London - Dear Malia Obama, first daughter of America, I want to thank you, not just for the eye-rolling (though that was the best bit) but for the crossed arms and curled lip too.
And high five for that slightly too-short skirt, nice touch: the icing on the cake of teenage contempt.
Malia, you made me feel so much better about my haphazard parenting skills last week and I realised that maybe I’m not a complete fool. Seeing you stand next to the leader of the free world treating him like a nincompoop means there is hope for us lesser mortals.
Moms-of-teens and pre-teens stop what you are doing right now and Google the US president’s Thanksgiving turkey pardoning speech in the company of his two daughters Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13.
Put your feet up and watch as the little devils look upon their dad with such boredom you can tell that just standing next to him is punishment enough, let alone having to hear what the idiot has to say.
He soldiers on in front of a global press corps quietly accepting that his beloved girls clearly credit ‘Mac’ and ‘Cheese’, the two turkeys he is talking about, with more intelligence than him.
They might as well have been wearing those ‘I’m with Stupid’ T-shirts, so obvious was their disdain for the proceedings.
God, it was refreshing to know that even if you have the power to blow up the world at the press of a button you are helpless against the tidal wave of teenage disrespect. You are still “my parent the nitwit” even in the Oval Office.
It’s possible Barack Obama locks himself in the White House’s Situation Room to rock back and forth whimpering after being caught in the glare of an adolescent stare, in the same way I hide in the loo after my eldest - about to become a teenager - tramples all over my self-esteem for some minor misdemeanour.
Once, I was foolish enough to offer to come and give a talk at her school’s fashion illustration club. She looked at me as if I was as mad as a bag of snakes. “What,” she said slowly for effect, “Would you know about fashion?”
I told her the last time I checked the spine of the magazine I edit it did say “World’s largest-selling fashion magazine”, but that cut no ice.
Her response when she found out I had nearly 86 000 followers on Twitter was one of outrage. “Why the hell are they following you?” she asked me, perplexed, adding: “I mean, who cares?”
I was even in trouble with her this week for forgetting to buy advent calendars (I did try to persuade a woman in the queue in Tesco to sell me hers because they are sold out everywhere now but she declined).
My pre-teen was cross: “It is December the 1st at the same time every year. How can you forget?” The irony of this from a 12-year-old who is regularly caught by surprise every time it is Monday, is staggering.
You’ve got to have skin as thick as that of the US President to parent a teenage girl, for the very moment those years loom into view you lose all authority. They simply don’t believe that you can do anything right.
Plus, every time you pick up a newspaper a parenting expert is explaining how you got it wrong before they even reached their teenage years, which unhelpfully chips away at your maternal confidence.
For example, this week I read that Professor Tanya Byron believes modern parents are too frightened to say “No” to their children and so by the time they get to their teens they couldn’t care less what mom and dad think at all.
She warned us that this new “parent-as-friend” phenomenon is dangerous and urged us to be firmer in those early years.
Thanks, Prof, for this helpful advice which requires time-travel to carry out.
Besides, I think you may have this friend bit wrong because I’ve noticed that trying to be my eldest’s friend has a splendid reverse psychology effect.
The more understanding and pally I am, the more infuriated she gets, and she will deliberately choose to do the opposite of whatever I’m doing.
Agreeing with her is my new tactic. Though mentally challenging for a woman who hasn’t had a proper night’s sleep for an entire decade, it is proving quite effective.
“I don’t see why you have to do homework either,” I said sympathetically yesterday. “Let’s just watch more TV, have another biscuit and sit on the sofa together.”
She raised an eyebrow and shot off to her bedroom, school book and pencil case in hand.
Perhaps I’m getting some things right. - Daily Mail
* Lorraine Candy is editor- in-chief of Elle magazine