The list of jobs that we undertake as parents is infinitesimal. In the early years, from baby through to pre-teen it is natural that the list should be relatively long, but once the teenage barrier has been passed there is an expectation (or at least there was in my case) that the load will lighten slightly.
The reality, however, is that as each life stage is passed on a child's journey to emerging as a teenager, the jobs you thought you had ticked off never to see again, are given a revamp and relaunched with a new name and job description attached. Here are my Top 10....
- Hotel Manager - previously known as the Housekeeper, the new role of the mother is as Hotel Manager. This requires her to be ready to take a request for a room in her home cum hotel at any time of day or night and invariably at short notice. She must be ready to welcome the guests when they arrive and show them to their rooms where they can be assured of a proper bed and fresh linen - a sleeping bag on the floor is unacceptable!
- Nutritionist - no establishment worth its salt nowadays would be complete without an in-house Nutritionist on hand to cater for the varied requirements of its guest's palettes. It is no longer enough to make sure you are meeting the 5 a day target. The teenagers of today are very particular about what they eat and you are expected to be able to handle whatever they throw at you....vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, no dairy, no gluten, low sugar, low fat...every eventuality must be covered, even if this means preparing more than one type of meal at a sitting.
- Chambermaid - a step above the cleaner, this involves a multitude of room management tasks including bed making, laundry collection and sorting, removal of general detritus, general tidying, filing of discarded exam revision notes and if you are strong enough the lifting and re-positioning of a multitude of gym equipment.
- Valet - once the humble laundry machine operator and supervisor, the job of the Valet is to handle not just the laundry washing but also the dry cleaning, now that they have moved from Teflon only coated fabrics to the grown up substitutes of suede and leather. This role also requires someone who is flexible and willing to handle any manner of wardrobe hazards whether basic stain removal, mending torn garments, sewing on buttons or polishing shoes that have been used as replacement football boots.
- Personal Shopper - working closely alongside the Valet, the Personal Shopper is personally responsible for searching out the "must have" wardrobe items of the teenage season. This requires someone with a mix of good keyboard skills and a PayPal account in the event she needs to scour the internet for that elusive pair of Nike Air Max in just the right shade of black and pay for next day delivery. On occasion the job may also demand the mother abandons her personal plans and travels to collect certain items, particularly if there is a party or a date night on the horizon.
- Chauffeur - the humble taxi driver ferrying your children from one after-school club to the next is a thing of the past. The position of chauffeur requires complete and utter dedication and selflessness on the part of the mother. She must be prepared to abandon her own plans to have a good time on a Saturday night and not only drive the teenager and his or her mates to a party, but to find somewhere local to "hang out" and wait to bring them home.
- Psychotherapist - in the bygone baby and toddler era this was the hug and kiss expert. Now don't get me wrong, nothing beats either in terms of making your child feel better BUT hit the teenage years and it is all about providing another dimension of parental care which involves a lot of talking, discussing and providing advice on all manner of things from what to wear, through dream analysis to friendship issues. Diplomacy is essential, as woe betide you if you say the wrong thing.
- Sport Supporter - the former chief cheerleader on the side of the pitch, it is now a formal requirement to simply observe and support discreetly from a distance. Teenager No.1 is a mean cricketer and in my dreams, he is the future Stuart Broad, but I am not allowed to turn up and watch him with enthusiasm, I have to do it quietly in a deck chair with a bottle of wine. The latter part of the deal is fine but the golden rule is that it is not cool to cheer! In the teenage years that is frowned upon.
- Umpire - this is more than being a mediator and requires someone with significant resilience and negotiating skills. Here's a taster to give you an idea! "Mum, I need to clean my teeth and she is still in the shower". "Mum, I was watching Britain's Got Talent and he has switched to Geordie Shore!" "Mum, he has stolen my stapler again!" " Mum, he has not charged his Ipad and has taken mine". "Mum why do her friends have to make so much noise?"
- PA - the days of organising play dates disappear as soon as they enter secondary school, but what they do need is someone to keep on top of all the events related to school, university, sport or work experience, liaise with everyone as necessary and manage their diaries accordingly and of course like any good PA, find time each day to report back.
- Beauty Therapist - I have left the best until last and the one that fills me with the most dread every week. For this you need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of every skin complaint known to man. It is not enough to say "It's your hormones, don't worry about it, it will pass!" Nowadays you need to be able to identify immediately (sometimes without your glasses on) the root cause of the problem and present a solution in the shape of a magic cream. On occasion you may also be required to act as a personal make up artist.
Please let me know if you can think of any more!