On a bad day, teenagers can make you feel like the manager of a badly run hotel.
"Who finished the nice bread?" asks my daughter.
"Oh," I say, timidly, "that was me."
Rage hangs in the air above her head, like a huge cartoon thought bubble.
Later in the morning, son number 2 appears, opens the fridge door, and stands there, shocked.
"There's no milk," he says.
"You could nip round to the corner shop," I say. He looks at me with a puzzled expression.
Basically, there are two problems here.
The first is that teenagers cannot believe that anyone, ever, should have to waste time doing any kind of household task. Meals and clean clothes should magically appear. Teenagers are baffled and sad when you point out to them that this ideal state of affairs does not exist.
The second problem is that all those years of looking after tiny children have left me feeling responsible. It's my job to make sure that everyone's happy.
If someone shouts, "Where are my black jeans?", it's my duty to know.
(I should also have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the whereabouts of bus passes, sports kit, phones, memory sticks, pink T-shirts and £10 notes.)
If someone's hungry, it's my job to provide food. If someone's upset, it's up to me to smooth things over. If someone's unwell, I need to find painkillers. If someone's tired, I need to find a duvet and a pillow. (However many times my teenagers tell me that their friends don't mind sleeping on the floor.)
So maybe it's not so much that my teenagers treat the house like a hotel. Maybe it's more that I treat myself like a chambermaid.
Perhaps I should go on strike until someone leaves me a tip.
Does this sound familiar?
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