I’m sitting in the car alone, waiting for everyone else. It’s a familiar scene and one which, oddly, still surprises me.
My daughter emerges first.
“Where is everyone?” I ask.
“Apparently you said we were leaving at 6.15”
“It’s 6.14”, I say.
Beth looks at me with a tight smile and raised eyebrows before looking down at her phone.
“If I were leaving at 6.15 I’d be ready at 6.10 latest” I add.
“5.10 more like,” she says, not even slightly under her breath.
That morning I’d been walking with my sister in the park while she was telling me about friends who are having difficulty with their teenage children.
“They are permanently uncommunicative and sullen, apparently. Hanging around with a bad crowd too,” she says.
“Isn’t that just what teenagers do?” I ask, realising that mine weren’t like that at all.
My son has been with his girlfriend for seven years and he’s only twenty. He didn’t have time to hang around with the wrong crowd because he was too busy hanging around with the right girl.
My daughter has had her moments but nothing that I would look back on and describe as an ongoing cause for deep concern.
They’ve both been delightful company more than anything else.
I begin to wonder if I’m more laid back and tolerant than I thought I was but I remind myself that I had an emotional breakdown in their formative years so it might be that they just learned how to manage without me. Maybe they thrived better without some of what I would have taught them and perhaps the worst of me hasn’t rubbed off on them. That and the fact that their mother did such a good job of being a parent and providing a continuity that I couldn’t.
Arriving at the cinema we’re going to different movies. We’re off to watch the gentle romantic comedy of “Yesterday”, predictable but full of great tunes. While my son and his girlfriend are going to “The Lion King”, which was her pick and one which Tom had no hesitation in agreeing to.
After we come out I am talking to my daughter while we wait for the others.
“Did you enjoy it?” I ask her.
“It was OK but a bit long. They really strung it out. It was story which could have been told in half the time. I get a bit bored in movies, even good ones.”
“Oh, OK”. I say
“And the chairs are horrendous. So uncomfortable” she adds, now on a roll.
“I wonder if they’ve enjoyed The Lion King?” I say, trying to change the subject.
“I wouldn’t want to see it. The CGI is so good now it’s not like watching a cartoon anymore. What’s the point? You might as well watch a documentary.”
I smile and let it go, safe in the knowledge that I am trying to extinguish a fire that, in some part, I almost certainly started.