The workings of the mind of a seventeen-year-old adolescent are hard to fathom. Oliver is usually commandeered by his “boy” in his every day modus operandi: his speech, his eating habits, his time-keeping, his reasoning, hence his arguing. Just occasionally we get a glimpse of the man to come, and it is a sight to behold and one we cling to as a life raft in a sea of spoiled children surrounding a land of instant gratification and expectancy.
Our first three years together—before Sophie-G came along and enchanted everyone with her golden-haired beauty—will always remain my best. Intense first child moments alongside the frustration, loneliness, and overwhelming burden of responsibility that underwrote this new chapter in my life. I remember the joy I felt when he pronounced his first word; aqua (we had a Portuguese cleaning woman) then hallelujah, apple. I also remember the sleepless, exhausting nights, and wanting to throw him out the window.
And little has changed, although too big to manhandle now I still get the same occasional urge. For his part, he recalls in vivid Technicolor and rather too loudly for my comfort, when I locked him in the cellar, albeit briefly.
Over dinner recently he declared that he would no longer be using his alarm clock in the mornings.
“You’ll have to come and wake me up,” he grunted between mouthfuls.
“Oh really,” I said amused rather than curious. “Why is that?”
“Cos it’s something to do with being really bad for the mind waking up like that … they’ve done loads of research … it’s on the internet.”
Of course I had every intention of letting him oversleep but lying in bed that night with the stories of the seven teenage suicides in Bridgend, England fresh in my mind. I thought that maybe in his adolescent clumsiness he was trying to tell me something else. He lives on the top floor of our house with the empty guest room and his dad’s office for company, far away from his younger sisters and parents. He has a TV (bought with his own money) and a computer. Apart from meal times, we don’t see much of him thinking that this is what adolescent males need, isolation.
I went up the next morning and woke him up. I didn’t think any more of it until later that day his six-foot frame squeezed into the passenger seat of my mini.
“Ahhh that was great mum, you know, this morning,” Yawn, large stretch backwards “it felt like an angel waking me up.”
For all the posturing, for all the fights about drinking, the unwillingness to take responsibility, the table manners, time-keeping and getting to bed he still has the feelings and the needs of a boy and I luckily, listened.