That time when you transition from parent to bank with your teenagers.
The thing about teenagers is that their brains are still not fully developed and they can act impulsively.
So the minute you diss them or flip your lid at them or do something parentally-incorrect (like tell all three of your readers about their shocking eating habits here), be prepared for them to be vengeful like NC was, by calmly informing me via Viber this week that her life was in serious danger.
Oh yes, NC certainly got her monies worth of mother’s guilt this week.
She obviously read my post about her fussy eating and came up with ways to exact her revenge in the most mentally disfiguring way she could find. She knows my Achilles Heel which is anxiety, of course, and in particular the irrational fear I have in relation to the safety of my children; a fear she has compounded recently by eating and drinking her way through a country that was devastated by a Tsunami only a few years ago and is currently in the middle of political turmoil.
I’ve got to give it to her, though – she’s good.
Her revenge was no doubt sweet. For after originally pooh poohing my concerns about the political instability in Thailand, she decided during her third week away that I might actually be right and that her flight from Bangkok to Australia on that country’s election day (with associated threats of coups, closed air space and no doubt tourists being raped, hung, drawn and quartered as examples) may be ill-timed.
Her bad timing persisted when she then narrowly missed dying (or serious dehydration) from a nasty bout of food poisoning within the same 72 hours.
Which meant that this week the old man and I were promoted from simple ‘parents’ to ‘the bank’ in our teenager’s eyes. Actually, that’s not strictly true as Kurt had already approved our promotion via his request for a new laptop, (the new one he received for Christmas having already been so mutilated by an errant glass of water that even the genii at Apple could not bring it back to life).
So once the Parent Bank had rescued NC from her first predicament by funding a new flight that leaves Thailand a few days earlier than the election, so that she can a) remain horizontal on untouched tropical island beaches and fly safely from Phuket in complete luxury and at our expense and b) see NB three days sooner than originally planned, she then decided that I still hadn’t suffered enough, went out and celebrated on some dodgy fish dish and promptly contracted a nasty case of food poisoning.
There is no doubt in my mind that Thai food is now permanently off our already limited menu.
I, in the meantime, was left feeling helpless on the North Shore, putting two and two together and making eight, and unable to shake off the horrific story of the mother and daughter in Bali from my mind. In truth, I was freaking my fucking shit – especially as the old man is not here for me to shout at or blame.
(And NC knows I’m on a diet and therefore not feeling my most fabulous self).
But we all know that everything’s fine on holiday until someone gets diarrhoea.
So this child of the old man’s ours, who remember is theoretically an adult, (when she wants to be independent), is throwing up and pooing all over some ghastly hostel on Koh Tao and about to lose her bed to some other Full Moon Party Animal who will need somewhere to crash and vom too.
So what do you do as a parent? Teach them a lesson and let them find their own solution, or do you reach for the credit card?
Obviously, I know my daughter and she is not a good patient. She tends to get REALLY sick when other people are just sick and she gets the flu when she has a cold – in other words, she suffers from Man Flu a lot, or as the old man likes to describe it, she attracts a more virulent strain of illness than anyone else.
So I suspected that even if this was just a mild case of food poisoning, the poor kid was over there feeling alone and like shit and she probably hadn’t even had the energy to put her makeup on, (and was most likely thinking that she was about to die and cursing herself for not writing a will that left her rock collection to someone who will enjoy it like NB; rather than Kurt who will probably find some way of burning and smoking it).
Because that’s what parents become when kids reach their late teens and are taking their first cautious flights out of the nest – BANKS AND THERAPISTS.
We become the John McClanes and Sean Maguires of our teenager’s universe. And we are happy to do it for a while if it will prolong the relationship of them still needing us.
‘Is she staying at The Hilton?’ was the old man’s only comment when he called me to ask what the latest transaction to Thailand was for.
The Parent Bank has offered an exemplary service this week and I must surely have earned some belated parenting reward points. Imagine this, at one point I even caught myself trying to sympathize with NC on Facebook, but she and I both know that I’m not good at tea and sympathy and my words didn’t sound even vaguely authentic so I stopped before it got really awkward.
She’ll hate me for saying this, (I love you, babe) but in my day we didn’t have mobile phones or social media when we went travelling to fall back on when things got a little seedy. We slept in our vom-soiled sheets, we weed in bottles and the hair-of-the-dog was our cure for everything, because we had no choice.
But to be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve felt needed by NC. So if a bank transfer is what she needs to know I care, so be it.
And I’m not suggesting it’s a competition, but I wonder how NB proved his love.