(Inspired by my experiences as father of a teenage girl)
It was the ticket and information caravan parked on the plaza for our town’s recent festival that gave me the idea: a one-stop shop for the frazzled parents of unmanageable young teenagers.
Welcome to our rather more discretely located Wild Angels Response (WAR) unit.
Maybe son number two is magnetically drawn to the naughty goings-on in the town’s shadier parts? No worries: we know where they — and he — are and we will have him home in no time. He will soon get over the shock. Call it tough love. He’ll understand. Sometime.
Your 13-year-old daughter slinking off to lock braces with that hair-gelled budding Lothario in the woods? Juliette and her Romeo will be parted before they’ve even met. Young love hurts, but not as much as low-voltage electricity.
We’ve been watching them all along, see? And have the concealed weapons to intervene. Swiftly and decisively. We’ll tell you more when we start the tour.
C’mon, mom and dad, when these weedy weapons of mass disruption have you at your wit’s end and plinking angry tears into your double-strength espressos, it’s war!
But it’s a war that you can win — WILL win — with us at your side. And covering your back.
This unit is all about helping you end this conflict — rapidly and in your favour. Masters in your own home again. And with minimum collateral damage.
Is all this necessary, you ask?
You kidding me? Your teenage kids are running riot, your house is a minefield with pubescent hormones exploding all around you. Doors slam, tempers erupt (not always their’s!), the verbal shrapnel zings your ears. Will it ever end?
Now the law doesn’t allow us to enter your home, but outside? We’re there: ready to defuse, disarm and deliver little Johnny or Jane home safely. Alive. And in no mood to resume hostilities on the home front.
Have we tried counselling, you ask? Listen, if reason and responsibility were big with these guys and they didn’t try to kick the door off its hinges every time we say ‘no’, we would talk. When the war is over, we will negotiate bedtimes and whether they are ready for that back to school disco in that dodgy nightclub. And, no, it doesn’t matter if all their friends are going.
Listen, we’re talking here about people who went to bed one night all snuggledy and grateful and woke the next morning in Stalag Azkaban, run by Despot Dad and Martinet Mom, the worst parents ever — and certainly the strictest, duh!
Let’s start that tour.
Out front we have the standard snack, taxi and phone-charging services. There’s an ATM machine for emergency Converse trainers or leggings from Penneys, but at the back, concealed, is where the interesting stuff happens.
Here, in front of General Zod — I mean Mr White — we have our standard giant computer screen. That’s the Google street view map of your town up there — participating parents have the accompanying WAR app.
See those moving dots? The circular ones are on foot, the rectangular ones in vehicles.The blue are subscribing parents, the rest are kids — your’s included. The colours relate to age and the shades correspond with their score on our own havoc risk assessment test. Dark is good, bright is bad.
If we see a vivid red circle heading for a known trouble spot, it’s all systems go.
It’s a bit like that Hailo taxi app thingie: I can tell it’s Johnny Blogs, aged 12, so I WAR app the parent nearest the scene and Johnny is intercepted — or caught rotten, depending on how soon our blue Mariah or Martin can get there.
If that parent can’t make it in time, we’ve got some real doozies lying in wait.
Here, on the left, see the control panel Storm, aka Mrs Flynn, is operating? See that vibrant purple dot heading for the harbour pier? That’s Storm’s 11-year-old daughter Abigail. She’s the girl who swore blind she wouldn’t go near the pier again after the accident the last time.
Those switches beside Storm are connected to the concealed weapons at and around the usual trouble blind spots — including the pier, of course. And elsewhere — sorry, that’s classified.
Abigail is getting closer. Storm has a choice of gas, electricity, water or flour. All intensity-adjustable. She has several to choose from at each location, at various heights, so the miscreants cannot see where the attacks are coming from.
First, she checks in with Emperor Ming (Mr Ryan, the park-keeper — a pretty cool cover, eh?) who has hidden the micro-cameras all over town he is scanning this afternoon from those screens to the right of the main one. Like a TV director, he calls up the images from the relevant cameras for Storm, using that row of buttons there, and she can take the appropriate action. Or aim.
A little bit of sneezing gas from behind the funnel on that little red fishing boat — you can see it there now on screen two which Ming has just called up — just as Abigail passes should do the trick there. It will wear off in 10 minutes or so. She won’t want to go near the water anyway.
You might like the new attachment we have developed for the water shooter for breaking up inappropriate love trysts. A fine, warm mist is directed downwards; this causes the boy’s hair gel to sag, leaving him crimson with embarrassment — you know how they are about their hair! He’ll be scurrying home. Mortified.
A few soothing noises when he sidles in the back door and your little lamb might even join you for that family movie you never watch together anymore.
That’s maybe enough information for now … if you want to sign up, grab one of those forms on the counter. Before you go, check out screen six … isn’t that your boy who just knocked the head off that prize rose in Mr White’s garden?