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Monday, 23 August 2010


** this is a story I wrote about three years ago, when my daughter was 16. It is based on fact. At the time, I didn’t publish it because I didn’t want to incur my daughter’s wrath. Now she’s an adult, she can cope, can't you darling? It's too good not to share. So if you’re a parent of a teenager, or know a teenager, read on! x

The phone call came about 10.45pm on Friday night. My girlfriend and I were slothing it on the lounge, just like we did when we were in high school. Except now that we're in our 40s we have better accessories to sloth with. No Fanta bottles or large bags of Samboy chips. Nor for that matter black and white television and The Young Doctors.

We had Colin Firth and Love Actually on the wide-screen plasma, a Pamela's Pantry tray of nibbles, Belgian chocolate, a NZ Sauvignon Blanc and Chanel nail polish.

Even our bottled water came from France. But then again, it is cheaper these days to buy water from France than from the Brisbane City Council.

We had dropped our 16 year old daughters off at a party at Kenmore after we had watched them apply an unhealthy amount of black eyeliner and cheap bling. Kinda like Joan Jett meets Liberace. Or Frank-N-Furter meets, well, Frank-N-Furter.

We knew there would be boys at this party. We knew there would be alcohol at this party. But we'd checked in with the host parents and established that they were responsible and watchful and keen to have it all over red rover by midnight. So we scuttled back to switch on Colin and start painting our toes.

We had got through Bridget Jones's Diary 1 and 2, replayed the fight in the fountain scene four times, eaten all of Pamela's offerings and had started on Love Actually when the phone rang.

Dammit. Colin was just moving to Portugal to write his book.

"Mum, can you come pick us up? Nicola doesn't feel very well."

Helen and I looked at each other. Helen being the mother of Nicola. I mean, it's not like we weren't 16 once. It's not like we didn't go to a party and decide we didn't feel very well halfway through it. It's not like our parents ever refused to come get us.

We collected the girls and we're on Kenmore Road, sort of about that spot where you turn off to Lone Pine, when Nicole goes, "Stop the car, I'm going to be sick."

Helen and I looked at each other. Helen being the mother of Nicola. I mean, it's not like we weren't 16 once. It's not like we didn't sneak copious amount of alcohol when we should have stuck to the Fanta. It's not like we didn't throw up every now and then. Hell, we still do it now sometimes.

While Nicola was, I am sure, garnering the interest of the animals five kilometres away at Lone Pine with her squawking and heaving, I turned to my daughter.

"Darling, what were you girls drinking at the party?"

"Oh, like, you know, just some Midori," she says.

My stomach heaved. It took me back to my days of Peach Cooler and West Coasts. I thought these drinks were fabulous until one day I turned 24, discovered wine and really, my liver and I haven't looked back since.
"What were you mixing it with?" I continued.

She looked at me perplexed. "What? You're supposed to mix it?"

I will never wear green again. Not even eye shadow. Even if Jennifer Hawkins says to.

Semi-formals are another story where teenage daughters rival Britney in terms of attention stakes. Yes, I said SEMI-formals. We haven't even reached the real thing yet. This is just the dress rehearsal, the warm-up, the barrier trial. Sort of like your first marriage really.

By the time she had the spray tan, the upstyle "do", the acrylic nails, the facial with extractions, the eye brow wax, the Elizabeth Arden make-up, the gel toes, the car hire and the massage because of the stress of it all, her bank account was depleted and I was hiding my Visa.

It's a tough spot for me to be in though - she's my only child; a daughter at that, and I'm young enough to remember how wonderful yet how shitty it can be when you're 16. My gorgeous yet practical mother had purchased me a very serviceable dress for my semi-formal and did my hair herself. I'm still in therapy. I didn't want that for Jade.

So we're on our way to the semi. Ever driven in a car with four hyper-excited teenagers? Ever driven in a car with four hyenas in full make-up and heels? That's why nothing frightens me anymore. I have a teenager.

They said "oh my God" so many times, I started to think that our good Lord was in their midst. I blessed myself just to be on the safe side.

Listening to their chatter whilst desperately trying not to comment was about as challenging as having a cleared credit card and not buying the Nine West boots that were on sale.

They go to an exclusive all girls school for the chronically Catholic. The teaching staff still boasts a handful of nuns (hey sista) and the past students boast more than a handful of OP1s. Which is why I'm amazed at their perceived wisdom and interpretation of the important matters in our world.

Such as ...

"Oh my God, like, that lip gloss you're wearing, like, it's just totally the most fabulous thing. That, like, colour, man it's fully amazing. You really, like, know how to pick the best quality make up. Is it from Groove? They so have the best stuff."

And ...

"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!!! Turn it up, turn the radio up! This is like the best song eva. Like eva. I love this song. I love this song. This is so my favourite song. I am so downloading this from iTunes when I get paid."

Then ...

"You know Angelique, right, well, you know that guy from Terrace that she likes from the train, right, well, oh my God, but she like so went to second with him."

Teenagers can be very nice; but they recover quickly.

If you've got one, you'll know exactly what I mean. If you've had one, please accept my sympathy and commiserations. If you're grooming one, be prepared. Like, oh my God, be just totally prepared, k!


  1. Tell me about it! I picked up an 18 year old daughter after she'd been doing green jelly shots (18th where the mother was a confirmed alcoholic - I should have known better)- dropped her and a friend at Dicey Rileys - just got home - got the phone call to come back (with a bucket) and prise her off the floor of the Ladies where she was holding tight to the toilet bowl...memories...

  2. Green jelly shots? That's something else!