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'Team-building' exercises are certainly not what they used to be!

You had deep reservations about the concept of Transition Year, based primarily on damning reports from friends who'd been to the frontline.

However, a parents' meeting with the headmistress back in September convinced you to give it a chance.

Your daughter would mature, you were told. She would become independent, self-motivated and focused on the future.

Volunteer work in the community would broaden her horizons, while the two-week work experience built into the programme would provide practical insight into a potential career.

To date, the Wolverine's done some debating, some drumming, some singing, some dancing and a bit of yoga. There have been projects on everything from the cultures of South America and Africa to slave labour, clothing sweatshops and famous people.

Yet gossip glossies remain her literature of choice -- a magazine without the face of a celebrity on the cover, or a newspaper, are alien items best left to the boring and grey-haired.

She tells you she has homework but you never see her doing any -- she spends most evenings on the phone to her friends planning what she's going to wear when they go out at the weekend.

She participated in a bit of fund-raising for charity and did a few stints in a retirement home until an oul' fella patted her bum -- that, needless to say, was the end of that.

Organising her work experience has to date involved requesting you to ask your friend the beautician whether the Wolverine can pass away the required number of days at the salon nail-bar.

Though, as you pointed out in pained tones, it's not entirely clear how that will help to inform her about cardiac surgery, her latest career choice and, you suspect, one largely inspired by 'Scrubs'.

One Friday night the Wolverine bounces home in high spirits. She has won a prize in school, she announces. Your husband straightens up, determined to show how impressed he is with these latest efforts.

At last, you can see him thinking, some real focus and maturity. He asks what she won.

"Well," she says modestly, "they had these people in to do self-development stuff with the Transition Year students." Your husband nods earnestly.

"See, part of it was team-building activities. One of the games involved seeing how many Jaffa cakes you could get in to your mouth at the same time," -- and the Wolverine managed seven!

As she demonstrates her award-winning technique -- opening her mouth extremely wide and explaining how to shove the biscuits in until they touch her tonsils -- your husband quietly leaves the kitchen, a speechless and defeated man.

Health & Living