'Mum of four seeks counselling to survive seventeen year old twins'. Imagine that in an agony aunt's column. Someone must have written it, surely?
Well here we are. The twins (numbers 3 and 4 for new readers) are seventeen today. Adorable, sociable, well-motivated (and that's just me!), they are a pleasure most of the time when they're not grunty, grumpy, unreasonable and gobby. And outside in the yard there is a gleaming, fully-airbagged, not-too-nippy car ready for them to learn to drive. Lucky them! I have felt the need to remind all my children that no such new car greeted my seventeenth birthday morning and even though they are sharing, they are very fortunate!
I do, however, remember the other two reaching their seventeenth birthdays and, more particularly, the process of them learning to drive. Number 1, who was just about to enter her 'wild child' phase, was exceptionally challenging because, in order to hear what I (in the passenger seat, gripping door handle with one hand and the hand brake with the other) was saying, she had to take her eyes off the road to lipread - unless I shouted, which I did, a lot. On the morning of her test, she drove to school with me in the front and her three siblings in the back and managed to lodge the car on the stone gatepost of the school. Through gritted teeth, I told all of them politely to get out of the car whilst I managed to reverse the vehicle off the aforementioned gatepost in front of a crowd of students, teachers and parents. Later in the day, number 1 texted me to say that she had passed her test. Words failed me...
Then number 2, always in a hurry with life (she has unfortunately inherited my impatient streak) always drove too fast, was determined to pass her test first time like her sister and turned into our lane far too quickly with me (gripping on both sides as per usual) shouting to her to slow down. We nearly made it round the bend ... but not quite. She went on to pass her test first time as well.
So, imagine my utter delight when our dear Irish friend in the village announced that he had enjoyed teaching his two daughters to drive and he would happily take the twins out practising. My gratitude to Declan O'Kidney knows no bounds! And number 4's godmother has also offered and she can remember what the first two were like so she is probably aware of the terror in store.
There is, of course, the possibility that I am just rubbish at being their co-pilot/driving instructor (although getting two through their tests first time may suggest this is not the case...) but I am more than relieved that I probably won't have to do too much of the white-knuckle stuff this time.
So, if you are out and about on the roads of North Yorkshire and you see a rather smart (currently), black Kia with L-plates: dive in the hedge, park up off the road and breathe deeply whilst thinking sympathetically about the adult in the passenger seat with nerves of steel.
Yes, these two - but not the one in the middle, obviously!