Monday, 16 July 2007

Two Tribes Go To War.

“There’s been an uprising in school today”, proclaimed my son as he crashed the front door behind him, but not before four other hapless teenage boys followed him and chucked their rucksacks onto my hall floor.
Folding laundry, I looked up to receive a kiss on the top of my head.
“So what happened then? Did a bunch of revolutionaries storm the Bastille?” I asked, pausing the folding to slap his hand away from the cakes.
“Please just the one”, he mumbled, scoffing a meringue before I could stop him.
“Ha, ha Alice. Good one”, added one of his friends, “Very timely response”.
“Why?” my son grunted, flakes of meringue falling onto my kitchen floor.
“Will you please clean that up”, I reprimanded, “Because it is almost 14th July when it was curtains for the French aristocracy. Never heard of the French Revolution darling?”
“Oh yeah”.
“Gee whiz and you want to do History GCSE. Gawd help us. So what happened in school?”
By now my kitchen had been colonised by a bunch of young men with after school munchies, all ravenous, peering into various tins and making gallons of coffee. Years ago, when a teen myself, a nice cup of tea was in order, or, if you lived in a sophisticated family, a jar of Mellow Birds graced the pantry. These days it is a completely different story, with three different cafetieres on the go, there was ground coffee all over my kitchen counter and boiled water sluicing down behind the kettle.
“For the love of God boys, let me do it”. They capitulated very easily by jumping up and out of the way onto my kitchen counter. I sighed, whilst my son, now sipping my finest Kenyan regaled me of a fight between the Emo’s and the Goth’s.
“Only they weren’t really Emo’s and Goth’s, more nerds and chavs”.
I looked blank. I’ve tried desperately to keep abreast of the latest teenage tribes but an Emo threw me for six.
“Are you sure you don’t mean Emu, as in ‘Rod Hull and..’. It was his turn to look perplexed.
“Oh mum, Emo is short for emotional”. I obviously still looked puzzled. He continued.
“It implies an angsty teen. Someone who walks around in very tight jeans, wraps himself in a mad scarf even in summer, dyes his hair back, develops an eating disorder and rants about how ‘nobody understands’”.
“Hell’s bells, apart from the jeans that’s me”, I cried in a moment of epiphany, “I am an Emo mother! Can I go and hang out outside BHS in Plymouth on Saturday then?”
My son and his friends looked horrified. “Oh come on, why not? It would be nice to mix with people who understand. Of course my eating disorder has more to do with overeating then starving myself but nevertheless, if they are as filled with angst as you say, I’m bound to find an empathic soul mate”.
I had gone too far. There was an embarrassed silence and the slurping of coffee was halted.
I however, was enjoying myself. “Why are you all looking so uncomfortable? You are not the only generation to relate to a ‘tribe’ you know. Dad used to be a punk in his hey day – well, as far as he could without his Master at Arms throwing a wobbly. Pink hair was out for him but he did get away with a safety pin in his ear.” The boys looked down at their feet as though I were saying something wholly subversive.
“I haven’t always been a frumpy mother you know”. They didn’t want to know, but I told them regardless.
“In fact I once hung out with Elvis after a gig”. The boys looked up immediately, rather impressed.
“Wow Alice”, said one, “That’s really cool. Have you been to Graceland then?”
“No, not Elvis Presley, Elvis Costello. Besides I’m not that old. I was only a kid when he died. I have however, snogged Paul Weller”, I said triumphantly.
“Ok Ma, that’s enough”, said my son jumping down and walking out of the kitchen, all the other boys trailing in his wake.
“Spoil sports”, I called after them, “He didn’t slip me the tongue though”. I laughed. It must be a parent’s most satisfying moment when we can make our children cringe in mortification. I for one felt very pleased with myself. It was not to last a moment longer though as my hormonal 11 year old barged in.
“Did you get everything I need for food tech?” she had a face like thunder and I attempted to interpret what she needed for food tech without winding her up any further. I played it safe. Last week she’d made bread, perhaps that’s what she was making again.
“Well duh”.
“Don’t duh me please. What else to you need?” She sprang like a coiled viper.
“I’ve told you already. I gave you a list. You never remember what I need” with that she pushed a chair over and, in floods of tears, ran out of the room. I sighed and was about to follow her when the doorbell rang. It was another one of the mum’s from the PTA coming to pick up the meringues for sports day.
“Just a moment”, I called. Retrieving what was left of the meringues I passed them through the door as the Red-Head came crying.
“Not me watch Saved by Bell, me watch Dora”. I scooped her up and walked into the sitting room. The 11 year old was in control of the controls.
“She was watching Dora love. You shouldn’t just switch over to what you..” I didn’t finish my sentence as she jumped up, cried some more and flounced out, throwing the controls at me.
Ah boy, should any young person see me outside BHS today, wearing a scarf and looking ‘angsty’, let me into your tribe, please.


It's just me said...

Just found your blog, and am thoroughly enjoying reading back through the archive's.

I might meet you outside BHS btw...

Lisa said...

I've been 'angsty' my whole life, finally someone who understands!
Isn't it funny, we must have been like 11 year old at one time, and now I look at girls like they're from another planet!
I'm most sure I was NEVER as teary or unpredictable ;)

Alice Band said...

it's just me - thankyou. Sorry about SWMMS.

Lisa - I was never as 'gobby' to my mother!!

Broker said...

Don't tell me you don't know what love is
When you're old enough to know better - Elvis Costello

"Teenage boys, goaded by their surging hormones run in packs like the primal horde. They have only a brief season of exhilarating liberty between control by their mothers and control by their wives."

Alice Band said...

Broker - as one who generally feels totally out of control perhaps you are much mistaken?

la cubana gringa said...

Crap. I'm so out of touch...I clearly don't know my Emo's from my Goth's! I thought Goth's were the angsty ones that dressed in black and complain that the world doesn't understand?!?

Alice Band said...

la cubana gringa - I think you are correct but they don't wear pastel sweaters and have peculiar fringes (bangs)

Sally Lomax said...

According to my teens, Emos do self harming as well - not nice. THey don't wash their hair either. Also not nice!

Excellent post Alice as always. Can relate to it. I have that same eating disorder as you too....

enidd said...

enidd has three nephews who are emos - they wear eye liner and other dark things. very odd.

she'll join you outside bhs, though.

Alice Band said...

Sally - Not wash their hair?? Ugh. Perhaps you, me and Enidd can meet outside BHS one day?!

Sally Lomax said...

Could we not drown our sorrows somewhere more glam.....?

Such as.......a health spa.

Preferably one that is very luxurious, free, and believes that wine is healthy or something...

Alice Band said...

Jesus, isn't wine healthy? Bugger.

Sally Lomax said...


Red wine lowers cholesterol, so perhaps lots of it would lower it all the more??!!

Alice Band said...

Let's make a date..

Alice's Son said...

Mum you drink enough to be on a practical drip of prosseco, see I am a good son I do remember your favourite. You could've just asked me about emos, I know a fair few, skinny jeans, stripey jumpers, dodgey piercings, eye liner and slit wrists. Then you've got people like NuRavers.....