OUR eldest turned into a teenager this week.
Thankfully, it wasn’t like the classic Harry Enfield Kevin the Teenager sketch – you know, the one where the cute 12-year-old goes to bed in his PJs all smiles and innocence, only to thunder down the stairs bursting with angst and bile the following day as a sour-faced, hoodie-sporting 13-year-old.
No, our Bradley has been thundering down the stairs with hostile intent since he was 10. Hey, why wait until you’re 13 to rail against the world?
Obviously, modern parents need to handle sensitive teenagers with as much care and intelligent thought as they can muster.
But, then again, have you seen how much it costs to hire these modern parents? £30 an hour! Stuff that. We’ll do it ourselves.
Shouting. That’s the answer. And we’re winning. 10-6. Four ahead before lunchtime. Not bad for a morning’s work.
Punishments, of course, work well. But they have to be realistic and workable in order to be truly effective.
With our Bradley, I think he’s got it just right. He has punished us with tears, tantrums and sad-eyed pleadings to get his way for years now. Fair play to the lad.
I just wish we could come up with some suitable punishments to get our way on occasions (will they ever relax the rules on thumbscrews? Honestly, I’m beginning to think the Home Secretary doesn’t even read my letters).
Now that our boy has become a teenager, he has found himself under increasing pressure to smoke and drink.
I appreciate, it’s a difficult time for teenagers. They want to develop their own sense of self and individuality. They want to grow up fast, and grown-ups drink and smoke.
Resisting that pressure to drink shows strength of character. And so far, our Bradley has resisted. “Go on, get the pints in,” I tell him. “Your shout.”
“No dad, I’m too young,” he says. Good on him.
It was heartening then to see that the Government is helping teenagers resist the temptations by rethinking their policy on cigarette packaging.
Number 10 (not to be confused with Embassy Number 1 or Players Number 6) is considering packaging all cigarettes in a uniform box. Dark olive green has been suggested. Good call – no one likes olives.
The policy makes sense. Plain packaging worked for alcohol. Since pubs in the 1980s began serving beer and lager in plain transparent glass receptacles, alcohol consumption has dropped dramatically.
If you remember, in the 1960s and 1970s, beer was served up in brightly-coloured drinking steins with ornate pewter lids.
The kids just loved ’em.
Same for cigarettes, though, to be honest I’m not totally convinced that fag packaging is particularly attractive to children.
It’s not as if cigs are sold in bright pink dayglo pouches trimmed with sequins, is it? If you want to discourage smoking, a more effective policy would be to sell cigarettes in four inch thick, 300lb concrete blocks.
Would selling iPhones and PlayStations in plain packaging discourage children from wanting them? Worth a shot. But then again, teenagers need PlayStations and iPhones. No, they really NEED them. And they NEED them now.
I know, my son has been telling me this over and over again for months now. Forget the price, they’re needed. And who, so his well-reasoned discourse goes, are we thick parents to argue?
We don’t know much, but we know how important it is to laugh.
Which is why a poster I spotted online went straight to the top of my Christmas list. It features a photo of a gang of sullen-faced youths above these words:
“Teenagers, tired of being harassed by your stupid parents? Act now! Move out … get a job … pay your own bills. And do it now, while you still know everything.”
I can think of a teenager’s bedroom door I can hang it on to.