Free at last! Whether you’re at college, university, working in the city or enjoying a gap year, you’ve finally cut the apron strings. No more curfews, no more lectures, no having to tidy your bedroom or ‘eat sensibly’. Now you’ve left home you can do pretty much what you want, make your own choices and be answerable to no one.
And, best of all, thanks to modern technology, you can continue to exert your influence over the family, making your ‘presence’ well and truly felt wherever you happen to be.
By following the instructions of my previous blog, you’ll no doubt have perfected the art of annoying your significant adults while still living at home. But now you’re virtually independent, you really need to raise your game. Here are some excellent suggestions:
1. Remember when you refused to tell your parents where you’d been the night before? Well, forget that. Now you need to tell them exactly where you’ve been, along with everyone you’ve met and what you did there, safe in the knowledge they can do absolutely nothing about it. One week after my own offspring had sprung to London, she told me about a friendship she’d struck up with a sweet ‘hippy-type’ person she’d encountered in an otherwise deserted subway. At night. “Ahhh, he even offered to share his sleeping bag with me.”
2. If you get lost in the small hours in a particularly dodgy part of town, ring home and ask Mum or Dad to Google directions for you. (Naturally, you can’t use your Smart phone in case you ‘get mugged’) Then – and this is very IMPORTANT – turn off your phone and remain incommunicado for the next two days at least, guaranteeing another sleepless night and huge phone bills for the folks back home as they frantically ring police, hospitals and everyone they know.
3. Travelling abroad? Nothing stresses parents more than an overseas adventure, which throws up plenty of wind-up opportunities before you even get there. This starts at the planning stage.
4. Whether aiming for the North Face of the Eiger or your local MacDonald’s, don't waste Gigahertz and valuable chilling time with tedious googling when Mum’s sitting at home with nothing to do. (Dad’s are pretty much out of it by this stage, being for the most part mere conduits who pass everything on to the ‘staff’. “I’ll get your mother to do it” is the usual stock reply.) From now on, all the research/planning/pricing/booking is down to Mum. Don’t accept any negligence and, once she’s arranged everything, be quick to point out her mistakes: “No Mum! Not Shanghai – ShangDONG!”
5. The night before you set off ask Mum to phone you at 4am so you won’t oversleep and miss your plane/coach/bus/ship. On no account must you answer it, leaving Mum to wonder whether you got up in time. A short text to say you DID overslept is permissible on route, but hardly necessary as, once at the airport, you can call to tell Mum that the plane’s been delayed - possibly due to a bomb threat. “There’s LOADS of policemen here!”
6. Make sure you’ve forgotten something very, very important, like your favourite flip-flops, for example – the ONLY ones you can wear without getting foot-rot – which will then have to be located and posted at great trouble and expense.
7. Having reached your destination, make sure you switch off your phone completely, resisting any urge to text or email. Forget the saying “No news is good news”. Mums’ minds just don’t work that way. In fact the longer she goes without hearing from you, the darker her imaginings become. The son of one couple I know set off on a solitary round-the-world voyage in his tidgy, second-hand yacht and nobody heard from him for TWO YEARS! A truly awesome wind-up!
8. Naturally, you’ll be taking lots of photographs and it’s permissible to send the odd pic to your folks, preferably in a suitably exotic environment: Teetering on the brink of a live volcano, for instance; bungee-jumping from the Eiffel Tower; shooting rapids down the Amazon; hacking through a jungle; sun-bathing in the middle of a desert (without your hat on), or frolicking on a beach near a nuclear reactor. Make sure wherever possible to feature local colour in the background, such as tigers, crocodiles, and indiginous militia in full battle mode. (In my daughter’s case it was a Komodo dragon, but let’s not go there!)
9. The return journey will doubtless be another mad panic, as chances are you’ll oversleep again or get your time zones mixed up. Now you can ring home to say you’re travelling in a rusty old taxi at 90mph with a 1000ft drop on one side and a hail of rocks from that rumbling volcano on the other! “But don’t worry Mum, the driver passed his test yesterday!”
10. When you finally get home, make sure you use the wrong exit, forcing Dad (who’s had it pretty easy so far) to drive aimlessly for miles in search of a non-existent parking bay wherever it is you happen to be. Of course you’ll need your Smart phone in which to bark increasingly vague directions: “I’m at the EXIT! Next to a bush! I don’t know what kind of bush - a GREEN one!”
A few choice phrases:
“Guess what? I’ve met a lovely Sheik who’s flying me to Beirut!”
“I’m walking through a massive field of beautiful pink poppies”
“How do you say ‘Clinic’ in Thai?’
“I’m somewhere near the North Korean border. Which way do I go?”
“Hang on, I’ve forgotten my crampons!”
“The outboard motor’s packed up and I’ve sprung a leak!”
“Tell me again – WHICH snakes are poisonous?”
“Of course it’s safe! There’s razor wire everywhere!”
“What’s the difference between a shark’s fin and a dolphin’s?”
“Everyone round here’s carrying an Uzi”
“I’ve discovered the path to eternal serenity”
“Must go – we’ve got pirates aboard!”
“What’s my passport number?”
“Hey, a cool French guy’s invited me to join the Legion!”
“Can you contact the Embassy for me?”
“Sounds like gunfire outside - hang on, Mum, I'll go and take a look”
"Can't find my inhaler"
"My tongue's turned blue!"
"Ahhhh.....there's lots of cute lions just 10 yards away!"
"Ahhhh.....there's lots of cute lions just 10 yards away!"