In the days before my offspring had reached their teenage years, I used to read the infamous 'Living with teenagers' column and think to myself, 'Ha! My children will never be like that'. Well 'Ha bloody Ha' is all I can say to that thought now. Admittedly they are not quite as rude and don't swear quite so much, but other than they, they are becoming horribly similar.
It doesn't help that we've inherited a spare teenage nephew so we're now up to three. And the husband and I are feeling decidedly outnumbered. This also means that there are now six of us sharing a bathroom. The mornings see the girls spending at least an hour in there before they emerge, immaculate, to face the rigours of a day at school. Hair is done, eyebrows tweezed, nails manicured and subtle make up carefully applied. The husband and I meanwhile, are lucky if we manage to get in there for long enough to clean our teeth. The small son is not really a problem; I just chase him into the bathroom once a day and scrub him from head to toe. The teenage nephew requires the same treatment but it seems rather inappropriate so I resort to snarling, 'Go and clean your teeth. NOW.' It doesn't help that he refuses to wear underpants. He sees this as being anti-capitalist. I see it as being rather gross. And it seems doubly ironic as I have only just got the small son to a stage where if he dresses himself, he actually remembers to put his own underpants on.
The girls are both now the same size as me and have taken to wearing my clothes. This means that finding anything that is both clean and that I want to wear, has become a daily challenge. I've taken to storing my clothes in the office as all under 18's are banned from there. Given the bathroom situation, I also tend to get dressed in there. However there are no curtains so I am forced to do this in the dark or risk scaring 'les voisins' opposite.
The amount of food they get through is unbelievable. The weekly shop now requires at least two able bodied people. And a suitcase full of cash. And despite the mountains of food that come into the house, there is still never anything left in the fridge. The washing machine is on day and night and the family car should be renamed 'the taxi'.
All of this isn't anything new, as parents of teenagers everywhere will testify. So I shouldn't moan especially as ours are (sometimes) helpful, funny and appreciative. And at least they all still want to be cuddled....