18/04/2011 18:14 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Surviving Teenagers Or Party! Party!

Surviving teenagers or Party! party! PA

When your children are small, you're a sheepdog, continually rounding them up and ushering them to safety. When you have teenagers, you're more like an air traffic controller. You have to make sure that everyone is taking off and landing in such a way that there aren't any major disasters.

This Easter, because of GCSEs and A2s on the horizon - which means that the teenagers will be 'revising' - the family will split up. I'm spending some time with my mum and dad, but there are a few days when the exam candidates will be staying in the family home alone.

I have visions of them starving. I can imagine coming home to withered apples in the fruit bowl, empty cereal packets, sour milk. I'll come back to skeletons petrified over revision timetables.

So I'm quite pleased when my eldest says, 'While you're away, I was thinking of having a barbecue.'

'Oh, yes?' I say.

'And maybe inviting a few friends,' he says.

In my mind, 'a few' means two. Maybe three at a push. 'How many people?' I say.

'About 20,' he says.


I am an air traffic controller who has lost the plot. In the sky above my head is a major air disaster. There is no safe landing. All I can see, in my mind's eye, are the smoking remains of what was once a family house with, at its burning heart, a charred, exploded barbecue.

'I'm not sure,' I say, heart pounding, 'that's such a good idea.'

I take it back. Living with teenagers is nothing like being an air traffic controller. It's like taking a defensive position and shooting enemy aircraft from the sky.