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Why don’t teenagers come with a manual?

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On my living room floor, there is a pile of roasted and salted peanuts. Looking a little more closely I can see some cashew nuts too. It’s quite a heaped pile. A bowlful I’d say. What they’re doing on the living room carpet just underneath the bay fronted window, I have no idea. They’ve been there for about a week now and mysteriously appeared whilst I had my friend’s twin daughters to stay, Esther and Charlotte, both fifteen.

 

“You’re an absolute star!” Helen called as she jogged back down my driveway to her car which was still running after dropping off the two girls.

 

“How hard can it be looking after two fifteen year old girls!” I laughed smiling.

 

“Exactly! They’ll just spend the week on their IPads. All you need to do is provide them with food, drink and a wifi connection!” And with that she was off, for a week long training course in sunny Poole.

 

Yes, that was ALL apparently! But it wasn’t ALL! What Helen had failed to inform me was teenagers are practically an entirely different species to the normal, sensible, courteous human beings I’m used to dealing with. Teenagers don’t speak, they grunt, and when they are awake enough to attempt to voice a sentence, they slur all their words like a drunken football lout and make you ask them to repeat themselves time after time until you end up sounding like a deaf OAP and they look at you as if you are one! Teenagers don’t eat meals, they snack on crisps, chocolate bars, apples, toast, Coco Pops and salted nuts….. but fail to clear up after themselves and bin any wrappers and uneaten food. They leave half finished drinks of fizzy pop around the house and look at you like you’re trying to poison them when you expect them to finish the now warm, flat drink the next time they’re thirsty. Teenagers DO spend all day on their computers/Ipads or mobiles, but that’s not until they’ve spent the entire morning in bed. And when you inform them that we’re going out for a walk after lunch, as in ALL of us, because we ALL need some fresh air and to get out of the house, they manage to look at you with the sharpest daggers in their eyes, and make it as clear as day with their undeniable body language that they absolutely HATE you! For no other reason than…… well, that’s just it. I don’t believe there was a valid reason.

 

Sophie on the other hand found the girls fascinating. They weren’t fun, in her mind like I’d hoped they would be for her, but they were like an interesting new species she’d never come across before. She observed them with fascination and asked questions about them. “Are the girls awake yet? Can I wake them? Do they want breakfast? Do they like dolls? Would they like to play on my bike? What are they doing on the onkyooter (computer)? She mentally noted down her observations and the answers to her questions for future reference.

 

It’s now been a week since Helen picked the twins up and I’m finally getting round to doing some cleaning. I decide the easiest way to clear up the nuts is by scraping them onto a dustpan. Sophie is sitting on the sofa watching Tiny Pop with her new best friend Jasmine.

 

“What do you want to do when you’re a grow nut (Grownup) ?” Sophie asks, clearly losing interest in the latest episode of ‘Napkin Man’.

 

“I think I want to help my mummy do baking.” Jasmine replies.

 

“No! No, no you can’t do that. Not when you’re a grow nut.”

 

“Yes, I can.”

 

“No! You have to live in your own house. Not with your mummy and daddy.” Jasmine looks a little disturbed by this thought. Her brown eyes widen as if it was something she had never quite realised. She then begins to think some more whilst Sophie says. “You have to have a job. Like me, I’m going to do a little bit of everything. All the jobs. I’m going to be a doctor and a teacher and a shop lady and a swimming teacher and a ballet teacher….” she takes a breath, “…but not all at the same time. That would be silly and I’d get tired. I’m just going to do them all but one at a time.”

 

Jasmine looks confused. Her freckled forehead creases. She starts to speak slowly as if she’s thinking at the same time, “Well, I think I’ll be a teenager then.”

 

“A teenager?” Sophie asks. “I don’t think you can do that. Did you know that teenagers…” she emphasises, “teenagers stay asleep all day and don’t wake up until lunch time!”

 

Jasmine looks horrified by this thought, “But, that means they don’t eat breakfast?”
“Yes.” Sophie affirms wide-eyed as if they were both experienced naturalists and had just discovered a shocking fact about a newly discovered species. And, to be fair, I think they probably have!

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