It can be very lonely being home alone with a teenager. The two of us are just beginning our second week without our mother and executive wife, who is off gadding about in various parts of the northern hemisphere on business. She won’t be back for another two weeks yet and I can see things becoming a bit desperate if I can’t get some more company out of the daughter soon.
Between her mobile phone, her laptop and her bedroom door, the nearly 14-year-old daughter is a faraway presence in the house these days. In fact, the further she gets into teenagedom, the further away she gets from the rest of us – which is how it goes, I suppose. I just don’t like it much and never have, as all my little kids inevitably, and tragically, turned into big kids.
I was in a bookstore the other day looking at a book my little girl would have loved just three years ago. Now she’d probably look at it and shrug. “Do you want it?” the shop assistant asked. “No,” I told her, “my little girl’s too big for this one now.”
“Isn’t it sad when that happens?” said the assistant. It wasn’t a question that needed an answer. I left the shop feeling quite emotional. Three weeks is too long for a wife and mother to be away. It’s far too quiet without her.
In my current occupation as a part-time dog walker – our dog – and occasional columnist, I’m often home all day and I look forward to a bit of company. The executive wife is good at that sort of thing, coming home full of scary tales from the corporate jungle. At times, it’s as silent as the grave without her.
The daughter does come out for food and showers and that sort of thing, but she doesn’t say much as she passes through. The place she and her mates would rather be is the mall, where they can meet up and mooch about and do whatever they do – probably involving boys.
When I was a kid, we mooched about in the great outdoors. Malls are the modern outdoors, I guess, though not so great. Still, we’ll bond soon when we head off on a trip to Melbourne where Maddy’s big sister and brother live. The plan is to see them, see some sights and indulge in a little retail therapy.
Maddy and I are good together when it comes to shopping. She indulges my visits to book stores and I’m happy to venture with her into the frock zone. We’re a bit like the Ridges, with more father and less hair.
Maddy wants to go to a mall in Melbourne that is bigger, apparently, than any mall we’ve ever encountered. I can’t wait. There might be a feeling, too, that we could spend a bit and not be told off too much – given that we’ve been abandoned.