Tuesday, July 28: 4:23 p.m.
In case you’re wondering what undiscovered genius is writing this User’s Guide, it’s me!
My name’s Katie Sutton, I’m thirteen years old and I may, quite possibly, be one of the world’s leading experts in Grown-Up behavior. For many years I’ve been studying their strange modes and functions.
I like to think of myself as a bit like the famous wildlife expert David Attenborough--only instead of studying chimps, hyenas and fruit bats, I’m studying my mum, my nan and my Auntie Julie!
My studies of them, and of other Grown-Ups I’ve encountered, have led me to write this excellent guide. After all, someone needs to . . . and who better than an expert on Grown-Up behavior like myself? You see, it’s a jungle out there. One that’s full of Grown-Ups. And according to the law of the jungle, you either eat or you get eaten. . . .
In this comprehensive guide, I’m going to share with you my secret knowledge of Grown-Ups, gained from years of intensive study and experimentation.
You too can become highly skilled at:
1) understanding their insane behavior
2) predicting their next moves
3) operating them to your best advantage.
With my help, I guarantee you can stay one step ahead of your Grown-Ups so you can survive their embarrassing weirdnesses. How cool is that?
You probably think an (as of yet) undiscovered genius and possible world expert should live somewhere interesting and stimulating--in a huge exciting city or, failing that, in any town big enough to have a shopping center. Unfortunately, I’m not so lucky. I live in Brindleton, voted the Most Boring Village in Oxfordshire in a recent survey (conducted by me).
Brindleton’s not the quiet, pretty little village you might imagine it to be. It’s a sprawling sort of a place that’s a mixture of little cottages, posh detached redbrick houses and millions of public housing units--like the one I live in.
I live with my mum; my older sister, Mandy, who’s fifteen; and my little brother, Jack, who’s eight. Dad’s no longer around. The final member of our family is Rascal. He’s a West Highland terrier and he’s twelve years old, which is eighty-four in human years! He’s a small white scruffy bundle of a dog with hilarious pointy ears, and his main hobby is licking people’s faces.
My enormous extended family also live in the village. For some reason hardly anybody ever leaves. Spooky but true. On one hand, it’s great for research, but on the other, I can’t walk down the street without being attacked by at least one auntie. I can’t go to the town gardens, the park, the local shops . . . or anywhere without bumping into someone from my gene pool.
My nan (Mum’s mum) works in the minimart. So I can’t even go there without her sticking her very nosy nose in my business. Nothing’s sacred, believe me.
Take this morning, for example. I went in to buy some ice cream. Nan Williams was grimly stacking toilet paper rolls into a huge pyramid. I tried to sneak past without her noticing me, but it was no good.
“I hear your brother’s got A BAD STOMACH!” she shouted at full lung capacity, so that anyone within a five-kilometer radius could hear. “Your Auntie Susan told me. How’s he doing; is he getting over it?”
“Yes,” I whispered, my face burning hot.
“Messy business! How about you, Katie, have YOU got the runs?”
There is no such thing as privacy when you live in Brindleton.
Still, every cloud has a silver lining, as Nan would say. Being surrounded by so many Grown-Ups who think they have a right to broadcast the tragic details of my life and comment on everything I do is tough. But it’s forced me to develop some vital skills and techniques--all of which I will share with you in this brilliantly useful guide.
One way you can stop Grown-Ups figuring out your evil master plan for Grown-Up Domination is by covering this guide in brown paper and writing DIFFICULT MATH EQUATIONS on the front in permanent black marker. Your Grown-Up will be delighted and proud when they see you with your nose stuck in it.
This is exactly the sort of fantastic trick that gives you the advantage when dealing with Grown-Ups.
You might be wondering why you should believe a word I say, so I should probably tell you a bit more about myself. I’m just your average teenager. I’m five feet tall, with green eyes and straight, shoulder-length black hair, which just hangs round my ears in an uninteresting way. I think my chin is slightly too pointy, which is a family trait. Brindleton’s full of people with pointy chins. And I have hideously skinny legs, which have been compared to Twiglets due to my knobbly knees.
Mum says I’m “striking-looking,” which is her way of avoiding saying I’m not as beautiful as my cousin Hannah--who has long blond hair and the perfect nose--but Hannah is also my best friend in the whole world, so I don’t mind.
My other best friend in the whole world is Louise, who we call Loops because she’s got very curly red hair. Hannah and Loops are both totally amazing and fab in every way. They make me laugh so hard, stuff comes out of my nose.
But now it’s time for a confession. Even though I may consider myself a world expert in operating Grown-Ups (which sounds a bit bigheaded, I have to admit), I’m not always an expert at operating myself.
I’m not very coordinated. Or as Hannah would put it, I’m massively clumsy. I’m always tripping on the school bus, or bumping into people when I’m hurrying to my next class and dropping my books all over the floor.
And now that I’m a teenager I regularly have “curse of the giant spot” days, when I have to hide my pointy chin or my nose or whichever part of my face is afflicted behind my homework folder.
Finally, there’s my tendency to get myself into ridiculously embarrassing situations. For example, in my final year at elementary school I turned up in a costume for charity . . . one week early. I’m still majorly traumatized by the memory of myself in that clown costume--complete with revolving bow tie and giant shoes.
But that’s nothing compared with the way I seem to embarrass myself when I’m around one particular person. When he’s anywhere near me, I totally malfunction.
This is because I’m Officially in Love.
The lucky person (ha ha) is the unbearably, unbelievably gorgeous Ben Clayden, who doesn’t know that I exist despite the fact that me and Hannah constantly stalk him around the village and school. Hannah’s Officially in Love with him too, but we’ve agreed that in the--admittedly unlikely--event one of us gets him, the other will back off and become a bald, toothless nun who lives in the Himalayas.
Excerpted from Diary of a Parent Trainer by Jenny Smith. Copyright © 2012 by Jennifer Smith. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.