Teenage strops and kicked off Converse. The wonders of family life – I wouldn’t swap it for anything. Even the tricky bits. The gut thumping anxiety or household moodiness, the laundry, especially the bits that were never worn but slipped back in the machine rather than put away, the music you tolerate thumping through the ceiling and vibrating your cup of tea, and the endless dirty pots.
If I want to poop a party, provoke door slamming or risk switching off a smile during an amicable dinner I just have to say the words ‘washing up’. Asking for help with the dishes creates such a sulk, usually behind closed bedroom door all evening, I at least get the settee to myself. And if ever there was a time when writing an essay looked really appealing to a teenager who normally hates it, it’s washing up time.
I circumnavigate the subject. I invent new ways of asking. I appeal to both their helpful side with social reasoning (!) and their bloody obstinate side with orders. And I’ve been known on occasions to indulge in a major tantrum and door slamming myself.
But underneath all these theatricals I am aware that this is only measured by having these lovely young people in my life to wash up for and this particular show will soon be over.
Contrasts in life are what flavours it, washing up included. And just like the night feeds, the terrible tantrums, the muddy knees and ripped clothing, the kiddies’ parties and strewn bedroom floors have disappeared with maturity, so too will the endless glasses on tables, in bedrooms and down the side of the settee. And along with it some of the vibrancy and effervescence that encircles family life with teenagers in it. I’m very aware of that. The dirty pots are signs of life I know I will miss when they are gone and the house is deathly tidy.
Who wants a home with no energy in it? Give me the dirty pots to fight over any day!