When my babies were toddlers I longed for the teenage years. They would be able to make their own food, I wouldn’t have to get a babysitter, I would know what I was doing and I wouldn’t have to wipe their bottoms.

Well, all three of them are teenagers now and let’s see:

Making their own food – Kinda. If I’m happy to see them survive on toast and 9p noodles from Sainsbury’s, then we’re sorted. Fruit and vegetable consumption is zero, unless cooked by me (and hidden in soup or thick gravy). They can even be a bit dicky on the toast. Rather too much of the “Muuuum… if you really loved me you’d make me some toast” going on. Get a grip, fellas.

No need for a babysitter – Hmmm. In theory, no need. In practice… well, let’s just say I don’t like to go out and leave them for too long. And if, by any chance, I have to go off for the day leaving Firstborn in charge, I leave a list of phone numbers as long as my arm, to cover all eventualities, taped to his forehead.

Knowing what I’m doing – No, not really. Working blind here, in many ways. I trust my instincts more than I did when they were babies, and I’m better at shutting out unwanted advice (spoken or implied) than I was. But that doesn’t stop many many people from saying You Must Put Your Foot Down, or He Needs To Learn That Actions Have Consequences. It’s doing my head in, to be honest. Why can’t people have more faith in my babies? I have faith in them. I don’t think Firstborn is a total dropout, even if he has left Sixth Form too early for my liking. None of them are stupid – I don’t breed stupid children – so I’ll have a less of the YOU MUST, thank you, and a bit more of You Poor Love, Let Me Hold Your Hand and Feed You Biscuits While You Rant It Out Of Your System.

Wiping their own bottoms – Thank God. That’s one thing I’ve got right as a mother.

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