Our daughter turned 13 today. Our son turns 15 next month. I am now, literally, living with teenagers. The last time that was true was when I was a teenager myself, many, many years ago. In recognition of this I have dug out another book that I have previously only flicked through, never read from cover to cover: “Living with teenagers” by Anonymous.
I probably read over half of it, bit by bit, when it appeared in the Guardian’s Weekend edition as a regular column. I was hoping that the book would show the original dates of publication, but it doesn’t. The articles have been removed from the Guardian website, as I mentioned in this piece (“Not everything is copy”) back in 2016. This review by Kate Figes (also in the Guardian) is dated March 2008 and the column began some time in 2006, probably before my daughter was born. There was very little in the pieces that related to my daily life back then, as the parent of a toddler, with another child on the way. From what I have read so far there isn’t much that relates to my life now either.
There are two big differences reading these columns now compared to when they originally appeared. First of all, I know what happened next, immediately after the book was published. You can read about it here if you have not followed the previous link: not a happy ending. Secondly, with the pieces collected together so that you can read a dozen or more in under an hour, rather than spread out over several months, the cumulative effect is far less entertaining. It feels like you are witnessing something that shouldn’t be quite so public. Or maybe that’s because I know what happened next. I hope that things have worked out better for all concerned in the years that have passed since the book came out.
Today’s celebrations were not much different from my daughter’s recent pre-teen birthdays: a few friends round after school, a tea party, the other girls (all of whom are still 12) collected by parents before 8.30pm. It was a regular school day. Next year all of her schoolfriends will also be teenagers, and her birthday will be on a Sunday. Maybe it will all be very different. Either way, I won’t be posting weekly updates about my children’s behaviour and my attempts at parenting. Not everything is copy.