Family: Mum's the Word

Transgressing the teenage code



Oh no. What have I said?

We were mid phone chat, me walking home from work, enjoying scuffing along through the autumn leaves in my bouncy docs, her at home applying fake tan (I know, but you have to pick your battles) watching Caso Cerrado, the Spanish Judge Judy, and it was all, How was your day? What’s for tea? Any homework? And she was telling me how something had left her soooooooo very bored that she felt like...

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“Self-harming?” I jumped in with. “I know what you mean. Well, my day was…”

“Mother! No! That’s so wrong. You can’t say that!”

“Eh? What? Self-harming?”


“Oh, sorry, yes, you’re right. Especially to teenagers. Very bad taste. What was I thinking?” I trot out, then regroup. “Of course, it’s a serious issue, I realise that, very serious. Terrible, with the teenagers and the self-harming. But it’s just something my friends and I say because of our bad sense of humour and I forgot…”

“Don’t. Don’t even bother trying to make excuses or explain,” she says.

“I’m not saying it’s right, it’s just…”

“It’s not allowed,” she says. For some reason, maybe I’m enjoying the role reversal and her outrage, but now that I’ve gone off the PC script, I feel compelled to confess further imaginary transgressions.

“And sometimes we laugh about picky eaters who won’t eat gluten or lactose when they don’t even have an intolerance but just because it’s fashionable. ‘Have you got gluten free salad?’ I mimic, (nasty I know – they’re not doing any harm and there could be something in the dressing), and how my friend the coeliac says it’s ruining things for him because every eatery offers a gluten free menu but they’re not always that careful and the gluteny stuff gets mixed up…” but she’s not listening, she’s gone.

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I wonder what my punishment will be. No tea? Great, I won’t have to cook. Sent to my room to think about my behaviour? Nice. I’ll go to bed. Grounding? Bring it on. As long as it’s not one of her lectures, they make me want to...