My daughter is going off to a music festival
. She's going with friends, they've got a tent, and she's 17. What could possibly go wrong?
Each time I open my mouth to mention any one of the things-that-can't-possibly-go-wrong, she says, "Mum, don't stress."
"I'm not stressing," I lie. "I just want to check that you've thought everything through."
She looks at me daggers.
"Like suntan cream," I say. "You don't want to burn."
As if that was at the top of my list.
This is the problem with having children. They grow up into teenagers who want to do weird and dangerous things. Why can't they settle for sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea watching re-runs of Doc Martin?
I sometimes think I'm not strict enough. I was watching the nail-biting Wimbledon final yesterday. There, on Centre Court, was Mummy Murray - an older version of Andy but with pearl earrings and a fierce expression.
Each time he got a point, she shook her fist, and mouthed, "Come on!"
I thought, I bet she never pussyfooted around vital issues. I bet the teenaged Andy never got away with anything.
I can see it now - up at 5am, raw steak for breakfast, pep talks with each cup of tea.
Most of us settle for a lot less.
"Will you send me a text?" I say. "When you get to the festival? Just so that I know you've got there safely?"
"Maybe," she says. "If I can get a signal."
I live in hope.
- It's so unfair
Used by girls aged 13 - 18 to describe almost anything - from having to get up in the morning to being asked by a teacher to unroll their school skirt to mid-thigh. Usually muttered under the breath when the offending adult is out of earshot.</p>
- When's tea?
Usually a very important question asked <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/07/11/surviving-teenagers-or-why-boys-eat-so-much/" target="_blank">repeatedly</a> throughout the afternoon from around 2pm onwards.</p>
- I ran out of credit
What teenagers say when you haven't been able to get hold of them all evening, even though they promised to stay in touch. Loosely interchangeable with 'I couldn't get a signal.'</p>
- I'm doing it
Standard response to any practical request, like "Could you get everything off the <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/09/05/surviving-teenagers-or-what-the-neighbours-saw/" target="_blank">floor</a> in your room so I can hoover it?". Always completely inaccurate description of what's actually going on (because he or she is, in fact, texting/watching TV/catching up on Facebook).</p>
- Can I have £10?
Why? Who knows. You have become a hole in the wall: as the parent of a teenager, that's your job.</p>
- Can you pick me up?
All teenagers know that their parents secretly want second jobs as taxi drivers. They do their very best to help them practise.</p>
- Don't worry
<span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt; ">General response to any nervous parent asking for more information about an all-night party/bad exam result/lost house keys/late coursework. Guaranteed to make any panicky adult <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/10/31/surviving-teenagers-worrying-if-they-ll-ever-get-jobs/" target="_blank">worry</a> even more.</span></p>