Once you've got teenagers, it feels like you need two places to live – one for you and one for them.
This is because, if you're all crammed in together:
1. You can never get in the bathroom because there's always a teenager having a shower.
2. You will never have a tidy kitchen because there's always someone making a sandwich.
3. You will forever be falling over shoes in the hall.
4. There's never any room on the sofa.
5. You will regularly be woken from a deep sleep in the middle of the night by a teenager coming back from a night out.
I'm not saying it's easy for the teenagers either. I was reading Caitlin Moran's How To Be A Woman
recently. She grew up with five younger siblings in a small house and was a 13-year-old with no privacy at all. (Which made erotic exploration difficult – read Chapter One...)
Generally teenagers would be much happier if their parents lived in a shed at the bottom of the garden. Or, failing that, if the parents stayed in the house and the shed was given over entirely to teenage pursuits.
"They're in there with no heating?" I said to my neighbour last winter as we looked across her small back garden to an ancient shed lashed by wind and rain.
She nodded, mystified. On that occasion, there wasn't even any beer involved – just four 16-year-old boys and two large pizzas.
If you haven't got a shed, or you live in a flat, be thankful for technology. Round at my friend's recently, I glanced into the living room as I left. There, on his own, with laptop and headphones, was her 14-year-old son, happily playing an online game with a couple of other friends from school.
"He'd be there all night if we let him," she said.
Perfect. A teenager in a virtual world miles from the family home. At this rate, you might even be able to watch what you like on telly.