–Like many of you, I have had a child or two. Many of you are Catholic so have many more than two, but, on average, I think most people reading this will be aware of caring and providing for at least 2.36 children. Again, on average.
In my case, I fathered them, which I think is generally accepted as the more favourable part. My daughter is now a teenager and has in fact now got a lot less teenage left than she had when she started it. At seventeen she is now in to the second year of what we in the UK call ‘A’ Levels, which is the level above the one I got to when I finished getting any schooling.
Somehow though, regardless of her A* predictions for them and the glowing academic record – the like of which I would beat the ‘swots’ up for showing off for – she thinks I am a genius.
“Dad, you always know stuff,” she says, which is true.
The fact that it has nothing to do with what we started talking about, because I had no idea and so, unnoticed, turned the subject of the conversation into something I did know about, is the skill I am actually a genius with.
She also says “Dad, you’re so funny,” and then smiles enigmatically, so I’ve no idea what sense of the word funny she might actually mean. Mrs Bryntin has the same smile.
Anyway, although when you first have a child and decide it is perfect and so post photographs of it on social media to share with your friends and family every five minutes for the first three years or so of its life, gradually you become aware of a few rough edges. By teenage, the rough edges can become chasms at home but be strangely smooth and veneered and missing entirely on social media at the same time.
My daughter has thankfully not yet presented us with any chasms but does have a couple of adorable little edges. The first is that she has a slight problem with a tongue-tie, so ‘S’ sounds can be a difficulty – to the extent that one of her A level subjects in school is Biology and that her teachers and entire class knows not to get her to explain anything using the word ‘photosynthesis’ as it is liable to generate mostly sibilance and saliva. They let her get away with ‘the light to energy thing’ when speaking aloud.
So, a caring Dad, knowing that she’ll need to be making notes a lot at school, and that his daughter loves proper stationery instead of using computers, can buy his clever daughter a nice gift at the start of the new term. So I bought her a new notebook with a cover design that sort of links up with the Biology interest on it.
She loved that. Couldn’t say it, but loved it.
I could tell she loved it, she was moved to speechlessness and I think there was a tear or two forming too.
The other rough edge is that she has developed a little bit of OCD behaviour. For example, fuelling the car when she’s in it is often a lot more expensive than I planned as I try to stop the price display on exact round numbers. £29.97 or £30.01 is likely to have her in something approaching a catatonic state with a frozen look of shock on her face so I have to go on to £31.00… miss, £31.02, try for £32.00, etc, etc, until either I hit one right (“£47.00! At last…”) or I can’t fit any more fuel in the tank and we’ve had to call an ambulance.
She once went off into the study to do some homework, I only noticed when I went in the next day that my one jar collection of assorted sea glass picked on the local beach was now in five jars of different colours and seemed to have been sorted into a size order with the largest pieces at the bottom too.
So today, being Friday and her living with her Mum about an hour away, I like to regularly post on her Facebook wall with a little written summary of how we’ve been and perhaps a picture or two. Today, I posted her a picture of some nice socks from a pack that my Mum had bought me for a gift, and I was now proudly wearing a pair of. I casually mentioned that they were both right-legged socks too.
Honestly, there are all sorts of sites giving sterling advice for successful parenting out there on the webs, but not one of them can tell you how to reliably, and remotely, reduce your lisping, slightly OCD teenage daughter into a frozen catatonic state at will.