Sadly it’s not possible to obtain a GCSE, let alone an MBA, in the subject of parenting. Although if Ed Balls gets his way, school pupils aged 14 will have compulsory parenting lessons from 2011. Admirable idea – he also wants education about body image and moral dilemmas included in his new curriculum – but a few hours in PHSE won’t be anywhere long enough. Even if adults had Einstein’s grey matter, I doubt it would be a worthy adversary for a teenager’s brain cells. I try to remember how I felt in my late teens – being part adult, part child is not an easy stage – hormones raging (mine still are!), feeling restricted by parents’ rules, wanting freedom to experience life without any of the responsibility. Being the parent isn’t any easier. I know how it is to be the mother of a 17 year old, but now I am now attempting to learn how to parent an 18 year old. Every year brings different challenges, pleasures and disappointments. Teenagers often seem so selfish, intractable – and I think mobile phones have exacerbated this by allowing kids to constantly re-organise their arrangements. For parents this means that one minute you have six kids eating supper and staying the night, the next fourteen, and finally only three pitch up and then they bugger off for a pizza and sleep at someone else’s house. My brain gets frazzled with the constant changes, I just can’t keep up with the latest plan. Anyhow, winge over. My best decision recently was not to let my Son’s comings and goings get me hot under the collar. I am now Mrs. Super Chilled Mum. It has paid dividends – my Son is behaving beautifully (no need to buck the trend/be tricky now that I am so amenable) and I am stress-free because he is so gorgeous to be around now. So, my plan to cook Jamie Oliver’s gorgeous recipe for salmon, prawn and asparagus tray baketonight will go ahead (one of theJamie’s 30 minute meal programme on Channel 4) even though Son is unexpectedly going out now – he will just have to heat his portion up in the microwave when his iPhone battery runs out of juice and he has no other option but to come home!