My daughter, Jordan, is going to be 19 in a couple of days. This upcoming birthday has made me nostalgic and a bit mopey for some reason.
Where does the time go?
Am I my child’s friend? No, I am not, I am her mother, which by and large ought to be better*. At almost 19, Jordan is an adult, but she is still my child. She can trust me, I won’t let her down, I will be there for her no matter what ever happens in her life. She knows this, she has heard it from the horse’s mouth her entire life. I love her unconditionally and think she is rather a fine person. This does not mean there have not been occasions where I could have cheerfully throttled her. Children can do that to a person. Children of any age.
One of the things people often say to me about her is how ‘well-mannered’ she is. And she is, but by golly, that was a hard-won battle.
‘My friends are terrified of you.’ She said, laughingly, as we drove into town to see Macbeth, recently.
‘I see.’ I said. ‘Why?”
But in truth I know why. I am old school. I expect things from them. Manners for one.
I mentioned to another mother over the weekend something I did when my daughter was but a sapling. We were discussing teenagers, but I was rather surprised when she gasped and laughed.
‘You did not!’ This lady said.
‘I certainly did.’
What I did was simple. When Jordan was about 13 or 14 her friends would phone the home looking for her. The vast majority of the times they would call and say –
Whereupon I would promptly and wordlessly hang up the phone. Sometimes they would ring back, confused.
‘Er, I was on a second ago, Is Jordan there?’
And again I would wordlessly hang up and wander off to do stuff that did not involve talking to ill-mannered children.
‘I think your mother hung up on me.’ They would then complain to my daughter at school.
‘She did.’ Jordan would reply – most likely rolling her eyes, ‘morto’.
‘Look, you can’t ring my house and just ask for me, she’ll hang up. You’ve got to say “hello Arlene/ Mrs Hunt/ Mrs Mangan/ Mrs Hunt-Mangan/ Mangan-Hunt.” Then Identify yourself and finally ASK to speak with me. If you don’t she’ll just keep hanging up on you.’
No doubt they thought I was a right pain, but lo and behold within weeks anytime anyone called looking Jordan, they were unfailingly polite and thus the seeds of respect were sown – albeit somewhat forcefully.
The same applied for any friends that called to the house. First time visitors are introduced to both parents by Jordan, older friends say hello and good-bye when they leave and anyone that needs to ‘crash’ they seek permission to do so before the event not after. If Jordan is out for the night she can tell us beforehand, or text us during the night to say she won’t be home.
Basic manners, innit?
And yet so sorely lacking so often.
‘You should hear the way some of my friends talk to their parents.’ She informed me the night of Macbeth.
‘Yeah, it’s mad. I wouldn’t dare talk to you like that, you’d kill me.’
‘I’m afraid Gordo, sometimes fear and respect go hand in hand.’ I said, but thinking that respect is usually earned by consistency.
We parked in Drury Street and walked to the Abbey. Whereupon Jordan immediately turned into Hyacinth Bucket (every time we go to the theatre she adopts this weird hilarious tone of voice, sort of ‘and how DO you FIND the theatre?’)
During the interval we had a drink and a chat. She told me some entertaining story or other about one of her friend’s band’s gigs (she knows about a million people it seems) As she spoke all I could think was how much I loved her to iddy biddy pieces, how much I enjoyed her company, and how on earth could she walk in those heels.
* not always the case.