IT'S a warm, breezy Saturday morning, and you ask the Wolverine to hang the washing on the line.
Impatient, she clumps the clothes together so carelessly the wind can't get near them. By lunchtime they're still sopping.
Gritting your teeth, you re-do the lot.
Later, you ask her to bring them in.
She tears the washing off the line, scattering clothes-pegs in all directions.
In your calmest voice you request your almost-17-year-old to pick up the 100-or-so pegs now lying around the lawn and to please not do that any more.
Ohhhhh-kay, she says with exaggerated patience.
God, she mutters audibly, could you ever, like, just stop nagging her?
Sunday evening you ask her to put the bin out at the gate for the weekly refuse collection. Somehow the bin not only lands smack on top of your bright spring daffodils, breaking and crushing the stems, but coughs out a trail of tawdry garbage all the way down the garden path.
You yell at her to pick up the rubbish. You point out how long it takes daffodils to grow from a bulb -- months, you say. Consider, you plead, their relatively short lifespan. Shorter now, thanks to her.
Your eldest rolls her eyes and sighs.
She has, she says with asperity, more to be doing than worrying about a bunch of old daffodils and some empty tuna tins.
She has an important Transition Year project to do on child prostitution. She's supposed to write a poem on sex trafficking.
And by the way can she make herself some custard?
You sigh. Yes, you say, heading for the door and some paracetamol.
"Just tidy up after yourself."
When you return 20 minutes later, the empty kitchen is unrecognisable. Cupboard doors flap open. A trail of spilled milk and custard powder meanders across the worktop, the table and the floor.
The door of the microwave hangs open, displaying thick globs of dried custard which leer stickily from the revolving plate.
A pudding bowl thickly encrusted with heavy clumps of the stuff lies in the sink.
You grit your teeth. You call her. Then you lecture. You rant. You mention laziness, ungratefulness and sub-standard work. You highlight your daughter's inability to appreciate anything that is done for or given to her.
You work yourself up into such a fury of frustration and rage that your head pounds and your eyeballs bulge.
The Wolverine regards you with interest.
"God almighty Ma," she says, when you eventually run out of steam.
"I was only in the loo."
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