Ok, so you’ve got them into good schools, made them work for their exams, they’re growing well, they have reasonable table manners (well when they’re at tea in houses other than your own they apparently do), the last parent’s evening was relatively trouble free and no one is stashing class A drugs in the sock drawer, at least not the last time you looked, so what’s to worry about now? Are we at the end? No we are not, Now we have to worry about teenagers, sex and when it’s ok to let the visiting girlfriend (or boyfriend) sleep in the same bed.
Eldest teenage son and middle teenage son frequently have guests to stay overnight, and they are often girls, but they always stay in the spare room, or at least they did until recently. Middle teenageson was out very late at a party with his girlfriend last week and when they both came back in the wee small hours, they crashed fully clothed, in one bed.
Since they had asked me to get them up the next morning early as they had a train to catch, I believed that they really were just convenience-crashing in one bed but the seeds of doubt and panic were sown. Putting my head in the sand and going to bed pathetically early so as to avoid any knowledge of what was going on (my preferred option) was no longer a possibility.
I sought help from wise friends. My friend Rachel has had condoms sitting next to the Weetabix packets in the kitchen cupboard ever since her three were in primary school. Due to her sister becoming pregnant while still at school and being blessed with an almost un embarrassable disposition, her position on sex education has always been ahead of its time. Her kids learnt young about STDs, unwanted pregnancy and how to avoid both, as did my eldest, who is her eldest’s best friend (she frequently asked, guests included, if anyone wanted to ask any questions on sex as they all tucked into after-school sausage and mash suppers).
Another friend, who has possibly the most handsome son in London, categorically will not tolerate any suggestion of sex in the house. My most successful friend, who must surely be good at taking the right decisions since she is so successful, takes early morning tea to her eldest son’s girlfriend if she stays overnight and is sanely relaxed about it, although admits her work colleagues (mostly the men) find the morning tea delivery a service too far.
While researching the subject, my experienced-friend-with-four (her youngest daughter is a 16 year old beauty) shot an email of panic across saying she though her youngest daughter might be having sex with her boyfriend at that moment, since the door to her room had been shut for hours. ‘Hoover loudly in front of the door’. I suggested, as a mood killer. “She would definitely suspect something was up if I started to do housework” she replied, “even the dog looked surprised when he saw me with the Hoover when Stephania (her home help ) was away….”
So it is left to my oldest-friend-since-having-children to give the best counsel. Our sons were each others first friends (made at nursery school) and became best friends though out primary school. Now they are junior grown ups, we’ve shared a lot of ‘when is it ok to….?’ debates across our respective kitchen tables. She lets her son’s girlfriend stay but is insistent that they are discreet about it (she has a younger daughter). “You’ll just know when it’s ok”, she say’s wisely, “you figured out when it was ok to let them walk to school on their own, when to let them stay out late, you’ll know when it’s ok to let the girlfriend stay.”
So with that in mind, I will be ready to address the situation when it occurs, I will know in my heart (which I suspect will be beating very fast with anxiety) when it’s ok. Meanwhile I don’t think that 9.30 is too early for me to go to bed on a Saturday night with my bucket full of sand, do you?