Chit chat chit chat... Yesterday saw my H and me at a large party to celebrate an old friend of my H's 50th birthday, in Kent. The last time I'd seen many of these people was when Ben was little and we lived in Kent, so all of us were doing a lot of polite-conversation catching up. Most had teenage children; indeed many of them were at the party. And all of them were tucking into the massive buffet and taking advantage of free drinks before they left for a night out on the tiles.
So, as you can imagine, there were a heck of a lot of "Oh you know what teenagers are like... hollow legs! / He can eat for England!!!" remarks, as the kids - mainly boys - knocked back stupendous amount of food and drink.
Occasionally a parent would introduce their offspring to us with comments like: "Last time you saw him he must have been 2 years old?" Followed by comparisons about being rugby mad, getting huge and generally being a typical boisterous teenager. One boy, especially, was massive - a true 'prop forward' in rugby.
So H and I joined in this kind of conversation. We had to, really, because it would have been inappropriate to say: "Well actually everything went all pear-shaped with Ben when he developed anorexia, lost one third of his body-weight an we went through three years of hell."
Instead we just said that he used to love rugby, but gave it up because he got bored with it. And Ben is a fabulous cook; he loves his food. Cakes, biscuits, pies, you name it... It's like living in a Michelin starred restaurant! And, no, he isn't at this party because he's at home. He's got his mates round. Well you know what it's like when they get wind that their parents are going away for the weekend and they've got the house to themselves! Chortle, chortle.
Well, in a way, it was all true. Ben did used to love ruby and he did get bored with it. Only, because he did, he devised new and ever more imaginative ways to ensure he ate less food so he wouldn't "get fat". And, then, instead of doing less sport, he did more. This, coupled with the reduced food intake, sent his weight spiraling downwards and he went onto develop anorexia. Yes Ben is a fabulous cook and he does love his food. And he does make cakes, biscuits and pies, and it is like living in a Michelin starred restaurant. But, up until recently, they've been carefully calorie counted which you wouldn't expect from a growing teenage boy. And, during those early months, he "slimmed down" recipes so they were fat-free and low in carbs. It was a million light years away from those teenage boys tucking in at the party. I doubt if they'd know the meaning of the word "calorie".
Yes, Ben did have his friends round yesterday afternoon. But you know what? It's the first time he's had his friends round for over four long years. And it's a different set of friends; his old friends have deserted him. This group is very new and we are thrilled to see Ben making friends again and inviting them round to our house.
So, while this group of teenagers were laughing, joking, eating and drinking like teenagers do, our teenage son was learning how to socialise all over again, having been in isolation on Planet Zorg for a number of years.
But of course we said none of that, and no-one was any the wiser that our son, Ben, was any different from their lads.