Let me ask you a question - would you, as a parent, want your kids to end up liking the same things as you do?
The same foods, the same music, the same sports, the same football teams? Would that be proof positive of successful parenting, or impressive brainwashing? Would the total opposite indicate your child has their own character, has made their own choices, and is brave enough to stand by their own decisions?
It’s a thin fence of a dilemma, and one which I have been balancing precariously on for years without ever falling over the edge either way.
At the weekend, Ellen, 15, threw me a curveball by saying she’d like to see the film Bohemian Rhapsody. I was impressed - I love Queen’s musical bombast and their performance at Live Aid remains unsurpassed in a stadium setting.
Meanwhile Ben, almost 17, showed no interest. So he stayed in watching computer game tutorials on his phone while Ells and I got ready to rock.
Was this the start of a journey which will end up with her, like her dad, loving classic rock. Will the next few years see her start to explore the likes of Pink Floyd, T Rex, Bowie, the Beatles, the Eagles, the Pistols? Just like I did all those years ago.
I envy those mums and dads whose offspring support the same football club they do? They can share the perennial emotional rollercoaster rides together, go to matches together, discuss the games together.
I will never be able to do that - I was born in Exeter and follow my local club, Ben was born in Bristol and raised in Fordingbridge just outside the New Forest. His only connection to my football club is the fact his dad and his granddad both support them. In some families that might be enough, but - sadly - not in mine.
Ben does not like football at all. Despite my best efforts. However, thinking about it, I guess I could be my fault - perhaps I tried to get him to like the game too much? Perhaps I was too pushy? Perhaps I should be pleased that he has his own mind, that he doesn’t just do as he’s told?
Ellen, on the other hand, has grown to love her mum’s favourite sport of horseriding. They spend hours sharing that special bond - travelling around, training, competing, talking about horses. Deep down, I’m envious. Deep down, I’d love the same sporting time with my son.
Same with music, and I know there’s a lot of time left for Ben to discover hard rock, glam rock, progressive rock, punk rock, 80s hair rock - all the stuff I either loved when I was a teenager or grew to love. I don’t expect him to share my appreciation for Marillion’s mid-80s epic ‘Misplaced Childhood’, or a heartfelt discussion on Sham 69 for that matter. But some musical common ground would be lovely.
I think it’s important for sons and fathers to share a major love of something - whether it’s musical, sporting, spiritual or culinary.
At the moment the first two are non starters, and we’re not a religious family. But he does like visiting curry houses, so all is not yet lost ….
I guess it’s what’s called ‘growing up’
Once upon a time, not that long ago, Ellen was sitting next to me in a cinema watching the latest Disney princess film.
Like millions of other girls her age around the world, she loved Frozen. That was six years ago.
Anyway, the sands of time continue to pour at a furious rate and now, as already mentioned, the most recent film we watched together was Freddie Mercury’s incredible rise, fall and rise again – culminating in his defining moment at Wembley in July, 1985.
I am sure no parents of babies and toddlers – or those among you waiting for Mr Stork – need any advice from me. But if you ever asked, I’d say this - celebrate every moment (okay, apart from the nappy-changing ones), because they don’t stay babies and toddlers forever.
I’ve gone from watching the adventures of Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy (In the Night Garden) with Ellen to sitting with her watching Freddie Mercury’s descent into hedonistic hell.
This is called ‘growing up’ and it’s great, really it is, but watching Freddie makes you realise you’re never going to get the innocent years of Elsa and Anna back. Sometimes, though, you have to - sorry for this – Let It Go.
Leaving the cinema at Port Solent late last Saturday, it was raining, windy and freezing. Ells didn’t mind. After all (sorry again!) the cold never bothered her anyway...