On Growing Up.

“I wonder where the tooth fairy keeps all my teeth…” she said in a leading way and with a sly sideways look in my direction.

Rose’s last wobbly tooth came out yesterday. A momentous occasion given that it marks the end of a five-year correspondence with the Tooth Fairy, each tiny precious parcel of pearly enamel accompanied under the pillow by an inquisitive and obsequious little letter addressed to Twinkle. Occasionally, fraught with work pressures or just plain exhausted forgetfulness, Twinkle failed to collect the parcel. With evident disappointment Rose would optimistically relocate it to a more accessible corner of under the pillow and wait. The missives that passed between them were sometimes lengthy and always involved detailed Q&A regarding fairyland and fairy ways. Twinkle’s microscopic copper plate handwriting was sometimes almost illegible due to the lateness of the hour at which it was written and I suspect that occasionally she liked a little drink of an evening, so vivid and farfetched were her descriptions of home life.

As we climbed the stairs to bed last night I reminded Rose to take her tooth with her but she explained that there hadn’t been time to write a letter, and so today she will sit down at some point and compose a final farewell message to her friend the tooth fairy. I get the feeling that Twinkle will need her reading glasses and a box of tissues handy.

I’ve been rather preoccupied lately with the notion of me growing up, or rather, growing old, and I guess it makes sense that, perhaps as a reward for finally giving in to the ravages of time, (but importantly, remaining helplessly immature) I should enjoy the spectacle of my offspring as they pass into significant new phases in life. The four-year gap between them tightens as they face the prospect of being at the same secondary school in September. Their friendship has evolved; screaming thumping rows are increasingly exchanged for hanging out in each other’s rooms, sharing music and confidences. This gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, and in my morbid moments (which occur more frequently as part of this ageing mullarkey) I feel content in the knowledge that, should the angels (or demons) carry me off now, my children have each other.

With a bit of luck I have plenty of years left to pass on my wisdom (nag) and teach them the importance of a tidy bedroom (bark orders and harangue), which brings me to the hotly debated issue of today’s teenager and their apparent requirement for a double bed. The paper-thin walls between his room and ours has somewhat put a dampener on romantic shenanigans, should we even contemplate such unlikely activity. I lie in bed sometimes wondering about the curious late-night shuffling and bumping on the other side of the wall. The enforcement of a strict no-screens-in-bedrooms-after-19.30h policy goes a little way to reassure me that nothing too unsavoury is going on, but this new insistence that all his friends have double beds has thrown up a nauseating vision of the future, and I have already begun researching soundproofing materials. Poor child, at fourteen it’s not easy being a strapping 6’3” particularly when your mum keeps you in a standard 190cm long single bed. So we’ve reached a compromise, settling on a continental small double which arrives tomorrow, and with it I am hoping, the dawn of stylish, grown up, responsible living. The storage boxes of Lego under the bed are no more, the tins of Pokemon cards, piles of Nerf guns (and their bastarding bullets) and the multitudinous crates and cartons of treasured little toys and widgets gathering dust are banished to the attic where they can gather cobwebs and guano instead, to be dealt with thirty years from hence. It is time to transform the boy’s bedroom into a tranquil refuge of quiet study and meditation, of restful, minimalist, mindful living…

Pah-Ha Haa! Yes, I know how insane I sound, but I do like to daydream. In reality I know that, even after we paint the walls and erect the cool shelving modules to compliment his new bed, the thumping baseline of grime and nonsensical babble of Youtube will prevail, as will the seething avalanche of clothes and the teetering piles of sticky crockery, but I bought him a potted peace lily and hopefully Weed and Ziggy the budgerigars won’t eat it before it absorbs all the noxious chi.

I console myself in the knowledge that I too was once a wanton teenage slattern, bringing despair and misery for my neat-freak parents with my slovenly ways, but I turned out all right…Also, I still believe in fairies.

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