Chat from an Empty Nester
My lovely Annie arrives home in Bangkok today from the UK, having pretty much finished her year’s study. It’s a reprieve from my being an empty nester! Her third term consists of zero lessons, only three exams in late May (she opted for lots of coursework modules this year) and a bill for about 3,300 pounds for the privilege of sitting those exams. Putting that aside, I’m beyond excited to have her home.
Weirdly, even though I’m 50 and Annie’s 20, I bet that whilst she’s here I’ll defer to her in most decision-making and structure my own days around her plans. (Hopefully they will include me a little bit!) Don’t for one minute think that’s Annie’s fault. It really isn’t. She’s as laid back as a sloth during the holidays, but I just really want her to have a good time and for her to keep coming back to visit. Good job I don’t have a ‘needy mum’ siren alert attached to me as I’d be arrested for noise pollution!!
Things you Shouldn't Tell a Teenage Daughter
I can’t tell you how super excited I am to see her. I’m jittering around like a chihuahua dog on speed. (The plane lands in just 18 minutes according to the arrival board!) However, I am also pretty anxious that I will come across as annoying. Apparently I can be. So, in the interests of a harmonious household, these are some things that I vow NOT to do:
- Encourage early nights. Telling a 20 year old it is time to go to bed is patronizing.
- Tut about clothing choices. I fight with this one all the time-yes, of course women should be empowered to wear whatever they like, but as a worried mum I can’t help feeling a duffle coat and paper bag would be an appropriate night-clubbing choice of attire.
- Mind mess. After all, a few discarded plates, socks, clothes, hair-bands, empty coffee cups, glasses, chocolate wrappers, and nail-polish jars around make a place homely.
- Muddle up or forget Annie’s friends’ names. Even though I’ve never met them it shows a lack of meaningful engagement in earlier conversations.
- Expect full attention if friends are online and accessible by mobile phone.
- Expect any attention if friends are on-line and accessible by mobile phone.
- Comment negatively on 8 hours solid of Netflix viewing or suggest reading a book as an alternative.
- Suggest wearing more sun-cream or covering up. Two years of English weather seems to have negated my 17 years of effort to keep her out of the sun.
- Indirectly, or directly force her to help with IT based ‘jobs’ that are too hard for me the second she has sat down. I’ll give her at least until tomorrow before asking for help.
Things to Tell a Teenage Daughter
I could keep going, but I’m questioning whether I am coming over a bit passive aggressive! With only 12 minutes until the plane lands, maybe I should focus on what I will do to create a harmonious household. These are the things I definitely will do:
- Grab cuddles and hugs at every opportunity. (This does have a danger of creeping into the annoying list.)
- Encourage the aforementioned watching of Netflix on the actual TV, rather than her hibernating in her room with her laptop.
- Stay up until at least nine o’clock. There is a sense in the house that I abandon the family as soon as the ‘watershed’ comes on. I just get tired!
- Make ‘breakfast in bed’ – not as a ruse just to get her out of it, but as a genuine gesture of motherly love.
- Give her space and set a strict limit on how many questions I will ask.
- Treat her to all the things that as a student she can’t afford. (I can’t think of any right now, but I’m working on it.)
Just five minutes until arrival time. There’s one more thing that I really must do, which is tell her how proud I am of her, because I am. She’s a fantastic kid. (Oops, young woman.)
Yikes, she’s here so I have to go. One last ‘will not do’:
I definitely will not insist on having loads of photos at the airport after she has been on the go for nearly 24 hours. Or maybe I’ll just remember that for next time!