Thursday 11th August – Give a teenager a hug day.

I went, very nervously, into town today.

It’s hard to say if the shifty, hoody-hiding, football strip clad masses were plotting a wave of anarchy and destruction as most trips to Bedford these days involve a certain amount of negotiating with God to please, please let that my car not be up on bricks when I return to it, but I managed to get in and back out again relatively unscathed.

Phew.

There was one dicey moment when a gaggle of ‘yooves’ rushed toward me in what seemed, at the time, to be a riotous, terrifying and out-of-control manner but I quickly realised that it wasn’t because they’d i-spied a flat screen TV going begging, but rather that I was inadvertently standing in front of the benefit office which had just opened.

Whimpering with fear I staggered to a bench where I had to sit for twenty minutes while I regained control of my breathing, heartbeat and the ‘wetting-yourself-just-a-little-bit-when-you-aren’t-on-the-toilet’ part of my brain.

The current wave of window-smashing and building-burning may have tailed off but I wonder how long the damage that has been done, to the already struggling image and reputation of British youth, will last.

Has a ‘group’ of kids innocently ‘hanging out’ forever and henceforth become a ‘gang’?

I’m sure that, as a society, we are smart enough to realise that not all teenagers are mindless thugs always on the look-out for an opportunity to relieve you of your mobile phone, wallet or car-keys.

Not all pubescent kids use their PlayStations and Grand Theft Auto games as a training regime for their final mission, which is to actually ‘take-it-live,’ by turning Manchester City into Liberty City.

The Teenager and I have definitely faced our challenges this year but, when it came down to it, the weight of disapproval that he received from his family and the community at large seemed to get through to him. It was tough going there for a bit and I think in some ways it’s easier to just throw your hands up in the air and tell the little sods to get on with it than to keep having the same arguments on a daily basis.

Keep having them you must though.

It’s exhausting. It’s repetitive and it’s emotionally draining but I guess that’s the difference between parenting and co-habiting.

A steady regime of chain-smoking and crying is a feature of surviving this period in the life-cycle of a teenage rebellion but in the end, just occasionally, the talking gets through.

On the downside it means that the pain-in-the-arse-little-moaner goes back to following you around asking things like “Who’s on the phone,” “What are you doing” and, “What’s for dinner” the minute they open their eyes, but at least they’re there and as the police are advising, you know where they are.

It seems that, in this day and age, there’s quite a lot to be said for that.

So help me congratulate fab teens the country over, let’s celebrate the not-too-bad-ones.

Let’s raise a glass to smelly socks, lost bus-passes, general ‘lippy-ness’ and a permanently empty sweetie-cupboard.

Let’s celebrate (just for once) ‘Give-a-teenager-a-hug- day.’

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