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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Dear Me,

This is a letter I wrote to myself in the future - in about ten years time, when my boys will be 16 and 14. It was inspired by threads on Mumsnet about teenagers, and how horribly unloveable they can be.

Dear MMM,

I’m writing this letter to you now, because I’m worried that when the boys are teenagers, and they’ve been insulting you or ignoring you all day, you won’t be able to remember these things. So when the eldest has slammed his bedroom door shut for the umpteenth time, or comes home stoned, or leaves a pile of crap in the kitchen for you to wash up, or ALL of the above, read this letter.

When you were 13, you used to go up the woods with a packet of B&H, a lighter, and a can of Charlie red. You lied and sneaked, and thought you were really clever to get away with it.

When you were 16, before you moved out, you once tidied your room by piling a load of stuff into the corner, and putting a blanket over it. You thought that was acceptable.

When you were 15, you stayed out till 3am regularly, without telling your parents where you were, and you didn’t understand why they were so cross. Now, you should know that that anger was really fear.

Just before your sixteenth birthday, you asked your Mum if you could stay at your much older boyfriend’s house, all the while knowing that even if she said no (which she of course did, and rightly so you little tart) you would find a way to stay out even if it meant lying about it.

You did stupid things, like putting tippex on your fingernails and lighting it, and playing about with candles ALL THE TIME, with that incredible arrogant belief that all teenagers have: That bad things happen to other people.

You always stole fags, and you only felt mildly bad about it: Not nearly as bad as you do now.

You never did your own ironing or washing until you left home. And, yeah, Mum hated you touching the kitchen and would have moaned about anything you cooked, but you still should have tried.

You thought you were cleverer than Mum, and you looked down on her because you knew you could argue better than she could. You bragged to your friends that you were more logical than she was. You were a supercilious shit quite regularly.

You lied. All. The. Bloody. Time.

When you argued with Mum or Dad, you went up the woods and cried and felt so terrible about it. Because fighting with the people you love the most is horrible.

Is eldest still in his room? I wonder how he’s feeling.

You should also remember that Mum and Dad weren’t perfect or always right (even though they wanted you to think they were), and that sometimes, all you wanted them to do was admit they might be wrong.

Or you just wanted them to just leave you be, until you came to them.

Or you wanted them to look at you, and see the adult you thought you had become.

I hope these memories help you remember that yes, you really WERE as bad as they are now.

I hope they help you to be patient, and more than anything, I hope that they make you laugh, and stop you from crying in frustration and feeling like you’ve failed the kids.

You haven’t failed them, they’re just figuring out who they are, like you had to. And you didn’t turn out so bad.

(Unless you're reading this in a prison somewhere. Then maybe you did).

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