A reassuring word to fellow-parents. I've had four children, and it has been difficult sometimes.

Take my phone, for instance - what used to be my phone. My children's use of the phone was prophesied in the bible. Jeremiah, chapter twelve, verse six : "They have called a multitude." Nothing about who's going to pay for it, though...

I picked the phone up one day and a voice said, "Hello, this is Marcia. Jackie wants to know if Steve's round Belinda's."

I said, "I've never heard of any of you - except Steve, and he lives here."

Or I thought he did, because next time the phone went it was Steve asking for George. I said, "George doesn''t live here - you live here!"

Then I heard George's voice on the stairs saying, 'Oh, is that Steve, Mr. Plass? He said to wait in his room and he'd call me."

Teenagers puzzle me.

One lad said once, really politely, "Err, Mr. Plass, please may I use the phone?"

I said, "Yes, of course."

So then he dialled a number, and said, "Hello - is that Mum? Mum - look, I wanna stay out a bit longer.... well, why not? All the others are.... yes, all the others are. Well, why can't I? I hate you!"
Then he slammed the phone down, turned to me, and said, just as politely, "Thanks ever so much."

Puzzling, isn't it?

Seriously, I adore my kids, but it can be tricky - the phone's only a bit of it - and sometimes I've felt a failure as a parent, but if you want to pause for one constructive thought today - try this. My oldest child is nearly twenty-nine and the youngest is an old lady of sixteen, so I'm learning this a bit late, but I'm sure it's true - what your children want is not a good mother or a good father, what they really want and need - is you.