Our layabout 15 year old Boy Wretch….



… is asleep, which I appreciate is hardly an unusual state of affairs, and admittedly not particularly noteworthy if that single piece of information is to be taken at face value.

However, there are a couple of reasonably unusual factors at play here:
1. It’s 1700 hours. That’s 5pm in old money. I clarify not because you won’t know that but because I can’t quite believe it and need to see it confirmed in black and white.
2. It’s a Friday evening.
3. He’s fifteen.

This is distinctly odd. Odd both from a teenage behavioural perspective, and odd-just-bloody-weird from any other perspective you care to consider it. Especially if you know Boy Wretch One like I do.

The thing is, Boy Wretch One doesn’t sleep. Unless, that is, it’s time to get up. Or it’s way past time to get up. Or when it’s his turn to get out of the car and open the (admittedly awkward) gate. Then, somehow he’s miraculously fast asleep and uncontactable to depths that ought to have us dialling emergency digits. At gate opening moments or ‘get up it’s time to go to school’ moments he’s miraculously dead to the world and no amount of calling, bellowing or unmerciful jabbing will awaken Prince-Sleeping-Bloody-Beauty. Oh yes – when it’s convenient for him, His Royal Arsiness will sleep for ruddy England.

However, it is 17.05. On a Friday. And it’s eating into WOGT with his mates. This is cause for concern – is he ill? Further investigation is needed.

WOGT – (which in case you’re wondering is in-house terminology for Weekend Online Gaming Time) – is strictly limited to weekends from Friday to Sunday. No bludgeoning, blowing-up or axing of animated opponent is allowed from Monday to Thursday. Friday to Sunday extreme violence is fine, they can knock themselves out.

I’m not entirely convinced of the actual value of this (draconian according to our boys) house rule, and concede it might be perceived as a total nonsense in this avid age of techno-gaming, but it is the only thing we can pat ourselves on the back with, self-congratulatory style, that we are in fact EXCELLENT parents. Hence as a result of it being severely restricted WOGT is vigorously defended by, in particular the oldest Boy Wretch, and if even a minute of bludgeoning time is in jeopardy …

On creeping (and creaking – the floorboards are a mess) into his room, tiptoeing cringingly through the shadowy gloom, I instantly knock over his pile of 8kg workout weights to a resounding CRASH! Smashed baby toe! – I do a silent scream – but no movement! Incredulous – the noise could have wakened the dearly departed – I inch towards the mass under the crumpled duvet. I dither over whether to check he’s ok. I mean – I do actually love him, in spite of his general fifteenish-arsiness …. But, in bed on a Friday afternoon rather than hunched over his PC, LED lights popping, fingers whirring like a demented concert pianist? …

I must get a grip, don’t be silly woman, he’s in rude good health! He was scoffing an over-stuffed ham and cucumber bagel with gusto and shouting loudly with his mouth full not half an hour ago….

“Things any better at home yet? Did the ‘long chat’ have any bearing?” – enquired one of two close friends who were beavering away alongside me at Bricks & Stitches where I (work and) drink a lot of excellent coffee a couple of days a week, and with whom I regularly share concerns about our oldest boy wretch and his recently perfected Neanderthal status.

“Yes, actually – I really think there’s an improvement! He got me in a head-lock yesterday.”

You could have heard a pin drop.

Two pairs of enquiring, concerned eyes bore a hole into me. A hot flush threatened to engulf and I heard myself babbling – “No no, that’s progress, honestly! It was a very affectionate head-lock! It involved a head rub and everything….” I faltered, regarded them rolling around on the floor and it occurred to me that I might have a rather unusual relationship with our boys.

Example – the youngest boy wretch takes enormous delight in dump-tackling me at any and every opportunity. To be fair to him, if we happen to be, say, in the kitchen and in close proximity to hard surfaces he’ll usually stop just before lifting me off my feet and actually dumping me – (often the disastrous point of no return) which has been forbidden since Boy Wretch One gave me an unexpected fireman’s lift around the kitchen a couple of years ago. He got a bit exuberant, sped up and smashed my head on the edge of the quartz island by mistake. That black eye took a bit of explaining.

However, if we’re anywhere near soft furnishings it seems I’m fair game. I’ve learnt to keep my back to the wall and sleep with one eye open. We’re often to be witnessed legging it around the kitchen or hurtling from bedroom to bedroom – me, arms flailing and screaming in genuine terror ala Penelope Pitstop – him, Dick Dastardly in hot pursuit! It’s an interesting household. But I digress….

Back to Friday evening, and I just think I should check him. In some way.

A tentative prod. A gentle clearing of the throat sort of a noise? I’m actually a master at waking The Egg without actually waking him, if you know what I mean. When The Egg’s on his back and snoring like a Harrier jet taking off I find I can make a sort of a throat noise that juust brings him to the surface without fully dragging him into resentful consciousness. It’s an art form I’ve worked long and hard at over the years and is extremely valuable in diverting a furious middle-of-the-night ‘who’s snoring the loudest?’ contest. It usually begins with “Can you stop snoring darl? Please get off your back”… “I’m NOT snoring. I’m wide awake. I’ve been awake for HOURS – how can I be snoring?!”….“Well, you are! I’m mean, I’m hardly going to wake up especially to tell you to stop snoring if you aren’t actually snoring now am I?”…. “I tell you I’m not snoring! It’s probably YOU! You probably woke yourself up with your own snoring!”… and so on and so forth. The nights fly by.

Suddenly, I notice something! Something important. Something not recently experienced.

I pause, gazing down at the messily tousled head just peeping over the top of the crumpled, skanky duvet – (why are teenage boys so smelly? Note to self – acquaint said duvet with washing machine…) – and I notice …. The Peace.

It’s Peaceful.

It’s absolutely…utterly…. blissfully…. quiet.

Ok, so holding my breath and really concentrating there’s a soft rumbling growl emanating from within the tomb before me not dissimilar to a muffled Darth Vader but ….. it’s really ever so calm. I concentrate. Almost eerily quiet. This is not a usual Friday afternoon. No aggrieved bellows from either boy wretch. No loud thumps or piercing screams as one slugs the other. No maniacal laughter. No smashing of delicate beloved objects, no…. nothing. It’s very, very nice.

A soft, heavenly choir plays in my head, and I give fervent thanks for teenage growth hormones.

A gentle click of the door handle and I slip, discreetly, from the room.

Motionless on the landing in the gathering gloom, I feel a deep sigh bubbling. I made it. It’s Friday Night and Gin O’clock.

No bones broken.

Ruminations of a Mad Cow

3 Comments on “Our layabout 15 year old Boy Wretch….”

  1. Brilliant! I love the (now firmly implanted in my mind) visual of him tackling you while you cook. Looking forward to the next instalment!

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