I guess we’ll have to go with plan A – focus on the here and now, and do our best to mould her into a responsible, sensible human being, trusting that it will all turn out right in the end.
(And in the meantime I’ll look into plan B; hiring a round-the-clock bodyguard to shadow her until she’s 80).
I’m the mother of a gorgeous 17 month old daughter and live with my husband in Northamptonshire. Parenting for me can be something of a beautiful nightmare; I wouldn’t change being a mum for the world, but do spend rather a lot of time swearing quietly into the fridge and counting down to wine o’clock. If it’s soft-play horror stories and random CBeebies musings you’re after, then please visit my blog. You can also follow me on Twitter