I suspect that even without the aid of an enchanted spinning wheel, odds are that a 16-year-old Aurora would have taken to her bed for the remainder of her adolescence, if not for 100 years. Waking her, however, may have taken more than a single kiss from a passing prince. Away from fairytale magic, what it actually takes to fully rouse a slumbering teenager is still a mystery.
Moreover, it’s a mystery that I’m currently struggling with myself. I can’t remember having any dealings with Maleficent following the birth of the twins and yet I feel that I’m still trying to wake them after they fell asleep at the start of their adolescence. They’ve both got handsome princes who manage to rouse them temporarily into wakefulness, but it’s never a permanent solution.
I’ve tried micro-parenting, hovering over homework diaries and chaperoning to appointments. I’ve tried laissez-faire parenting, allowing them to suffer the consequences of their inertia. I feel an overwhelming desire to physically shake them. I know it’s not a good idea to shake an actual proper baby. But can you shake your nearly-grown-up babies when they fail to stir from either threat or bribe?
The health visitor came to visit Eve and baby Teddy this week. Had Eve registered Teddy with the GP? No. Had she applied for child benefit? No. Did she plan to go back to school soon? Yes – next week*. Had she made arrangements with the school? No. Had she started expressing milk to cover feeds during her time at school? No. Had Teddy tried a bottle? Yes. He’d hated it.
*The announcement that Eve was thinking about going back to school next week was news to me. And I’m the one whose going to be looking after him! Thanks for the heads up, Eve.
‘Good luck,’ the health visitor said to me, giving me a you’re-going-to-need-it look as she left. Eve returned to her dream world upstairs. I felt deflated.
Meanwhile, Indy is home for Easter. Not that we’d know – she’s pretty much ignoring us.
‘Has Indy left already?’ I asked Eve this lunchtime. ‘I only got a chance to nag her about one thing.’
‘Yes, that’s why she left,’ Eve helpfully informed me.
But she also has so much to be getting on with, and yet is attacking things with all the energy of a comatose sloth.
Home for five weeks, had she got a temporary job? No. Had she been in touch with the temp agencies at least? No. Had she written her CV? Yes. But it was on her ‘uni computer’.
Ok, it was looking unlikely that she’d be earning any cash this holiday (again!). Had she sent the paperwork off to claim a matured savings policy? No.
This morning she received a letter from Student Finance reminding her that she hadn’t applied for next year’s student loan. All she had to do was sign a pre-completed form and post it in the pre-addressed envelope. And yet she hadn’t.
Ok, growing up is scary. I can’t say I’ve always done a terrific job of it myself. But to see your kids being lethargic is beyond frustrating. There comes a point where they have to recognise that there are responsibilities that don’t just go away. They have to wake-up and face up to them, not just take to their beds.
Besides which, when they bury their heads in pillows, no matter how cosy and stuffed plump with feathers, they’re going to miss out on so much. If Indy got off her backside and got a job she’d find so much freedom. The jobs at the bottom of the pile may not be especially inspiring, but they are what you make it. Working as a waitress for £1.80 may not have been the most prestigious of jobs and there were shifts that sucked, but I had a blast all the same. I had a social life, I had a disposable income, I had savings. And I grew in confidence, which is just what Indy needs.
But the fear is holding her back. She doesn’t want to fail or face rejection so she’s taking to her bed rather than putting herself out there.
Can I shake her? Can I? Please.
Meanwhile, Eve has lost her sense of purpose beyond Teddy. There’s no structure or immediacy to her days beyond feeding, changing an sleeping. Even with the things she does need to do, why do today what you can put off til tomorrow?
Teddy is thriving. He’s feeding well, he’s sleeping better than Noodles, he’s smiling and responding to the world around him. But the only time we see Eve animated is when she’s dealing with Teddy. Then she glows. But the rest of the time she seems to be sleepwalking through her days.
But no matter how in love she is with her handsome baby prince, inertia doesn’t bring money in and get paperwork sorted. It’s frustrating to watch.
So can I shake her too? Can I? Please.
Or how do you wake teenage somnambulists and get them to engage in the real world? The world of chores and paperwork, deadlines and humdrum, rather than the fairytale world where you can fall asleep and wake up to a life that just falls into place.
The King and Queen in the fairytale were lucky. The whole royal household fell asleep alongside the princess. I wish that was the deal for the rest of us too. Does anyone have an enchanted spindle I can borrow by any chance? It won’t make much difference to Eve and Indy’s behaviour but it will save a lot of frustration for the rest of us if we can just snooze alongside.