30/03/2011 07:40 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Surviving Teenagers Or Why You Can't Understand What They're Saying

Surviviving Teenagers: can't understand what they are saying Teenagers have their own language. Even if you try to learn it, you're doomed, because all the words keep changing. (The Duchess of Cornwall said the news of Will's engagement was 'wicked'. I think that's circa 2005, but full marks for trying.) Basically, you only need one YouTube clip to change teenage communication completely. It is, as they say, viral.

Some words stick. The highest form of praise my student son can bestow is still that something's 'sick'. I really hate that. For some reason, I get a mental picture of a pile of vomit, which doesn't, somehow, get me on to his wavelength.

Teenage slang is also incredibly local. In London, you may half-understand a 15-year-old in SW2, but be completely at sea in N7. If you got all the teenagers in the UK together, it would be like the European parliament - a babble of mutual incomprehension.

In the middle of all this, a parent hasn't got a chance - especially once you add in a dollop of teenage sarcasm.

'How was school?' you say.

'Great,' says my 16-year-old.

'Great?' I say, delighted.

And then you see the world-weary expression.

Sometimes I don't hear the words at all. This may be because nothing is audible in the kitchen over the perpetual thump of the washing machine. Or perhaps my middle-aged hearing is less acute. But sometimes, at breakfast, after I've said, 'Sorry?' three times, I try to relay back what I think I've heard.

'The lama's up the kettle in Neasden?' I say helpfully.

This, of course, always backfires.

'Never mind,' says my 17-year-old, feathers ruffled.

Well, at least I understood that one.

Read our Teen Talk article here.