Surviving Teenagers: The Morning After

Surviving Teenagers: The Morning After


It's Friday night. Some very old friends come over. They live miles and miles away, so we haven't seen them for years. We start reminiscing. We also start drinking. Quite a lot. Everyone's going to stay the night, so no one's got to rush home.

My teenaged daughter, who is recovering from a cold, wanders into the kitchen to say hello. She is pressed into staying. She sits down.

Oh dear. I forget she's there.

"Who was there that weekend?" someone says, trying to remember a party years ago.

"Charlie was there," someone says. "I know Charlie was there because he set fire to the chairs."

The stories come thick and fast. All the terrible tales from our misspent youth – practical jokes that went wrong, walks to the pub in the pitch dark, arguments, reconciliations, celebrations. These are the edited highlights.


We are laughing so much we can hardly breathe. And then, when I look up, my daughter is staring at me with huge eyes.


"You're hearing all the worst bits," I say, desperately. "We weren't out partying every night. We were all working hard, of course. All through our twenties. Saving money. Making sure we did our jobs properly. You're just hearing about a few wild nights."

She nods slowly. I can see she doesn't believe a word of it.

Eventually she goes upstairs to bed. We stay up until the early hours.

In the morning, head thumping, I creep downstairs. On the table is a crowd of empty bottles. On top of them is a note from one of our friends who stayed the night but had to get up early.

It's addressed to my daughter. It reads: "Hope your cold is better. Sorry you had to learn the dreadful truth about your parents."

Oh, the shame. I pick up a J-cloth and start clearing up.