26/03/2012 17:11 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Surviving Teenagers: Asking For Help

Clearing up mess Getty

It's Saturday. I skid into the kitchen, arms full of dirty washing. I've got to rush to the shops – there's nothing in the fridge but Philadelphia covered in green mould and half a packet of rotting rocket.

All three of my darlings are lounging about, chatting.
"Do you think," I say to my younger son, who happens to be in my line of sight, "you could empty all the bins?"

Emptying the bins is a bit of an art these days, as we have to separate all the rubbish out – stuff for recycling, stuff for composting, and stuff that no one has any use for at all. The binmen are very strict. You have to put a mouldy carrot in the right place.

I'm all for saving the environment. But, on a practical level, it's very time-consuming.

"All the bins?" he says.
"You know what I mean," I say, bending down to put a dirty cup in the dishwasher, which is nearly full, yet again. "Take it from the bins inside, and put it in the bins outside."

There's a small silence.
"All the bins?" he says.

I look up and realise that the other two are grinning in wild delight because they've somehow escaped being asked to do anything.

"Yes," I say, sounding rather short. My younger son, after all, didn't get up until midday and seems to have done nothing since then but eat cereal.

"And after you've emptied all the bins," says my eldest, still grinning from ear to ear, "you could maybe cut the lawn? With your teeth? Nibbling each blade of grass?"

"Re-paint the ceilings?" says my daughter. "Re-wire the whole house?"

I straighten up. "I'm not asking for the impossible," I say, indignantly.
"Of course not," says my younger son. "And maybe afterwards I could bring about world peace."

Guffaws of laughter. Ha ha! Ha ha!
Sometimes I think it's easier just to do it myself.