They may remind you strongly of the adorable tiny babies you brought home long, long ago. But teenage girls are a breed apart. No longer children, not quite adults, they lurch around somewhere in the middle, usually crashing into things and blaming you because it’s soooo your fault. Hey, they didn’t ask to be born, did they? Here’s a handy guide to spotting whether you have a teenage girl in your midst:
1.The days when you got an unimpeded view of a mirror are long gone. Whenever you try something on, there is a gorgeous, gazelle-like creature in the way, saying, ‘do you think my hair looks better like this?’ Grr. It looks fabulous whatever she does with it.
2. She toys with her food, then says, ‘Mum, you know when you’re condemned to death? And you get to have whatever you like as your last meal? Can you make sure I don’t get this, please?’
3. Every second word is, like, like. And you can’t, like, ever have a conversation without, like, a question at the end? Like, ever? Unless, you know, it’s like, ‘whatever’ – which is usually the prelude to a slammed door.
4. You give the girl a ten pound note to get a disposable camera for a school trip. You get 1p change – and a lot of door-slamming ‘whatevers’ when you mildly remind the girl that their phone does already have a camera on it.
5. The only time they really notice you these days is when you embarrass them. And you embarrass them whenever you breathe outside the house.
6. You are still capable of inspiring one other emotion – pity. As when you show them an episode of Mr Ben, a favourite show from your childhood. ‘Mum, I had no idea TV shows were like, so tragically sad in the olden days?’ Grrr.
7. Out on a shopping trip, you ask if the teenager would like you to look after her purse. ‘Muuum, I’m not, like three years old, like, am I?’ Fine, you say, that’s great you’re taking some responsibility. An hour later, she’s lost the purse. ‘You made me go into that shop, Mum, like to buy your sad old sheets. If you hadn’t, like, done that, I’d still have my purse, wouldn’t I?’
8. Your own words start coming back to haunt you. Out for a walk, you remark it’s getting chilly. ‘Well, Mum, you should have, like, soooo worn your big coat, shouldn’t you?’ says the teenager, snugly wrapped up for once.
9. Her friends’ parents suddenly degenerate into boho hippy types who let anything go, while you run the most uptight, ridiculous regime since the Stasi. ‘Muuuum, Louise’s mum is letting her have all her friends round to go on their own to Oxford Street then go on to a nightclub and then just hang out at her place while her parents are away for the weekend. Can I, like, go?’ Er, let me think about that one for a nanosecond. No.
10. Your new top, which was called unbelievably sad, lame, way too yuck and designed by a sadist when you bought it, is suddenly, mysteriously missing from your wardrobe, just at the moment when the girl slams out of the house on her way to meet friends at Pizza Express. ‘Don’t you dare get any tomato on my top!’ you yell, only to receive the traditional fond farewell from your daughter. ‘Whatever!’