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Thinak about the child

PUBLISHED: 10:23 22 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:03 06 July 2010

LUNCHING the other day with two friends over 50, we bemoaned the exhaustion and stresses of parenting stroppy teenagers.

"Give us the terrible twos and toddler tantrums any day," agreed my friends, who had their children in their late 30s and early 40s.

LUNCHING the other day with two friends over 50, we bemoaned the exhaustion and stresses of parenting stroppy teenagers.

“Give us the terrible twos and toddler tantrums any day,” agreed my friends, who had their children in their late 30s and early 40s. “At least they were in bed by 7.

“Hormones, homework, hair dye, curfews, alcohol. Not to mention the worry of drugs. I'm too old for all this,” one said. “We should have had our children younger.”

The next day it was revealed retired teacher Sue Tollefsen was to become the oldest woman to receive fertility treatment in Britain at 59.

She already has a toddler daughter, the result of fertility treatment in Russia two years ago after being refused IVF in Britain. She hopes to give birth aged 60.

She must be mad.

She is full of life and healthy, she insists.

Well she might be. Fifty-nine may not feel old but the early days are the easy part compared to the mental gymnastics of parenting headstrong teens.

Sleepless nights and pushing a pram is a doddle compared to negotiating, managing and second-guessing rumbustious 10-year-olds, hormonal 13-year-olds and rebellious 16-year-olds.

I've the grey hairs now and there's far worse to come.

Mrs Tollefsen would be full of beans at the thought of getting her own way and having another baby to cradle but how feisty will she be in her 70s with obstreperous teens?

When her 16-year-old is going awol, staying out al night and binge drinking, if she survives to see it, she'll be 76, at least? However sprightly she might feel today, she won't feel much like reading the riot act in the early hours when she's pushing 80.Heated bickering over boyfriends versus homework at 15, serving as their taxi drivers at all hours to sports and parties, the demands of parenting are 24/7 with teenagers needing far more of their parents' time, energy and head space than babies and toddlers ever do.

Her health is the least of the issues. After all, she's bringing it on herself. What of the welfare child? No child enjoys being different. Different means difficult. Standing out.

Even my boys point out that I'm older than most of their friends' mums - and I had my first at 32.

And no child should have to fear losing their mother before they've left primary school because of the mother's selfish whim.

It's not about the present and her It's about the future - a child's future.

This is reckless selfishness in the extreme. She wants therefore she will get and damn anyone else.

The London Women's Clinic helping her is being wholly irresponsible. Her treatment will open the floodgates to other older women with £5000 to buy a baby.

But the pro-older mothers lobby insists it's only fair. Men can become fathers at any time so why shouldn't women? Well, nature may be unfair but that's how it is. Life is unjust.

If women want to make a difference to a child's life, influence another generation, have something to care for and nurture, there are enough children in need of help, guidance and love struggling and suffering desperately in need of a listening ear or patient caring advice.

A woman doesn't have to “own” a child to make a difference.

Perhaps Mrs Tollefsen should talk to bereaved children who lost their parents and were left to fend for themselves.

But this would probably make no difference. There is only one person at the centre of this issue and at forefront of Mrs Tollefsen's mind -Mrs Tollefsen, which tells us just the sort of mother she will make.

“How Lowestoft-like are you? is a quiz running on the social networking site Facebook.

Its purpose is to denigrate the town for a cheap laugh.

Its message, doubtless hilarious to the half-wit originator, is to be a true Lowestoftian is something to be ashamed of.

The 'life and soul of Lowestoft', a true born and bred Lowestoftian, according to the quiz, is a strong lager-drinking jobless waster.

Questions include: Do you have a job? At night where are you most likely to be found? What would you be doing in the summer - on the beach or getting wasted?

Taking it for fun before I realised what it was all about, I was deemed “somewhat Lowestoftian “ Somewhat? I'm Lowestoft to the core. My paternal great grandfather was a trawler skipper and my maternal grandfather was Lowestoft railway stationmaster.

I'm proud to be from Lowestoft and fly its flag.

But that's not what it meant, of course.

To be “somewhat Lowestoftian' meant I was an “average person that happens to have been caught in the desparity (sic) that Lowestoft offers you. You've either finished school with decent grades, or are doing well.”

A “born and bred” Lowestoftian means: “You were the love child of your mother and her brother. During the day you can be found at the likes of the Fen Park and Sparrows Nest, whilst at night, you roam the Lowestoft nightlife, at places such as the South Pier and Bank Stores. The highlights include getting drunk almost ever day and abusing people in Kensington Gardens. You are the life and soul of Lowestoft.”

Charming. Of course it's all nonsense and pointless.

But how are Lowestoft people expected to be proud of their roots and their hometown if people constantly talk it down?

Young people will want to grab their qualifications and run away. Mud sticks.

Lowestoft is not the armpit of the east. It's time we were all talking it up, singing its achievements and pulling together for its future. For the next generation of true Lowestoftians.

Sometimes it feels David 'I put the 'c' into casual' Cameron has just arrived bleary eyed from his last heavy session with the Bullingdon Club into the daylight of 21st century Britain.

Woken from his background of comfy cosseted wealth to the harsh reality of life for many.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday he wrote about: “Teenagers who have a baby but no GCSEs. Kids who are more likely to see their dad drunk than doing a day's work. The one in four women suffering domestic abuse at some point in their life” as if these were new phenomenon.

It might all be new to 'Call me Dave” from Eton and Oxford but for the rest of us living in the real world all our lives its same old, same old and he won't be the first politician to promise to fix it.

Killer butter is the latest addition to the health police's hit list.

The humble yellow pat in our fridges is a dangerous hazard poised to strike us down via our daily toast.

Leading heart surgeon Shyam Kolvekar wants to ban butter replacing it with a 'healthy spread'.

A ban - yes, a ban. Can you imagine the Victorians churning their butter to a ban learning it would one day be banned? - would save thousands of lives each year, he says.

So would banning the car, alcohol, cigarettes, bicycles, stairs, kitchen knives, anything that has ever contributed to the death of anyone or any thing.

'Healthy' spreads taste like slimy plastic. Butter tastes divine.

My grandmother lived into her 90s and only ate best butter, pastry made with lard, a pudding with custard most days and full fat everything.

Everything in moderation. But no one knows what moderation means any more. We eat and drink like every day is our last.

Perhaps Nanny State should focus on moderation more than treating us all like morons and banning anything we can't be trusted to ration. Not everyone is an uncontrolled glutton.

The divorce industry is becoming as tacky as the vulgar lucrative marriage business.

Divorce gift vouchers, divorce cakes, divorce parties and adverts from lawyers promising to help couples get a “good divorce” -can there ever be such a thing? - now comes the Divorce Gift List.

So many people trying to cash in on heartbreak and broken families.

The ink on the thank you letters from the wedding list might not be even dry when the couple can set up their Divorce Gift List at Debenhams.

Friends and family of the break-up couple can help them set up homes as new singletons.

“Happy divorce. Here's a new toaster.”

Yes, it's sick. The message to already confused and distraught children living apart from one parent? Get divorced and get presents.

People should grieve the end of a marriage not spend a couple of hours with a gift advisor setting up a list expecting other people to provide.

It's grasping enough to send wedding lists out with invitations but have we really sunk so low to celebrate the sad end of a union supposed to last a lifetime with rank greed and consumerism?

Young men's bodies are flown home from Afghanistan.

We spare a thought for their loss, their families, their wives, their children and e move on with our lives.

But behind each individual carried home and sent off with full military honours are the people who have to carry on. To rebuild their own lives.

And behind those servicemen and women left in Afghanistan are families back home fearing what every day might bring. Will their loved one be next to be flown home in a coffin?

The families who wake up each morning wracked with worry, go to work trying to keep their minds on what they're doing, going about their daily business like you and I, trawling the aisles of the supermarket, throwing birthday parties for their children with Daddy in peril thousands of miles away. Carrying on as normal when nothing in their lives is truly normal. They all deserve our thoughts.

And for the widows pushing on, alone or with their children, so proud of what their husbands achieved. We forget them all too easily after the news of an individual subsides.

But they are the courageous ones who deserve more than a fleeting sentiment of sympathy. They deserve a nation's total admiration for their sacrifice.

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