Surviving Teenagers Or Why Do Mine Sleep So Much?

30/03/2011 11:35 | Updated 22 May 2015

The first of a new weekly column...

At weekends, my teenagers sleep through breakfast. They sleep through lunch, too. They would probably sleep through tea too and become completely nocturnal, like glow worms, if hunger didn't wake them.

I fling back the curtains. I clatter about with the hoover. I poke the cat - curled up on my 17-year-old's duvet - so that he sinks his teeth into the nearest ankle. But they sleep on regardless, as if the daylight hours were meant for dreaming.

The simplest option, of course, would be to leave them alone. But I can't. I pretend it's for their own good. They shouldn't be lying there, I think crossly, sleeping their lives away. They should be outside in the fresh air, taking in huge lungfuls of London pollution. Or wide awake, revising Maths.

After all, I've been up since six. I've mown the lawn, been to Sainsbury's and put out the washing. I would have done all this whether or not there were teenagers lying like logs in the upstairs bedrooms, but their complete stillness - like stone effigies in a cathedral - makes my frantic activity even more heroic.

I'm working my fingers to the bone, I think, as I squirt Limelite round the taps. I don't care what scientists say about teenage body clocks (wide awake to watch horror films at 1am, but strangely morose over Shreddies at 7am). I just don't want to be the only one in the house rushing around like a trapped bluebottle.

We went to see old friends at the weekend who have a nine-year-old son. (We left the teenagers sleeping.) 'It must be great for you these days,' said Roger wistfully. 'You can have a lie-in whenever you want.'

That's when I realised why the blissful dreams of teenagers make me so mad. I'm jealous. I can't sleep late any more. They spent years training me to respond to terrifying emergencies - nightmares, lost teddies, projectile vomiting. So now the tiniest disturbance - the milkman, a crow, sunlight - has me sitting bolt upright, heart pounding.

And if I can't enjoy a lie-in, I don't see why anyone else should.

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