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Saturday, 7 March 2009

More Plundering

Been reading a lot today about Juliegate. Opinion seems to fall firmly into two camps; those who are taking her discomfiture as a good ol' opportunity to give her a right kicking, (I never liked her, I hated her on Newsnight, I hate journalists who use their family in columns etc) and those who feel that unless you've had a teenage skunk addict in the house you don't know what you're talking about.

There are loads of cannabis websites that are firmly of the opinion that skunk is harmless and just as many unhappy parents who are equally firm about how skunk destroyed their child. Those who believe that skunk is harmless skip over the details of Jake Myerson's horrible behaviour at home, dismissing it as the whinings of a privileged successful woman who has somehow got her comeuppance. Ever since online papers introduced comments from readers you have to keep reminding yourself that you haven't wandered onto the Daily Mail site by mistake. You wonder what would happen if you became well known and then something went wrong. All those people lining up to say how much they always hated you . . . . .

I still don't think she did the right thing in making this particular batch of family laundry so public. Maybe Jake's real 'crime' was dropping a huge bomb into the family life she spent so much time and energy constructing, having had such a miserable childhood herself. Even Jake admits that his "childhood was idyllic."

And I think of The Boy who being a teenager Knows Everything about Everything. Tch! And think of Myerson's anguished description of Jake's growing paranoia, hitting her so hard she ends up in A&E, then being ok the next day, then chucking pots of plants through the front door, until Jonathan Myerson, hands shaking dials 999. How would I feel calling the police on my own son? Desperate and Shit in equal measure. I can't believe she's made this stuff up. And what do you do? You don't stop loving your boy - even if you hate his guts.

On the other hand there's Jake acting as though he smoked a few spliffs and his parents go nuts and chuck him out of the house. The kind of grandiose behaviour that only a teenager (mostly) is capable of.

The other day, The Boy forgot to take his lunch (prepared by me) out of the fridge. It was pretty damn obvious, a large box filled with food sitting in the middle of the fridge. Alas, there was no label on it reading LUNCH FOR THE BOY. So he forgot it. I was upset and on the point of driving to school to drop it off when Husband pointed out that he wasn't going to learn to switch his brain on in the morning unless he learned consequences. "Put the car keys down woman" he finished, sternly. I did. But when The Boy came home he squawked that he "couldnt' find his lunch in the fridge!" How could he not have seen it? "I. Just. Couldn't!" yelled The Boy, absolutely secure in his rightness and my unequivocal wrongness.

I thought of that conversation today and his utter conviction that he knows everything and I can teach him nothing. How would I cope if it was about cannabis and not his inability to find his lunch right in front of his eyes? Badly I suspect.


Kit Courteney said...

I'm glad I'm not a fucking parent.

That's all I can say.

I applaud you.


Robert said...

When I found out that my 14 year old girl was getting drunk with a crowd of her mates, I did the "wise father" talk. It made no difference. Almost 10 years later, I asked her what more could I have done that would have stopped her binge drinking at that early age (or any age, for that matter)? "Absolutley nothing," she told me. "I had to learn it for myself. Part of the reason that I didn't continue heavy drinking was your calm attitude. You never told me off and I knew you were always there for me. I realised that I wanted to be like you, and that meant drinking a lot less. Also, you made me feel guilty without even trying..."

I think that shouting at her and/or throwing her out of the house would have given her an altogether different role model - one which I'm glad she won't be following - and she would have been driven into the arms of the binge-drinking gang.

I COULD write about her in a book - but only if no-one else could identify the character as her. I couldn't risk damaging any of my kids' lives writing about them in a way that they didn't like.

Ruth Moss said...

I kind of missed that story... this is the Mum who wrote a book about her son's cannabis addiction?

I guess I can understand how someone might be so desperate with their child's behaviour to kick them out of the house (although as someone who was kicked out of the house for perfectly normal young adult behaviour you might be able to guess where my sympathies lie slightly more) but to then write a book about it?

It does seem a little odd. But I wonder if she took so much stick about kicking him out that she felt she needed to publicly justify her decision?

As someone who (after leaving home I might add) regularly used to use recreational drugs, I'm not too concerned about Bertie because as soon as he smokes his first joint I'll say "ooh me and your Dad used to have a few bongs and then dance to crappy Scouse House" and it will immediately become the least cool thing in the world EVAR. ;-)

Jane said...

Wow Robert, that's amazingly restrained of you. I must say I'm more worried about cheap alcohol than drugs. But it does seem that the 'throwing your hands up in horror' approach does seem in general, to have an adverse effect on teenage behaviour.

Ah Ruth - you wise bird. Yes I remember Libby Purves writing that the quickest way to get rid of a hideous suitor of your child was to weclome them with open arms, crying: "You MUST tell me where you get your tattooes done!" Apparently your child will then drop said suitor like a hot turd. Maybe that's the way to go with drugs too.