“I just need to call at Sainsbury’s on the way home,” I said as Ben climbed into the car.
“No problem. How was your day?”
I love that. Love, love, love that. And if you’re the parent of a teenager you’ll know why.
I’ve just collected you from College and yes, I’m fully aware you have an unbreakable appointment with your Xbox or mobile or both but the family needs this inconvenient thing called food.
Travel back in time three years and Jessica would most certainly have answered…
…But not with ‘no problem, how was your day?’ Tom would have sighed one of those long sighs he spent his teenage years perfecting.
“My day was good thanks. Wrote the script for a TV commercial. How about you?”
“Yep, good. And to answer your next question, History, Law and Philosophy.”
I should have paid more attention. There’s nothing more dangerous than a 16 year old armed with law and logic.
“I’m surprised you’ve any money left for food,” my son nonchalantly remarked.
“You’ve just bought a case of wine.”
“If you’re referring to the very small box in the front hall, that’s different. That’s because I had the money saved up in my wine account.”
“Your what? Your wine account?”
“Yes, I pay something into it every month.”
Prosecuting counsel took a moment to consider. “Do you have a special fruit and veg account?”
“No, of course not.”
“Would you say fruit and veg was more important for your family’s health than wine?”
“Obviously,” I said, foolishly concentrating on finding a parking space instead of the QC’s question.
“And yet you have a wine account and not a fruit and veg account?”
You see what I’m up against, m’lud? Guilty as charged – and there was no remission for good conduct…
“Can I get a watermelon, Dad?”
“Yeah, sure, always happy to treat you.”
“But a watermelon’s not a treat is it?”
Slipped up again you see. Too busy lusting after Italian cheese. “Of course it’s a treat,” I said without thinking.
“Dad, watermelon is far nicer than ginger biscuits. And it’s far better for me. Natural hydration and a fine source of anti-oxidants…”
Biology GCSE, you see? In my day it was the reproductive cycle of the tadpole. Now it’s info to batter your parents into submission.
“…Yet you buy ginger biscuits all the time and watermelon’s supposed to be a treat.”
Ha! I had him. Hoist with his own petard. “So you’re saying watermelon’s nicer than your Mum’s homemade ginger biscuits?”
“Obviously not. Otherwise I wouldn’t have eaten them all would I?” A point I had to concede. 24 identical biscuits straight out of the Bake Off manual. Number eaten by Dad, one. Clearly there were times when practical evidence outweighed legal theory.
“Anyway,” I said, “The watermelon’s far too heavy for me. I can live without giving the chiropractor forty quid. Pretend you’re in the rugby world cup.”
“Or I’m a woman about to give birth…” What? Where did that come from?
“I told you not to watch One Born Every Minute with your Mother. Come on, you carry it. Not so much a fruit, more a murder weapon…”
“At least you could eat the evidence, Dad.”
But not as fast a Ben could. Sliced, diced and gone – an entire watermelon in one night. There’s no food processor faster than a teenage boy.
Meanwhile I was roaming round the house with bottles of wine. A couple under the bed, one in the wardrobe. And half a dozen safely hidden in Jessica’s bedroom. Tom home from his summer job this weekend? Whatever gave you that idea…
Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it – and you’d like something light and moderately humorous to read – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle. Alternatively the first chronological book, ‘Half Dad Half Fish’ which covers the time when the children were 9, 7 and 4 is available here.