A bit of half term teenage drama

The snoring is back, but softer, less guttural, less like choking, though still quite loud and regular with just enough of a reverberation through the pillow to reach around my silicon earplugs and land into my perfectly good ear holes. So I’ve been hot footing it to the couch in the living room, but we have a gecko tank there and they have a blue light permanently on which shines through my scratchy angry eyelids. It’s a bit like a silent funky disco in this makeshift bedroom, complete with dog who goes nuts at 3am when the neighbourhood fox comes down to laugh at him through the window.

Let’s just say that none of this is ideal, and that very soon it will have to be Mark who has to share the living room with the dog, fox and geckos if he doesn’t learn to breathe quietly out through his mouth like normal people – rather than the very pregnant me who is getting less kind, less nimble and less forgiving by the day.

So it’s not just the sleeping arrangements that feels a bit unnecessarily stressful right now in our two bedroomed flat. It’s also the fact that the children are turning into massive young men, all greasy hair and long legs, adam’s apples and surprising arm muscles (they do no exercise – surely they can’t have formed biceps from the strain of carrying phones/sticks/blue tac blobs everywhere with them?). And because they fight over everything, all the time, from 6:31am onwards, over where they sit and who has the longest tie and how many mini wheats they get and how much milk the other brother got and over the preferred cutlery/last non-mouldy piece of Vogel toast/last available pencil that doesn’t have lead breakages caused by gleeful repeated throwing of it onto the hard tiled floor etc etc and because Casper and Ned both go from room to room wailing over their lost school jumpers and too-small trousers and missing reading books, well, the flat has probably, finally, become too small for a family of seven + new baby soon + dog + geckos and hoarded brass marine instruments and a job lot of 80’s cassette tapes rescued from a bin.

Sometimes – nay, oftentimes – the fights escalate into punches and hair pulling and leaping over furniture to deliver a blow. Early this week, another bloody half term week, the eldest and the 8 year old had a little fight over squeezing past each other. One wouldn’t tuck his chair in, the other exaggeratedly squeezed past but sort-of rubbed himself all over the 8 year old who got blinded by a fit of rage and threw a Halloween skeleton decoration at his biggest brother who flew over the dining room table to go and  get him back, but he knocked over a whole bottle of green milk in the process and I went completely and utterly batshit in response. Screamy and crying and sweaty and I whacked him around the shoulders like a lady possessed and then he went nuts and we were all crying and he got sent to his room after cleaning up the milk and later, I made him go buy some more green milk  – because, consequences! – but I added a request for a bottle of blue milk as we were out. He said no – he would only buy the green, not the blue, just to spite me – so I took away his phone, the playstation, his headphones, and inadvertently ruined the tv reception for days.

We all went out later – I took them to see the Royal Academy’s Oceania exhibition like a good mother who really needs to be finishing her work project but instead she shelves her plans to help her children become well-rounded and culturally engaged citizens of the world, etc etc –  my eyes pink from the crying, eldest wrapped up in a hoodie, still crying and lagging half a block behind, the other boys traumatised into a well-behaved silent cavalcade, and we came across a friend of mine (and mother of a teenage girl) on her way to work. She took one look at us, said she knew exactly what must have gone on and showed me nasty red scratches down her neck from her daughter who had, just that morning, attacked her and called her a whore. I felt a little better that our morning hadn’t spilled over into drawn blood and vicious name-calling, although I remain convinced we have raised appalling, entitled brats who need to get a part time job and feel a little pain and who need to learn empathy and discomfort and to turn their focus from themselves and their perceived needs onto kindness towards other people. And who could pick up a dirty pair of their discarded socks every now and then, ya know?

I think we have to move, and it’ll probably be back to Oceania. We’ve found a house – if we get it, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, I am compulsively researching mid-century modern furniture like a new-convert bore.

Here’s me in full tight vintage dress mode, a month ago. I’m even fatter now:


My birthday, when I turned 41, with my snoring husband:


An interactive birthday card made by Ned for me. A work of utter genius:

One of the less violent London days of the half term break, which included pork rolls and donuts from Borough Market and a bit of the Tate:


See, it’s not all bad. But think of the hormonal domino effect as each kid turns teenage and vicious, one after the other, slowly destroying the furniture and my mental health. I should have thought about this when it was all endless baby making fun – but you don’t, do you? Clearly we didn’t.

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21 Responses to A bit of half term teenage drama

  1. Anne Thomas says:

    Wait! What? Back to NZ?

    • theharridan says:

      Yes! Apparently we are both of the same mind and don’t hate each other anymore because of it…weird turn of events, but I can finally see the point of some space and NO MORTGAGE!

  2. Do says:

    You can only go if you PROMISE to keep writing this blog. I love to hear all your family tales; this can continue from NZ, right? Or better, still move to Edinburgh and we can meet for cocktails!

  3. theharridan says:

    I do promise, though I think my scope of cool stuff to go on about might be limited a little. But I promise! PS I like the idea of cocktails – I’ll let you know if I even get to Edinburgh again

  4. Elliesee says:

    You are such a pretty pregnant lady that now I understand why you want a sixth baby. My oldest is such a lovely teen, I doubt we get so lucky with the three youngest. I hope that space, good neighbors and responsibilities do wonder for your teens!

  5. We have one-fifth of your quota of small and not-so-small boys in a two-bed apartment (no geckos… yet but it’s been threatened) and so I seriously don’t know how you do it.
    Moving back to NZ and giving them a field each to roam around in seems like a brilliant plan. Plus if they whine too much you can win every argument with a well-timed ‘Look, we could have stayed in London but you had to kick off whenever a brother walked past you.’
    Good luck and look forward to hearing of your continued adventures…

  6. theharridan says:

    I REALLY love that idea – it is their fault, actually. If they could show a little bit of restraint, we could stay here and keep bobbing around the city, getting educated for free, getting braces for free, etc – but NO, YOU HAD TO GO AND MAKE A FUSS ABOUT TABLE TO CHAIR TO BROTHER RATIOS.

  7. Polly says:

    Hi Jodi, I’ve never commented before, but always love your posts. I have no idea how you: a) Hang on to your sanity (I only have 2 boys who were born 15 months apart and I’ve maxed out on the chaos, fighting, refereeing, ferrying, not to mention cleaning/cooking/washing). b) Look so fresh faced and amazing with 6 boys SIX BOYS and a baby on the way… and c) Maintain your own interests (fashion etc) AND hold down a job. Oh and live in a 2 bedroom flat as well. I am in total awe. Really, I am x

    • theharridan says:

      Thanks – that is both very kind and very cheering! I sometimes have to cry a bit, and I have figured out that I am better when I take off on the weekends by myself for a few hours (with or without an accompanying dog/boy) instead of being ground down by the mess and the testosterone of everyone else lounging around in their own sweat. I also am blessed with a personality that isn’t very bothered about untidiness, so we just do a cursory clean up and wait for the weekly cleaner to sort out all our stuff. And so far there are only five boys, so I will have six in total – am very determined that there shall be no more babies ever again! (Although, let’s see what emotional broody guff I start spotting once the baby exits and the oxytocin kicks in…)

  8. Polly says:

    Sorry – five boys! Mine are now 11 and 12 so I’m bracing myself for a hormonal tornado, since I’m sure the menopause will decide to arrive at the same time and we can all compete to out-strop each other. Good luck with the baby – when’re you due? x

    • theharridan says:

      Oh man – it’s going to be HORRIBLE! Unless your kids are nice, in which case maybe less so. Due Jan 22 – around the time of a big project and an issue of the quarterly magazine I work on. I’ll need all the luck.

  9. Sally says:

    I hear you when you speak of long limbs and smelly boys! You don’t realise when they are young and little how much space they take up in later years. My kitchen used to be big enough but now – no way – breakfast has become all elbows and backsides in the way. A word from the wise-ish…don’t get in the middle of the fighting to try to break it up. I move away and let them go for it now, there’s no way I can physically remove anyone these days. If they hurt themselves too bad and they’ll have to pay for any damage! So looking forward to having you and the crew in our neck of the woods and a baby to get my fix!! 😍

  10. theharridan says:

    I agree – I think those fights are something quite deeply biological and mostly I leave them to it – but my hormones have made me a bit mental. And YES they can pay! Genius.

  11. rose says:

    North or South Island? When will move be? Post baby I hope though moving a containerized baby is easier I admit. I shall hate you being not in England but shall love hearing about NZ and the changes in store for all of you. YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL PREGNANT AND ALSO WHEN NOT PREGNANT. Please write more frequently not lessl And keep having a positive pregnancy, we are all so excited for you and thrilled for us who get to think of you again with a brand new baby!!!! SO MUCH JOY FOR YOU.
    PS: The young men in your home will keep growing and will become the most awesome loving wonderful men ever in your life.
    PPS: Sending so much support to you and thank yous for the change of pace and confrontation with reality over the past two years. Please write again soon.

  12. theharridan says:

    Well, thank you very much! It will be the North Island, in the city where we both grew up – provided our house gets sold in time so we can buy the other one we want. Very stressful but also all very lovely and fun and exciting. I cannot think too much about leaving here though – it’s too horrible. It won’t be for about another year in any case, so I shall still be writing about food markets and sample sales and annoying teens and London delights for a while yet. xx

    • rose says:

      Have never been S.Island but loved North one. Shall enjoy your continued time in London and look forward to the new location and all the adjustments and changes. VERY curious how you manage buying a new home without actually really seeing and walking in it. Is it a house you knew before? Do you have a trusted person pick it out? Did you do video tours and then … well. Please share the process….. in case you are not writing for lack of topics. What will make it take a year from now to move time if house is now located? Isn’t the real estate market in London totally burning hot so your home will sell almost at once?
      Lots of questions but NO obligation for you to answer any of them.
      Hurrahs for you; you are wonderful!

  13. Clare says:

    Just to say “here here” to the other commenters! Exciting news about your move, yes it sounds stressful but it’ll all work out in the end, and you look great in that dress, hope you bought it!
    Like others have said, don’t know how you manage it all, but hope you can find time to keep up the blog, always happy when I see a new post xx

  14. theharridan says:

    Thanks! The dress was a little tight – er, everywhere – so I went for an enormous polyester tent instead. I shall try to write more – I just need to finish all the unending work I am doing on lawyers – I miss the old days when I didn’t have to care about Fortune 1000 stats. argh

  15. Jackie Boucher says:

    i love how you always turn your stressful stories into funnies for us. NZ is great just sayin.

  16. Jen says:

    You look great! Super happy for you. Hmm, maybe I can get you and family to stop in the USA on your way to NZ…

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