When you try to be a modern, understanding mother…
“No, Zoe, I’ve never heard of it.”
My daughter often surprises me – not always in a good way – and once again I find I have no idea what she is talking about.
“Really,” I say.
She gives a small shrug then. “Strange.”
“Has it just been invented?” I ask, trying my best to concentrate while sorting out the dishwasher.
Zoe sighs. “Are you serious, Mum? Are you really saying you’ve never heard of National Teenager Day?”
When I don’t reply, she adds, “The twenty-first of March – every year.”
“I’ve never heard of it. And I was a teenager long before you were.”
“Google it.” That’s Zoe’s answer to everything.
“Look, I don’t dispute it love, I’m just saying it’s a new one on me.” I slam the dishwasher door shut. “I hope you’re not expecting cards and presents.”
“Of course not.”
“Just a party.”
I straighten up and look into my fifteen-year-old daughter’s face.
It’s fresh and pretty today. She hasn’t had time to plaster eyeliner all over herself or straighten her natural wavy hair into a long straight curtain.
She smiles, her newly pencilled eyebrows slightly raised.
“What do you say?”
“Well, for one thing the date’s already gone –”
“I know, but everyone had something on that week, and anyway, it doesn’t matter really when you celebrate, does it?”
I don’t want to give her a flat refusal. After all, I try to be a modern, understanding mother – most of the time.
But the thought of hordes of teenagers crammed into my small lounge diner is pushing it.
“Have some friends over for a takeaway.” I suggest. “You could watch a movie –”
“Since when do you say ‘movie’?”
“All right, film then. Whatever.” I’m sounding like a teenager myself.
“How many friends? Twenty?” she asks hopefully.
“I was thinking more of two or three.”
“That’s not much of a party.”
“I’m not thinking of it being a party, Zoe. Just a small celebration of this National Teen Day, whatever you call it.”
“National Teenager Day. A day for giving thanks for all the teenagers in the world.”
“What exactly am I thanking you for?”
“All the happiness I’ve given you over the years,” she says confidently. “I have, haven’t I?”
“Well yes, but…” A sudden thought comes into my head. “Why here, anyway? Why isn’t anyone else hosting this party? Gemma’s got a huge house.”
“Gemma’s mum won’t even let her have a sleepover! Anyway, my friends think you’re cool. They know you won’t mind if they all come round here.”
“They all think I’m so lucky to have a mum like you.” She smiles at me, flicking wavy blonde strands of hair from her face. “They all think you’re great.”
“Do they? Well that’s nice.”
I’m ridiculously pleased at being told I’m liked by Zoe’s friends.
“I like them too.” I add, which I do, mostly anyway. “It’s just that our lounge is not that big and it would be a terrible squash.”
“Oh, they won’t mind that. We only want a few crisps and bits – some pizzas maybe. Yeah, that would be good. We could always order them in to save using the kitchen.”
“Well, surely I’d be in the kitchen.”
“Mum, you’ll have to go out, obviously. I’d phone you when everyone’s gone.”
She looks at me expectantly. “Is that OK, then? Can I tell my friends it’s OK?”
She’s really smiling now. “Yes?”
“How many did you say?”
“Mmm – twenty or so. Might be more if Jake and his mates decide to come.”
Boys. I hadn’t thought about boys. Of course a fifteen-year-old expects to have boys at a party.
I take a deep breath. What can happen after all? Zoe’s a good girl and apparently I’m cool and we all supposedly like each other.
“Well, all right,” I say, nodding slowly.
“Really?” Zoe throws her arms around my neck and gives me a squeeze. “Mum you’re the best!”
“It will have to finish at midnight though, and make sure they take their shoes off.” My mind is racing trying to ensure I cover all necessities. “I’ll go out, but only next door – in case you need me.”
Zoe’s smile is even broader now.
“What?” I repeat, at a loss once again to understanding my own daughter.
“Check the date, Mum!” she says, sweeping out of the kitchen and slamming the door, narrowly missing decapitating the dog.
I turn, glance at the wall calendar behind me, and exhale the breath I didn’t realise I was holding… April the first.
“Zoe!” I yell after her, “I’ll get you back for this!”
I hear her laugh before the entire house is filled with Little Mix.