A couple of weeks ago I had a text message from my teenager, sent during school hours. The gist of it was that she needed me to book an emergency orthodontist appointment, because the wire in her braces had come loose and was digging (slightly painfully) into her cheek.
At least this was the conclusion I arrived at after several minutes of questioning. If I’d taken her actual message literally, I’d have been led to believe that she was experiencing a pain hitherto unknown to mankind, and that her face was starting to resemble the creature from Hellraiser, so could I please get her to the orthodontist before the final breath departs from her body.
A few hours later, all was sorted and the drama was over. Which was a relief because that night I was driving over to the town I grew up in, to meet up with old friends and celebrate thirty years since we all met when we joined the sixth form of the same school. Most of us were planning on staying the night with our parents who mainly still lived locally. It would be like old times, especially as I was going to be dropped off at the restaurant by my Dad. Of course in those days, it would have been the pub, and strictly speaking it would only really be like old times if I’d sneaked open their drinks cabinet before leaving, and swigged some of whatever was at the back and wouldn’t be noticed. Still, it was close enough and I was looking forward to it.
What I didn’t realise, was that there had been an accident on the M25, and part of it was closed. To be fair, my sat nav did try to warn me to go another way. It might seem odd that I had the sat nav on, when I was driving to the home I grew up in. My Dad has always maintained that I couldn’t find my way home if placed at the end of my street, and whilst I will stop short of admitting he is right (why break the habit of a lifetime?), I always have it on just in case.
Yet the one time it would have been genuinely helpful, was the time I picked to swear at it, and tell it that I knew where I was going, I’m not an idiot thank you very much, and continue blindly on into the chaos, adding an extra 90 minutes onto my journey time.
When I was finally almost there, I thought I’d get ahead of the game for tomorrow’s journey home, and fill up with petrol. This was the point that I noticed that the bank card I’d taken out of my purse to pay for parking by the orthodontist, was no longer in my pocket, and I must have dropped it in the car park several hours ago. So not only did I have to cancel my card, I had to borrow money from my parents so I could go out that night. Which made it truly like old times, except that this time they at least had a fighting chance of getting the money back at some point.
When I cancelled the card, I discovered that it had been used multiple times already by whoever found it. Did anybody say ‘Just Eat’? Yes, apparently the people who now owned my card had said it several times, and based on their other purchases, seemed to be enjoying a much better Friday night than I was.
That dealt with, I was ready to hurriedly greet my parents, quickly tell their excited puppy (who happens to be the litter brother of our own puppy), that yes, he was a very, very good boy, and then head to the restaurant. By which time, thanks to the new rules, I had 90 minutes left to enjoy my evening.
But it was really wonderful to see them for the first time since January, and catch up. At 10pm, my Dad was waiting outside the restaurant for me to take me home. Thirty years ago, this would have incited great rage and embarrassment. Now it was pure gratitude, even if he did take it as an opportunity to tell my friends in amazement, how much they look like their mothers did three decades ago.
Once back at my parents, I sat up chatting with them until 2am, relishing the chance to catch up properly without anyone trying to start a row, or refusing to go to bed, or constantly coming in asking for food. I might leave my husband at home every time from now on.
I have to say that my week did not improve after that. The following Monday evening, my teenager had an epic meltdown that would have rivalled Chernobyl. In her defence she was facing a perfect storm of feeling unwell, exhausted from not sleeping, a torrent of hormones and a mother who was not going to back down. With hindsight, backing down might have been preferable to having to text the neighbours to both apologise for the noise, and to reassure them that we were all in fact, alive. We passed less than smoothly through the psychotic anger phase, before moving into the thirty minute sobbing of ‘what’s wrong with me? with just a brief detour into the ‘I wish I was dead’ territory.
The following day did not bring the much-wished for peace either. I had nipped to the loo before taking the dog out, only to discover that my own hormones, which are all over the place as well, had brought me the ‘wrong time of the month’ for the second time in four weeks. A quick glance to the side revealed that one of my wonderful family members had used the last of the loo roll AGAIN, so I sent a graphic text message to my husband (who was on a work call, but can use his headset to move around) explaining exactly why I needed the loo roll, and what would happen if I tried to get it by myself.
Only I didn’t send it to my husband. No, I accidentally sent that gem to the group of neighbours I had texted the previous evening. Needless to say my house is now on the market, and I am never going out without a baseball cap again. And even though it was only 10am, I was definitely saying…
Bring on Bedtime!