The trouble with teenagers is that they question everything. Nothing is sacred.
"Can I put your sheets in the wash?" I say to my daughter.
"Why?" she says.
Where do I begin? The ink splots? The coffee stains? The mud? (Rain + warm bed = cat paw prints all over the duvet.)
We have a lively discussion about my obsession with cleanliness
. This is not new. Apparently even stacking the dishwasher is a sign of OCD.
Sometimes I wish I could be like Aggie Mackenzie and whip out a petri dish teaming with bacteria.
Later, we ring student son. I put him on speaker phone.
"How are you?" I say.
"I'm OK," he says. "I'm trying to work out whether to go out tonight. I don't know. Party
"Library," I say.
"Party," says my daughter.
"Library," I say, more loudly.
It seems to me that there's altogether too much partying going on these days. When I was a teenager, I was allowed out once a week on a Saturday night. And my father was always waiting outside in the car at 10pm.
"Or maybe," says my son, "I could take my books to the party."
"Or take the party to the library," says my daughter.
I give up. No one is taking this seriously.
Sunday draws to a close. I think I've just about got everyone ready for the week to come. Outside it's cold and rainy.
"Thank goodness for Downton Abbey," I say to my daughter as I trudge up the stairs with a pile of clean towels.
She opens her mouth to speak.
"Downton Abbey," I say very fiercely. "And I don't want to hear another word."
- 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>