We did it! We did a week away in France – including a 600 mile drive there and 600 miles back – and nobody died. (And I didn’t get refused entry in or out with my dodgy passport photo!)
So, in the interests of other step mums out there who might appreciate a bit of insight, or who just want to feel like they aren’t the only one, I’ve put together my top ten observations on what to expect on holiday with teen boys.
(Mum’s might also nod knowingly at this, but I obviously have a soft spot for the Steps among us as 1) we get thrown in without a gentle introduction from cute baby and just arrive at boy lump, 2) there are tricky bits I think only step mums will get when it comes to ‘shaping’ teens as ‘you’re not my Mum’… and 3) being really honest, there can be complicated feelings from our side too.)
Things I learned on holiday with two teenage boys:
1. There is a bubble that exists between the boy teen and the world and it might as well be a physical thing. In the bubble is them, their food and their phone. Even on holiday only really significant things (beach, water park etc) can extract them willingly from said bubble.
2. Teen boys are unable to hear the volume at which they are communicating. Significant communication efforts take place at either barely audible muttering level or almost shouting*
*Note: the shouting isn’t necessarily in anger – it’s just an apparent inability to talk at a normal volume.
3. Some things are no different to home: It takes forever to get them into the bathroom. And takes forever to get them back out.
4. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING is responded to with either “I know’, ‘I was about to say that’ or ‘I was about to do that’. (Clearly my timing has some telepathic link as there was absolutely no exception to this with the older one).
5. Either they put nothing in the washing pile or everything in the washing pile. Two teen boys do not wear anywhere near the same number of pants or socks over a week. (Go figure).
6. Teen boys eat. And eat. And eat. And it just does not stop. And unbelievably they manage to eat even more on holiday.
7. Probably as a direct link to the above, it’s best to avoid a shared bathroom as much as is humanly possible with teen boys and when you have no choice, breath through your mouth only.
8. When asked to help unpack the shopping / the beach bag / make a sandwich/ do the washing up etc, at least one teen will urgently need the toilet for exactly the amount of time it takes to complete the task…
9. Teen boys can talk about a pet subject for hours and hours – football and You Tubers are the topics of choice with these two. Top tip: as step mum, you are not actually required to input to these – a bit of nodding at the start of the conversation and when it gets more detailed they either zone out everyone except each other anyway, or can carry a monologue while you get lost on your own thoughts…
10. Man flu starts early. Sixteen apparently. And it’s bad – it goes to full blown man flu right from the first sniffle. It requires an entire box of tissues and a full kitchen roll over the space of three days, a lot of lying down – especially when the washing up needs doing – and involves a HUGE amount of sighing and grunting. It does not, however, impact appetite even a tiny bit.
But, like I said, we all made it through. Some of us may have ground our teeth to powder a few times and may have got REALLY good at taking a few deep breaths and doing a big smile, but I’m sure that wasn’t just me. And there were some great moments too – watching them try escargot, their eyes lighting up when they were handed a bubble waffle (huge waffle filled with ice cream and vast amounts of sugar-y stuff), and being told I have an ‘actual evil step mum laugh’ are just a few.
And they’re 13 and 16 after all – it has to get easier quite soon, right? Right?!