In which Evan discovers his outer drag queen…and that his mother needs to be taught a big new set of responses

Evan. Ahhhhhhhh…. Evan. My beautiful boy. My 6’4″ perfectly proportioned baby giant of a middle lad.

What? Bored already?

Ok, I admit to soppiness over Evan.

Born late, entering the world in a bloody-painful-for-me leisurely-for-him 4 hours, when his 10lb buddha-frame was gently scooped from the birthing pool, he could barely be bothered to squawk his arrival, preferring instead a calm contemplation of all around him.

He slept all night. Guzzled me efficiently and weaned painlessly – with a marked preference for winter comfort foods – mashed stews and meat; rice puddings; bananas.

He grew a halo of fat white blonde curls to adorn his apple head, long curling dark lashes to frame his periwinkle blue eyes- and provoked ooohs and aaaahs wherever he went.

Not much has changed.

The girls swoon. And so do some of the boys. He has an almost androgyny. His tall large muscular frame suits the pale pinks and baby blues; he can pull off floral prints and wear my sunglasses and look fabulously masculine. Even just a bit macho.

His is the attitude that I envy. He puts himself out there for laughs. Gets his hairy legs waxed for charity. Wears a granny suit for halloween and a ‘Borat’ man-kini for fancy dress. He gives lectures in class on poverty and equality and the evils of discrimination. Laid back, he does not stand when he can sit; nor sit when he can  lie. He is cat-like. Energy-conserving.

Except when it comes to party-preparation – when we will all be enveloped in Eau de Young Man on the Pull and endure a two hour wait for the shower room.

It was at last week’s party that Evan decided to get his eyebrows plucked ‘just to see what they’d look like’.

Evan’s pre-pluck-look was centimetre thick but shapely. With a tendency to meet mid-brow. They certainly don’t meet mid-brow now. And I’m not sure my measuring tape could record the width.

He unveiled ‘the diva look’ for the first time last weekend. It was late last Saturday night, and there was a gathering of the generations – his granny and granpa; mum and dad; eldest brother and girlfriend; younger siblings and cats – all gathered around the kitchen table laughing, drinking, swapping stories of our week and eating snacks.

At first – and I mean a ‘fraction of a second’ fleeting first glance in the general direction ‘at first’ – we didn’t react.

And then it began. Carrie’s sharp intake of breath and choking guffaw. Lewis – resolutely black and white in his role-definition (‘real men don’t pluck or at least don’t pluck as much as that’) – giving a heartfelt: Oh ffs what have you done now you total fanny – exclamation of disgust. Papa Jaime just shaking his head, speechless – but (and this was really weird – at least, coming from my father it was) latterly defending Evan’s right to do it. Mamie giving it her best shot with Well, maybe it’s the fashion…Is it the fashion Evan…? … Oh…It’s not…?…Oh, well then, they’ll grow in soon enough… Robert shrugging with aye, he’s jist a lad… and to Evan: Was she good-looking then? Did you score? The wee ones laughing and laughing and going OTT with their pointing and laughing Evan, your face is like a bum now…hahahahahahahaha.

Me? My response still bewilders me – especially coming from a woman who used to shave her head and dye her scalp blue…

I shook my head and said You are such a bloody idiot sometimes Evan. It looks a real mess. You look like a right tube. What on earth were you thinking about!

Was it my response that he was waiting for? Did he need me to laugh and think it was all a big joke? I think that maybe a bit of him did. Because my response was the only one that he caught and threw back. That kicked the sweetly smiling inner-buddha-boy into touch and woke the raging teen beneath…

You know what Mum? I don’t care what you think. I just don’t care. You just don’t get it. I did it for a laugh. It’s funny. And I don’t care if I look stupid because it’s a laugh Mum. A laugh. You just don’t get it: I don’t care what people think about me because I’m ME.

Honest folks, my response to the pluckery wasn’t that\vehement or ‘bothered’. But hey, it set off a whole big disproportionate verbal chain reaction from him.

His brows are growing on me (boom boom)… From the side I admire his sleek sweep from cheekbone to forehead. His Rue Paul-esque profile which is begging for metallic eyeshadow and false lashes. But I still prefer him the way he was pre-pluck.

It is our joint responses which have exercised me a bit. And finally, today I think I understand better what was going on. That the entire scene – everything about it – marks the rightful beginning of his assertion of separateness. His journey into adulthood. The final severing of the spiritual umbilical that we need to cut if we are to make our way – as unique and separate individuals – in the world.

His eyebrows are my shaved head – which, in its day, was as repugnant as rotting fish to my mother. And it’s to my mother I need to turn for the next lesson: how to let go, without losing your child…


A Tale of Underage Drinking…

Teenagers are nuclear meltdowns waiting to happen. Or maybe that is just the teenagers in my house.

Having said he was having a sleepover at his pals (we have never had any reason not to trust him), baby giant decided to go to alcohol-hell last night. He staged a mid-teen meltdown all of his own. Decided to surpass his (marginally older) mates drinking exploits. By downing a 70cl of vodka. 70cl just for him. And neat. No dilution of intoxication for my lad.

Now, I am no angel. I have been drunk. On numerous occasions (in the past). I have seen many others drunk. And in truth, some drunks are amusing. In fact, whilst drunk I too have thought I was touched by comedic genius. No doubt in a what an arsehole kind of a way. Other drunks are angry and ugly. But most of the drunks of my acquaintance have been capable of wording their slurs and activating their homing-pigeon abilities to get them home.

Not my lad. My lad passed out in an I need my stomach pumped kind of a way. Then he lay, unconscious by the roadside in the wet and sub-zero temperatures, without benefit of jacket. Whilst his pals pondered in their own drunken way the dilemma of what do we do with him. And whilst his Reynauds Disease went to work on cutting off the circulation to his hands and feet.

They couldn’t move him. He is 6ft 4″ and 13 stones. He was a dead weight. Eventually they went through his mobile and decided to call his 70 yr old Papa. Not his mother. And certainly not his father. And Papa, thinking how drunk can he really be? decided to go get him on his own.

So, Papa (ex-ambulance driver and paramedic) raced to the scene. Papa checked the lad for vital signs and then got the pals to bundle him into the car. Easier said than done with a dead weight.

When he arrived here, lad was upside down with his head on the rear floor, stuck between the front passenger seat and the rear seat. That is what happens when your bones have dissolved in the alcohol soup circulating around your body. You cannot sit up. You are jelly.

It took 30 minutes to remove him from the car. He was become a giant amoeba. Insentient. Eldest son and father eventually dragged him to the house. He was hauled to my bedroom (the nearest and on the ground floor of this 5 storey house). His clothes – sodden with urine (his) – were peeled and then cut from him. He suffered the ignominy of his mother washing him. He could not utter any intelligible sounds. His hands and feet were blue (Reynauds). We placed him in the recovery position.

We spent the night – his father and I – warming and nursing and watching him. Debating whether we should call an ambulance. Until 3am, when he decided to pee my bed. Destroying duvet and mattress. At that point he woke sufficiently to stand in a shower and be shouted at.

Nobody ever said parenting was easy. There are never any guarantees. And I have never ever smugly thought my child wouldn’t do that. Because we never know and cannot ever be that sure. We can imagine we have passed the right values. And that they have listened. But the siren call of hormones and peer group pressure and learning from your own mistakes – these are powerful pulls on our children. And, in the West of Scotland the alcohol culture is persistent – oppressive – omnipresent.

He is sitting across from me as I type. Having foregone the Motherwell game today (not much of a sacrifice – but still). Having handed his money over to pay for replacement bedding. Having accepted that he will be grounded until the New Year. Having handed me his Facebook password for deactivation and his mobile phone.

He has cried – with shame. Can give little explanation beyond – they were all drinking and he wasn’t working today.

As his father has wryly pointed out to him he will have little excuse for poor prelim results in December with all the study time he now has before him…

I feel sad. Oh, I know, no-one has died. He has learned a valuable lesson or five. But we have a way to go before trust and respect are earned back.