27/06/2011 12:19 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Surviving Teenagers Or Why I'm No Good At Babysitting

Surviving Teenagers or Why I'm no good at babysitting Getty

My 16-year-old is miserable. She's promised to babysit for a family we know down the road. But she forgot that this is the weekend that everyone is out celebrating the end of exams. She's been invited to a party at her friend's house and really wants to go.

Normally she'd offer the job to one of her brothers. But the elder one is in Glastonbury and the younger one is out somewhere.

'I'll babysit for you,' I say.

She bites her lip in an agony of indecision.

'Won't they think it's a bit odd?' she says.

I have to handle this carefully. I am absolutely knackered. Last week there were endless goodbye parties at my son's school (he's leaving in a week's time), and I can think of nothing better than spending the evening sitting in someone else's clean and tidy sitting-room watching my choice of TV (i.e. no Top Gear or violent films about serial killers).

But I can't sound too desperate. Otherwise the whole thing might backfire and she might insist on going herself.

'It's my end-of-exams present,' I say. 'I'll do the job and you'll get the money.'

Eventually, with great courage, she makes the phone call. The family is fine about the last-minute change of personnel. Off she goes to her friend's house, smiling from ear to ear.

Later, equally smiley, I set off to babysit.

What I had forgotten, of course, is that I'm no good at remotes. There are three of them, all black and shiny. The lovely 11-year-old goes through it all and says goodnight. Twenty desperate minutes later, I call him down again.

Patiently, he runs through the whole thing a second time, and disappears back upstairs. It's late. I sit there miserably watching the only thing I can call up – a repeat of Nigella cooking peaches.

I text my 18-year-old. 'R u back?'

My 18-year-old comes over. Within seconds he's mastered all the remotes and has a choice of a million channels on the screen.

'You go home, Mum,' he says. 'I'll stay here till they get back.'

As I trudge back home, I think, teenagers rule the world.

These days, I can't even babysit.

Does this sound horribly familiar?
Do you struggle with other people's remotes when babysitting?