‘But why dad, why?’ Because I say so, OK

Bill Nighy and the cast of Ordeal by Innocence

VERITY LUSH: This is my idea of Christmas telly torture

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When was the moment you first felt like a parent? Was it when you held your baby for the first time? Was it when you had to change their nappy? Was it when they called you mum or dad?

For me, it is what I say that really makes me feel like a parent – those words and phrases parents have uttered to their children for generations.

I remember my mum and dad saying them to me and I’m sure their parents did the same with them.

Most of our responses are given to one question that all children ask, often many times in one day: ‘Why?’

We’ll try to explain the answer to their confused faces, but after a while we resort to those four words used by parents for many years, ‘because I said so’.

Of course, all parents know this can sometimes produce another ‘why?’ from our children.

Sometimes, particularly during the summer holidays, I’ll surprise my daughters with a day out.

When we are in the car one of my two daughters usually asks the predicted question: ‘Where are we going?’ I respond with another few words that make me feel like a parent, ‘just wait and see!’

My parents said the same thing to me on long car journeys and now it is all happening again with the next generation.

Last week my daughters were watching television and sitting too close to the screen for my liking, so I said: ‘Don’t sit too close to the television otherwise you’ll get square eyes.’

Will they really get square eyes? Of course they won’t. My parents used to say it to me and I’m just handing down their wisdom.

There are two sentences that not only make me feel like a parent but also 30 years older. That’s when I say to my daughters, ‘when I was a child’ or ‘back in our day’.

They are normally used when I am trying to make my children realise how comfortably off they are or the brilliant opportunities that are available to them that I didn’t have when I was their age.

For example, I was trying to explain to my six-year-old daughter Caitlin that when I was a child, I only had four television channels to choose from.

All these words and phrases really make you feel like a parent because you can remember your own parents using them.

One thing’s guaranteed – they’ll be used for generations to come.