It’s a fine line. One minute I’m interfering, the next I don’t care.
Was it not ever thus?
She must have been about 12. For some reason I was working at home – in the days before it became a government diktat.
Beverley walked in through the front door, followed by the angelic children she’d collected from school. “Hello, boys,” I said. “How was your day?”
They grunted, walked past me and emptied the fridge.
No matter, here was my beloved daughter, just on the cusp of becoming a teenager.
“Hello, sweetheart,” I said. “How was your day?”
She stared at me. “Why don’t you just get out of my life? Why are you always interfering? Why do you keep asking stupid questions?”
She stormed upstairs. I looked helplessly at my wife. My ‘what did I do?’ expression.
“Hormones,” she mouthed at me.
Ah, I thought. I understand. Eleanor wants me to be cool, detached.
Fast forward 24 hours. The scene is played out once again.
“Hello, boys, how was your day?”
See above: grunt, fridge…
And my daughter. Remember. Cool, detached…
I smile. Nothing more.
She storms upstairs. Pauses halfway. Fixes me with her killer stare. “That’s right! You ask the boys how their day was! You don’t ask me! Because you don’t care about me! You’ve never cared!”
I looked helplessly at my wife. Yes, I used that expression a lot over the next few years.
And you can guess her reply. “Hormones…”
Well, fast forward a dozen years. A baker’s dozen. Hormones? I have no idea, because now she lives 60 miles away with Could-be-Serious.
…And I may have to give the boy a new name. When you’re buying a house together, maybe it’s a little bit more than ‘could be serious.’
Yep, my little girl, who barely five minutes ago was giving her four year old brother a whack to keep him in line, is buying her first house.
Otley, in West Yorkshire, where – the wheel turns full circle – my grandfather was born.
Found the house, got the mortgage, had the survey done: it’s proceeding at a pace. And – all credit to her – the deposit paid from her own savings. I couldn’t be more proud.
I just need to show the right level of interest…
I texted her during house hunting.
How’s it going, love? Found anywhere yet?
She replied to my wife…
Will you tell Dad to stop interfering? Always asking questions.
(Apparently I hadn’t factored in how stressful it all was.)
And then they found a house…
Why hasn’t Dad sent a text to congratulate us yet? Doesn’t he care?
Rewind 13 years. Clearly I have learned nothing at all.
But it’s all good. It keeps me on my toes.
And it’s a lovely house. First house? You couldn’t ask for anything more – especially the kitchen/dining room. One of the bedrooms is a touch pink – well, very pink – but that’s not a problem.
I’ll lose my wife to a weekend’s decorating. But beer, football, pizza…
No, no, not a problem at all.
And, of course, another rite of passage ticked off for the ageing parents. Nursery, proper school, big school, first boyfriend, serious exams, off to uni…
They’re rites of passage for your children but they’re rites of passage for mum and dad as well. And now she’s buying a house. Does that mean we can turn her room into an office? Will I finally be able to gaze lovingly at that hand-made desk? Bookmarked on Etsy for at least three years…
I’m not sure my lovely daughter can raise an objection. What about my wife?
It might be time for a cup of tea in bed…
THE RIVER RUNS DEEP
Bad people do good things.
Good people do bad things.
Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference…
The follow up to Salt in the Wounds is out now and available on Amazon