Diary of a demented mum: Mixing a mobile with a Wolverine proves a bad call
HERE'S the thing -- Denis O'Brien and others of his ilk can have no idea of the demons they've unleashed on the parents of teenage girls. You purchase the mobile as a treat: birthday gift, Confirmation memento, Christmas surprise, or, in your case and after much pleading, to mark the end of your daughter's primary-school career.
As recommended by the best psychologists you carefully outline two or three simple but well thought-out rules: always answer calls from parents, never use the phone during school hours, homework or after bedtime.
Your daughter agrees and hugs you both. "Best parents ever," she cries lovingly. Your husband sagely shakes his head.
"Those things are trouble," he observes. "Oh shut up," you retort. Spoilsport!
Within a few months of your daughter's entry into second-level education, you're forced to call an emergency meeting to -- calmly -- revisit the rules. She admits she has been forgetful about texting from bed and during homework and sheepishly agrees to comply in future.
It's only a matter of months before you're forced, by her blatant disregard of the rules combined with a series of late-night and disconcertingly cryptic text messages from unknown boys, to confiscate the phone.
Her deep, wrenching agony at the temporary loss of the battered little pay-as-you-go gadget with its dented jewels is a sight to behold.
She will be an outcast, a pariah, a social corpse. Friends will not use the landline to update her, she shrieks. Nobody wants to talk to parents. Especially her parents.
She might as well be dead.
The Wolverine's rage, needless to say, is not directed at herself for her deliberate disobedience; nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that she'd been caught texting in bed after midnight/during school hours/while doing homework, and failing to answer calls from worried parents with the excuse that "it was on silent".
"The mobile," she howls, "is a lifeline, more important than family, more nourishing than food, more vital than life itself." Didn't we get it?
Other mothers allowed their daughters to sleep with their phones under their pillow. Other mothers regularly upgraded their daughters' phones and bought extra glitter stickers and dangly phone jewellery to accessorise them.
Other fathers allowed their daughters to go on bill-pay -- and then paid the bill. Children had rights, you know.
She had told her friends, she cried. They had expressed utter disbelief at such insanity and kindly offered their old handsets.
Your husband raises his eyebrows at you.
"Don't you dare say one word," you snap.