Surviving Teenagers Or Who's In For Supper?


Years ago, family meals were easy. You knew who was in and who was out. Now it's anybody's guess.

During these long summer holidays with three teenagers coming and going like stand-up comics making brief and explosive appearances, I have no idea what's going on.

After a bit of trial and error, we've developed some sort of system. Every night, there are five plates of food. If you're not there to eat your share, you'll find it covered in foil and left on the cooker.

Of course this isn't foolproof. One night, I thought my younger son was at a friend's barbecue so divided the meal into four. Unfortunately, the barbecue didn't go according to plan – no one remembered to buy any food – so younger son returned home starving.

This meant that my eldest, coming back in the small hours, found nothing waiting for him but an empty plate and a screwed-up silver ball.

'He wasn't very happy,' said my younger son the following morning.

'What did he do?' I said, holding my breath. I felt responsible. Should I have set up some kind of spreadsheet and stuck it on the kitchen wall?

'Woke me up demanding food,' he said.

I looked at him, horrified. 'And what did you do?' I said.

'Told him to turn off the light,' he said.

But it gets worse.

Recently, my husband met up with an old mate from work. It happened to be an evening when all three of my teenagers were in. We ate together and I left out one foil-covered plate.

The following morning, the plate was still there.

'You didn't eat your supper,' I said to my husband.

He turned to me with an expression of extreme anguish.

'Oh,' he said, 'was that for me? I assumed it was for one of the boys.'

This is ridiculous