Tuesday, 15 April 2008
A miracle has been slowly unfolding over the past four months. My teenage son has turned from a grumpy, belligerent ogre into a quite pleasant young man. Someone once told me that thirteen-fourteen was the worst age, but that by fifteen he’d be calming down. I didn’t believe them at the time, but now he’s only a few months off fifteen and he certainly does seem to be more like his old self.
It all started to get better around Christmas when he started complaining about not being able to sleep. He’s like many teenagers - sits at the computer until midnight and then falls into (an unmade) bed and can’t get out in the morning. At around the same time there was an article in the paper about people not being able to sleep because they used electronic gadgets just before bed. It advised that they should stay off computers, mobile phones, etc for an hour before they wanted to sleep. So I suggested he read a book before going to bed.
Shock! Horror! A book? This, to a child who has refused to read anything but school-assigned novels since he was nine years old? To my surprise, he took my advice. He started on Joanne Harris’s ‘Runemarks’ which an aunt (who doesn’t know him very well) had given him for Christmas. He finished it while we were on holidays and immediately started pestering me to find a bookshop, like someone in desperate need of a packet of cigarettes. He couldn’t imagine trying to go to sleep without a book. There were even times during the day where he could be found hidden away in a corner, reading.
Since then, it has been hard to keep up with him. He still refuses to use the library – at school or in town. It’s not ‘cool’ for a teenage boy to be seen borrowing a book. But I’ve been taking three or four at a time when I’m working in the Secondary Library. I read them, then pass on the ones I think he’ll like . He’s devoured a few of my old favourites at home, too.
Now that he’s sleeping better, he’s not so hard to get up in a morning. I no longer have to drag him to school with his eyebrows down round his ankles and his curls in a frizz. There have even been some mornings when he reaches the car before me. Miracles do happen.
Now, who’ll write a newspaper article for me saying that teenagers who tidy their rooms are more successful with the girls?