“Please wear your coat to school today,” I beg of my teen as I leave the house at eight this morning.
“Why?” she replies, a look on her face of genuine bemusement, tinged with disgust at the very notion of dressing sensibly.
I hesitate for a moment and the ridiculousness of this as a response. “Um… the sub-zero temperatures?” A solid argument I feel.
“Ergh,” not a very witty comeback, “but where am I supposed to put it?” she asks.
“The general idea is that you wear it,” I reply.
This kind of exchange is endlessly frustrating and demoralising. I really feel I am being quite reasonable in requesting that she doesn’t make the two mile round trip to school through icy winds in just a thin shirt and unbuttoned blazer, (it is apparently a complete faux pas to actually do it up), and yet I am made to feel like that most irritating of all mothers – a nag.
It is very tiresome to have to repeat this sort of conversation over and over, and it can often leave me feeling lonely. On the family battlefield I am, quite literally, one man down – one woman on her own against two children. Two very opinionated children at that. It is in these kind of situations that I miss the voice in the background, the often ineffective but nevertheless reassuring deeper voice, dispensing supportive one liners – “Listen to your mother!”
When you parent alone, you have to be good cop AND bad cop, maintain friendly relations yet still command respect. Maybe I could try developing a multiple personality disorder? Or recording an authoritative male voice off the radio – John Humphries perhaps – to be played back in times of crisis. Hmmm. Or maybe not. I’ll get my coat…
Flickr pic by Dangerpup