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Ok. I should start by saying that I lied. There is no foolproof guide to teenagers and I led you to my blog under false pretences, but don’t rush off.... join me and we can bang our heads against the wall together!
It’s been a week full of challenges that I’m certain I’m not facing alone; 1), it’s the Easter school holidays and 2) GCSE exams start in a month’s time and revision is looming high on the agenda. Well, it should be! Either of those two points will bring most parents out in hives unless you are like my Domestic/Earth Mother/Goddess new next door neighbour who has no doubt made her own organic chocolate bunnies and planned 10 consecutive days of art, crafts and donut making for her 8 year old. I had no idea that when I moved in to our lovely house with a lovely kitchen that I would be forced to live next to a lovely lady who’s undoubtedly the most perfectly lovely person I’ve ever met! My feelings of inadequacy will be explored in a later blog I think!
I’m feeling the teenage pain this week and encouraging M to revise is proving to be a mega challenge. She is happy talking about it, planning it, writing revise timetables, colouring them in and pinning them neatly on her wall, ordering 40 different types of notebooks, dividers and folders from eBay to make the ‘revision desk’ look better, but actual revising is eluding her. It’s the Easter the Easter break and I am definitely feeling the strain.
M was sunbathing on the patio last week and as she had led me through her revision plans, I let her sunbath in peace for a while with only reminders about sunscreen when I popped out to hang out laundry or to dead head a few daffodils. I could understand her reluctance to be inside when the sun was shining properly for the first time this year and suggested she bring out some of her revision guides to look through. Oh my.... tempers flew, phones were slammed down and the back door slamming could be felt 3 doors along. However, it was all over in half an hour as no matter how mad M gets, she basically has a sweet nature and can’t hold a grudge. She did eventually revise and I heaped praise on her which went down a treat.
I know I am not alone and GCSE stress is being felt by care givers everywhere, but in spite of M’s reluctance to revise, I know she is feeling the pressure to do well. No pressure has been put on her by us as we’ve always told her that we are very proud of her and that doing her best will be the real success. However, society doesn’t measure you by how hard you tried, unless you are Eddie the Eagle, and the stress M is feeling is of her own making. She has told everyone how well she is going to do and is aiming for A’s. Recently she has said she would be happy with B’s as this is what she needs to get into the 6th Form College she and her friend Claire have chosen.
Last week, M came home with a revision timetable provided by school which made me laugh out loud. It started with waking up at 7am... Really? Have they ever actually met a teenager? M and I mashed it around and we agreed on a later start as I knew I could get the best of her if she was part of the planning and also, she’s not at her best with early starts. The first week was difficult to begin with as no matter how much you prep them for revision during a school holiday, the only word they hear is ‘holiday’. Each day got a little better as M was beginning to benefit from knowing what to expect. Routine is the key word with M. The more routine anything is, the happier and more secure she feels. We’re into the second week of revision and we are both a bit sick of it. Motivating her is getting harder and I’ve promised a trip to Top Shop if she gets 4 solid hours in today. You might think this is bribery and I’m not denying it, but my solution to many teenage problems is: Whatever works!
I have cajoled, set clear boundaries, been sympathetic, looked stern, provided tea and biscuits, favourite meals and rewards. There is no set formula for a foolproof guide to parenting teenagers but a combination of every trick up your sleeve. Add in GCSE’s, an Instagram crisis or a boyfriend trauma and the rule books go out the window. There’s a long way to go until mid June when the last exam is taken and I know I’ll be digging deep into my bag of tricks, but I think the most important one is reminding M on a daily basis, even in little ways, that she is loved and that won’t change, no matter what her results.