As a spectator sport, puberty is hard to beat. I mean that in the most normal way possible. My son is always up to something secretive and when I get back from work there is always a puzzle to solve.
Here are a few of his puberty puzzles.
The Bedroom iPad mystery.
Last week I walked into his bedroom unannounced, which is something you should never do. You must always make tweenagers aware that you are coming; knock, whistle, wear cymbals on your knees…anything. But I didn’t. I walked in and caught him, and three of his mates, all hunched over the ipad watching, Murder She Wrote.
I didn’t know this at the time, but it seems that huge doses of testosterone make tweenagers lust after granny detectives. Of course, this may have been a smokescreen. He could have easily clicked from Brit Babes to Cabot Cove before I even noticed. I did the same sort of thing when I was pubing. I remember disguising my porn videos by writing, The Sky at Night down the spine. It was an effective ruse, and every year my uncle still buys me an astronomy book for Christmas.
What is, Stagging?
Stagging is the technical name for a family coup. Where the young buck attempts to dethrone the dominant male. Each night before I sit down for tea, I have to uncover his latest attempt to finish me off before we can start pudding. To be honest, I don’t mind if he takes over and drives the submarine for a bit. Sitting on the back seat and gawping out the window would suit me fine.
There are two forms of Stagging:
1. Physical attacks disguised as play fighting.
Just when you’re feeling nice and relaxed, your pubing child will take you out with a rugby tackle and grind your face into the dirt. So be prepared. I have taken to wearing one of those padded bite suits they use to train police dogs. The bite suit manufacturers have cottoned on to this now and have produced a skinny leg version for Hipster dads.
2. Issuing death threats under the bathroom door.
In my youth I used to squat in a derelict block of flats in Hulme, Manchester that were about to be demolished. During the day I worked for free as an intern copywriter at an advertising agency called, Stowe, Bowden & Wilson. It was a crazy time and I used to get a full body wash in the toilets before breezing into the boardroom and pitching ideas to clients.
Like Cinderella, I had to leave work early before it got dark because that’s when all the muggers congregated near the squat. The flats were built on concrete pillars and the muggers would slowly weave in and out of the pillars on BMX bikes scouting for victims. I had to try and run past them to get home unscathed. It was like doing the gold run on Blockbusters but without the chance of winning a kayaking weekend for two in the Lakes.
This fear, this blind panic of weaving in and out of concrete pillars with three muggers on bikes chasing after me, is the same feeling I get when I am alone in the house with my tweenage son. Especially if I go in the bath and he’s pinballing around the house getting frustrated by internet blackouts.
I was in the bath last week and I swear I heard him whisper under the door: “You must be erased.” To make it sound even more chilling, he did it in a camp voice.
I have since learned that the noise I heard in the bathroom was not my son threatening me, it was in fact a slow release of spray coming out of the shower head, making a sort of, shuwmistbeeherazed, noise. I know this because it happened again when my son was out and only my wife was in.