PARENTS

Surviving Teenagers: Like Something The Cat Dragged In

14/08/2014 16:46 | Updated 22 May 2015

Surviving Teenagers: Like something the cat dragged in

On Saturday I was in a strop. It's what comes of teenagers being a) large and b) untidy.

When toddlers are untidy, it's mind-boggling, but on a small scale. In an emergency, you can scoop the mess into a heap and hide it under a cushion.

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When teenagers are untidy, it takes over the whole house. HUGE piles of washing. GARGANTUAN shoes. MASSIVE coats.

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You close your eyes for a second and the sink is overflowing with dirty crockery. You clear the kitchen table only to turn round and find it strewn, once again, with rubbish.

And the weird thing is, they can't see it. Any of it. As far as they're concerned, we live in some kind of IKEA room set with everything in pristine order.

On Saturday, I'd had enough. I stomped around, falling over rucksacks and earphones, making my feelings clear.

"For once," I shouted, "it would be nice if someone else did some clearing up!"

At some point, in the eerily silent hour that followed, I thought I heard a commotion in the kitchen. Maybe, I thought, someone is emptying the dishwasher and has forgotten where to put the teaspoons. (Absurdly optimistic, I know. But it's so important, I feel, to live in hope.)

The commotion in the kitchen, it turned out, was the result of the cat struggling through the catflap with a small but indignant bird. I opened the kitchen door and stood there, open-mouthed. There were grey downy feathers everywhere. Blood on the ceiling. Long streaks of yellow poo on the walls.

"Where is it?" I said faintly.

"Dad caught it," said my daughter, "and took it outside and was wondering what to do with it when it pecked him on the hand and flew away."

That figures, I thought, as – for the 50th time that day – I picked up a J-cloth and a bottle of Cif. Ingratitude. I am surrounded by ingratitude.

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