My son is twelve. My mum is ninety-two. One second I've got my son explaining the finer points of a video game, or how to create and maintain ant farms as learnt from a YouTube video, and next I'm on the phone listening to my mum's latest tale of woe about her careworkers.
It's my fault. With my tendency to fall for commitment phobics and confirmed bachelors, it's a wonder I ever became a mother at all. And I'm not complaining - I love being a mum, and I'm lucky my own mother has lived to such a grand age.
But I can't lie, it can be challenging.
Though sometimes I think there isn't that much difference between a twelve-year-old and a ninety-two year old. Both can be pretty self-obsessed, albeit about extremely different things. Both can be badly-behaved too.
Recently, my son has been stressed by end-of-term tests and friendship issues and taking it out on me.
And my mum?
Well, on account of her rudeness, she's been given two weeks notice from her care providers. Yes, they want to ditch her because she's just too cantankerous for them. My brother was indignant about it, but I wasn't surprised. Maybe she's on her best behaviour with my brother. Unfortunately, I've been forced to cringe countless times when she's just come right out and said exactly what she's thinking to waiters, shop workers, my partner's mother, my partner, me... all completely uncensored, with a world-beating scowl to back it up. So, I totally got what they were saying.
Not that this helps. Empathy is all very fine, but it doesn't help my ninety-two year old mum to get dressed and showered in the mornings, or her food cooked at night while I live two hours drive away.
My brother managed to negotiate a last-ditch trial to see if things can improve. So, my mum and I had a long talk. And even though she has no concept that she has been rude or unpleasant, Mum's going to make a big effort to be pleasant, and not to expect her meals to be Michelin Star quality. She's also going to try to be friendly and interested in her carers as people. 'But I don't like being smarmy,' she protested. I tried to explain that smarmy and friendly were two different things, and I really hope she can pull it off.
As for my son, the tests are over. He has an old friend round. They're playing with their Beyblades and listening to music. The Christmas holidays are round the corner and this morning I even got him to make his own breakfast. Sorted.