10/03/2014 12:25 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Surviving Teenagers: Why They Forgot Mother's Day

Mother and flowersGetty

On Mother's Day, I bump into my friend down the road. She has four teenage sons, the eldest away at university. "One out of four," she says. "He just rang. I said, and where are my flowers? I like to keep him on his toes."

At lunchtime, there's a text on my phone. My daughter is away on a French exchange organised by the school. She's rung home twice so far, sounding happy but tired. The family she's staying with is lovely. But the early mornings are a bit of a shock. The French school starts at 8am, so alarms are set for 6.30am.
"Which is the same at 5.30am English time," she says.

(It's a good job she can't see my expression. My mouth is hanging open. I don't think I've ever seen my daughter at 5.30am, let alone up and dressed and trying to have a conversation in French.)

So on Sunday, there's no daughter in the house. But she remembers what day it is. The text reads: "Happy Mother's Day. Miss you. Xxx"

And my boys? Son no. 1 and son no. 2? Is the house full of flowers? Is the mantelpiece groaning under the weight of carefully chosen cards?

Later that afternoon, I bump into my friend again. She's beaming from ear to ear. "Four out of four!" she says. "The phone call this morning, and now three homemade cards with lovely messages!"

"Oh," I say, trying not to sound sad.
Because it doesn't matter. Of course it doesn't matter that my boys have forgotten.
Except it does.

My friend's husband looks a bit shifty.
"Well, I did remind them," he says.

Light dawns. This is the secret. This is how you get teenage boys to come over all artistic, to rush off to the florist for a bunch of daffodils, to make you a cup of tea and tell you to sit on the sofa with your feet up.
You remind their father to remind them.

Did your children forget?