My teenager has just come back from two days at my parents. She rocked up there in complete Victoriana, a ruffly white dress (“It’s dirty.” “I know, it’s supposed to be.”), little lace-up boots, and a black and white leg o’ mutton sleeve coat. The little match girl indeed.
“I told them that they didn’t have to buy me anything, that I’m not celebrating Christmas. Grandpa and Grandma hate me now”, says my teenager.
“They don’t really you know. It’s me they hate. They are just expressing their annoyance with me through you.”
“So what happened with your friend the other night?” I ask, referring to the sleepover.
“Well she just annoys me. She’s really depressed. I’m really depressed but I don’t like other people so I don’t cry about it. It’s all second layer stuff anyway.”
“What are your friend’s ‘second layer problems’?”, I ask patiently.
“Well she’s not very attractive, not very intelligent, her mum has made her live in a foreign country, and she’s always crying about losing her dads.”
“Her dad…z?” I emphasize the plural.
“Yeah her real dad and her step-dad died. But that was years ago! She’s still going on about it”, says my teenager wearily.
“Hmm to lose one dad is unfortunate, to lose two is carelessness”, I paraphrase.