SOME weekends my lounge room resembles base camp at Mt Everest - bodies, sleeping bags and rubbish everywhere.
Gone are the days when my youngest's friends would drop over for an afternoon play date. Ah yes, those where simpler times. The "best friend of the week" would visit, watch a Barbie video, spill a plastic cup of milk on my carpet, chip a tooth on overcooked fish fingers for lunch and be collected two hours later never to be seen again.
Those days are gone and I still haven't worked out if the lack of repeat visits from those little playmates was because of my youngest's ever-changing "best friends forever" list or because of the fish finger fiascos.
Since my youngest turned 13, play dates are now sleepovers. These all night marathons are major productions and don't ask me why she calls them sleepovers because nobody, and I mean nobody, is getting any sleep even the dog looks ready for re-hab after one of these nights.
It all starts innocently enough. She invites a few girlfriends over and they put a rinse-out-in-seven-day purple colour in each other's hair because "mum, purple is so the new blonde". Only trouble is this always happens two days before school photos and I'm the one standing red-faced at the doorstep at collection time explaining to half a dozen mothers why their daughters look like midget Dame Ednas.
And you can forget serving half-cooked frozen hash browns and soggy sausage rolls to the snooty 13-year-old crowd. These little divas expect hand-rolled sushi on designer dishes. This is a big ask from a household where the three-second rule is interpreted as if food falls off a plate and you can get to it before the dog does, it's still edible. Again, I'm pretty sure my lack of enthusiasm and under delivery in the culinary department could cost my youngest some friendships. Apparently Britney's mum makes mushroom and fennel quiches with free range capsicums for garnish. Obviously the poor woman has never heard of Papa Giuseppe.
On the up side I don't have to watch this age group quite so vigorously. If the other mothers have been doing their jobs right these kids should know you don't run with scissors, you don't put any part of your anatomy on a stove top, you're too old to shove Lego up your nose or anybody else's and hellooo - you better know how to put on a band aid 'cos I can't drive to casualty after a couple of chardys.
Last weekend base camp had set up again in my lounge room. I went through the whole charade of, "Oops sorry girls we just ran out of organic tofu and hydroponic lettuce but knock yourselves out on the preservative-packed MSG-loaded corn chips, fish fingers and deep fried battery chicken wings instead."
I thought all went well considering. No one got food poisoning, no one was arrested or tattooed and to the best of my knowledge no one posted anything incriminating on YouTube.
My youngest, however has a different take on last weekend's sleepover. She still hasn't forgiven me for what she calls the "mortifying incident".
I've narrowed it down to one of two things - either I'm in trouble for walking down the hallway forgetting I was wearing nothing more than nana knickers and bed hair for my 4.30am trip to the loo or it's because I forget to serve tomato sauce with the fish fingers. Yep. I bet it was those crumby fish fingers that got me in trouble again.