Surviving Teenagers: A Very Guilty Mother


Belongings get very muddled when you have teenagers. Socks, for example. My husband is forever looking for favourite pairs that disappeared long ago into the general muddle of his sons' bedrooms.

"I really liked those grey ones," he says, mournfully. He sighs deeply. "I don't suppose I'll ever see them again."

Most of the stuff I can't find has usually found its way into my daughter's room. She wanders off with all sorts of things - combs, tweezers, nail scissors.

So recently, when I couldn't find a favourite black T-shirt, I was convinced she was the culprit.

"Are you sure you haven't got it?" I said. "Really sure?"

"I haven't seen it," she said.

Neither of us mentions the impossibility of seeing anything in her room. You'd need to burrow into heaps with a torch like someone exploring an underground cave.

But, as it turned out, she was entirely innocent.

Our small black cat, as my daughter often points out, costs us a fortune. She breaks things. So far she has broken a computer keyboard, the iron, a china vase, a flower pot and her leg. The vet's bills were huge.

Recently she came home with fleas.

"You have to hoover everywhere," said the vet's assistant as she handed over anti-flea products and took yet more money off my debit card.

So on Saturday afternoon, when everyone was out, I started cleaning. This wasn't my normal slapdash routine but a kind of military-style operation, getting into corners I hadn't seen for


I really didn't want to spend the rest of the summer scratching flea bites on my ankle.

Under the chair in our bedroom, in a tight ball of grey fluff, was my favourite black T-shirt.

"I found my T-shirt!" I shout with joy when they all get home. "My favourite black T-shirt!"

"Where was it?" says my daughter.

I take a deep breath. I open my mouth to admit that I was guilty all along.

But my husband interrupts.

"And what about my socks?" he says, a small light of hope in his eyes. "Did you find my socks?"