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Teenage Rebellion

“Barbara Rebecca, get your butt down here now. No arguments,” Frankie Jenkins shouted up to her daughter.

“Yeah, yeah, Mum. Getting your knickers in a twist again? And cut out the Barbara bit while you’re about it. If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a trillion times - everyone, like everyone calls me Barbie, so why don’t you just listen?” her daughter shouted down the stairs with a heavy emphasis on the ‘listen’.

“Barbie, Barbie indeed,” Frankie grumbled to herself. “I’ll give her Barbie one of these days. Even Barbie wouldn’t be seen out on the streets looking like she does.”

Thump, thump, thump. The staircase shook as Barbie descended the stairs two at a time as her Doc Martens did their level best at wearing away what was left of the stair carpet. “Just tea, green tea,” she announced dragging one of the kitchen chairs out from the table, “And an apple and a banana - and not one of those soggy, brown things in the basket.”

“A please and a thank you helps, young lady,” Frankie replied as she poured boiling water over the Tetley tea bag and picked out a well-bruised apple and a well ripe banana. “It’s that or nothing,” she said plonking both in front of her daughter as her eyebrows shot up to the ceiling. “What in heavens name do you think you look like?”

“Get a life, mum. This is cool.” Barbie stared insolently at her mother. Was she for real? What had she done to deserve a mother like this? Wasn’t it about time that someone introduced a new law that allowed you to trade your parents for a different model? It couldn’t come too soon.

Frankie stared in disbelief at her daughter. Yesterday when she had gone upstairs to bed she had been relatively normal - rude, yes; uncommunicative, yes; disobedient, yes, but at least she had almost looked human. Her long blond hair was now streaked with blue and purple and pushed untidily behind her ears. Her face was caked with a foundation that bore an uncanny resemblance to the ready to roll icing sugar that she kept for emergencies in the pantry. Meticulously straight black lines framed her green eyes beneath eyebrows sculped and shaped almost beyond recognition. Her eyelashes brushed the top of her cheeks as she sipped her tea through vermillion lips that would have sent Marilyn Monroe into paroxysms of jealousy.

Speechless, Frankie looked down at her fifteen-year-old daughter? Had this monstrosity really come out of her womb?

“It’s dress down day, Mother. Ever heard of it? I don’t suppose they had such a thing a hundred years ago when you were at school,” Barbie replied as she pushed her earphones into her ears and started beating time with the music. Why was it that they had to go over the same ground month after month?

“OMG, Frankie. What are you wearing? Why do I spend good money on decent clothes and all you want to do is look like you just walked straight out of a charity job. Did anybody ever tell you that it’s winter out there? There are holes in the knees of those jeans bigger than craters - the legs of them are hanging on by a thread.

“It’s called fashion, Mother. They are meant to be like that.” Barbie shouted at her mother over the music whilst her fingers danced across the screen of her smartphone.

How in heavens name did fashion dictate that her daughter should wear so many layers of vastly varying length and completely mismatched tops? She would never understand.

“Did I tell you that I’m doing a sleepover at Emma’s tonight?” Barbie mentioned in passing. “Well, if I didn’t I am,” she said answering her own question.

“I suppose young lady that your mother doesn’t have any say in it?” It was a rhetorical question.

Barbie frowned at her mother, pushed her chair away from the table and left. “Weird,” she said as she left.

8.45 in the morning and Frankie was already exhausted - anyone would be if they had to deal with a rebel like Barbie who at the tender age of fifteen already had a first class degree in doing everything possible to wind her up.

The front door opened and closed with a bang. ‘Barbie’ had gone.

Frankie finished clearing the table and walked out to the front hallway, pulled the screwed up paper out of the door and looked at in disgust. It was the Daily Mail. Sure it wasn’t the most informative newspaper in the world but the sheets were the right size for putting down on the kitchen floor after she had cleaned it.

Five words were plastered in one inch high letters across the front page: Milk is bad for you. In small print, the article credited the information to the Chief Medical Officer.

“Oh, for Christ sake,” Frankie shouted slamming her Latte down on the table with a resounding thump. “Is there nothing good for us anymore? Who’s in charge of this bloody nanny state? Come on you faceless bureaucrats answer me that one!”

“Red meat, seafood, wine, beer, coke, sugar, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, coffee, tea, chocolate, aspirin, fizzy drinks … is there anything else you want to deprive us of? I’ll have you know that my grandparents lived to be a hundred and ate all those things, got drunk three times a week and smoked twenty fags a day! What have you got to say about that Mr CMO? Well, come on answer me! You and your cronies spend your bloody life in Whitehall dreaming up tomorrow’s shit! And do you know why? I’ll tell you. It because you can’t stand the idea of anyone having fun anymore. Admit it. I’m sick to death of the whole bloody lot of you and let me tell you that I am not going to put up with being dictated to by you or anybody else ever again. So there!”

“And whilst you’re at it - will you please stop treating me like a child of three. I don’t need you to tell me how long I should cook a chicken for, I don’t need you to stop me buying more than two packs of paracetamol when I go shopping, I don’t need you to seal every bloody pack of everything I buy in case some idiot contaminates it, I don’t need you to tell me that it’s my responsibility to look after my credit cards, I don’t need you to tell me how to bring up my children, I don’t need you to tell me not to put my fingers into a bloody electric socket and I certainly don’t need you to tell my daughter that she can wear trousers to school if she decides that she’s not sure what gender she is! You’ve all gone bloody mad, lost the plot or ‘weird’ as my daughter would say.”

Red in the face with ranting at the walls, Frankie threw the paper down on the table - it wasn’t even fit for the floor - picked up her handbag, mobile and car keys and slammed the front door as she left the house.

“I’ll have a double cheeseburger, fries, and a large coke.” It was the first time she had ever been in McDonald’s let alone a McDonald’s drive-through. Frankie placed her order, handed over an extortionate amount of cash and drove to the pickup window. The mobile wedged firmly between her legs lit up the car, played the first few verses of the halleluiah chorus and vibrated uncontrollably. At any other time she might have found the experience enjoyable. It was a text from ‘Barbie’ to say that she was to have a good day; she wasn’t such a bad kid.

Frankie smiled as she reached through the window to collect her brown paper bag. There was nothing written on it to say that she was about to consume a thousand calories or that the coke was going to send her hyper for the next three hours. For one tiny moment, she felt as though she might have found the last bastion of sanity. Burger in one hand, ketchup smeared across her face and dripping on her jeans, Frankie turned up the stereo and steered the car out on to the road.

“Excuse, Madam, would you roll down your window……”

Frankie looked up. The traffic lights were still red. She hadn’t jumped the lights. Shit, she thought to herself…

“Is there a problem Officer?” she asked wiping her hands on a tissue and winding down the window.

“You could say that. Tut tut. Do you know you could kill someone driving with one hand? It’s illegal you know?” The policeman said shaking his head.

Frankie saw red. “You’re no better than the rest of them. Jobs worth. Do you know that I can’t eat red meat, seafood, sugar, saturated fat, or unsaturated fat? It’s not good for me! Do you know that I can’t drink wine, beer, coke, coffee, tea, chocolate, or fizzy drinks? They’re not good for me. Do you know that I can’t even take a bloody aspirin when I have a hangover? I’ll have you know that my grandparents lived to be a hundred and ate all those things, got drunk three times a week and smoked twenty fags a day!”

“I am sick to death of being treated like a child of three. I don’t need you to tell me how long I should cook a chicken for, I don’t need you to stop me buying more than two packs of paracetamol when I go shopping, I don’t need you to seal every bloody pack of everything I buy in case some idiot contaminates it, I don’t need you to tell me that it’s my responsibility to look after my credit cards, I don’t need you to tell me how to bring up my children, I don’t need you to tell me not to put my fingers into a bloody electric socket and I certainly don’t need you to tell my daughter that she can wear trousers to school if she decides that she’s not sure what gender she is! You’ve all gone bloody mad, lost the plot or ‘weird’ as my daughter would say. And now you’re telling me that I can’t eat a McDonalds and drive at the same time! Let me tell you that this is an automatic car with power steering and I only need two eyes, one hand and one foot to drive it!”

Exhausted by her outburst Frankie sunk further down in the driver’s seat and rested her head against the headrest. “I’m just sick of the lot of it. It’s time someone rebelled. You can book me if you like but I shan’t pay. You can take me to the police station if you like, charge me and I don’t care. You can lock me up and throw away the key if you like… I will not be dictated to any longer.”

“Mum, where are you?” Barbie asked.

“At the police station. I had a little run-in with the local police,” Frankie replied.

“How? What?” Barbie asked, shocked beyond belief that her mother could be so irresponsible. “Why?”

“Well, let’s put it this way Barbie. Contrary to popular belief, rebellion is not the sole prerogative of the young…” Frankie replied.

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