Getting your teenage children to help out around the house is a lot like herding cats. It takes up time, there’s a lot of frustration and enough colourful language to fill a dictionary.
For a few weeks now daughter #1 has done her own washing. She’s 16 next month and is planning on going to university. And, if she gets there, then the magic fairy who has washed, dried, ironed and then hung up her clothes in her wardrobe since 1999 won’t be able to help.
Sometimes it’s more trouble than it’s worth when daughter #1 puts our washing machine through a full cycle with just two T-shirts and a pair of jeans.
But even though it hurts us a lot more than it hurts her, we’re doing this for her own good. Because when the door to your room at uni shuts for the first time after mum and dad have dropped you off then you are on your own. And it’s terrifying.
Sure, you might live off Pot Noodle baguettes (surprisingly delicious) for three years but sooner or later you’re going to have to wash your clothes yourself.
Unless you do what I did and send it home with a friend who travelled back to Dalton-in-Furness every weekend and took my dirty washing with her on a Friday to drop off at my mum’s en route and brought it back clean and ironed on a Sunday night.
A sensational washing avoidance strategy employed by my then-girlfriend’s best friend was to buy dozens of packs of five-for-a-pound knickers and get them all washed by her mum after she picked her up at the end of each term. Like they say, it was acceptable in the 80s.
But the bar was raised last week when we told daughter #1 and her boyfriend that they were cooking dinner for us on Friday night – and no, beans on toast was not acceptable.
Turns out the boyfriend’s a dab hand in the kitchen and knocked up a delicious stir fry out of some chicken thighs, green beans, soy sauce and some noodles. We were impressed.
Daughter #1’s only job that I could see was to chop the chicken. And judging from her hysterical reaction at having to touch it raw, a career in medicine does not await.