Time to accept that I am really not down with the kids | Blaise Tapp
Dad, can I meet a friend after school? I need some personal space’, or ‘I’m going to get all of my hair cut off, it’s my hair, end of’, are just two ‘conversations’ from the past week that illustrate how quickly time is marching on.
While the 11-year-old, who only yesterday was obsessed with Mr Tumble and epic bedtime tales, has yet to inform me that she’s getting a Che Guevara tattoo or that she will only be eating nettles and berries from now on, it can only be a matter of time before she does.
Like most people my age, with more grey hairs than years left on this planet, there has come a point of realisation that I am officially middle-aged, despite tedious Facebook memes which solemnly declare ‘60 is the new 40’ or ‘age is just a number’.
That point has been reached by yours truly over the past three months, during which time my ascent to fogeydom has been accelerated by my insistence that we fit a smart energy meter, a device I now watch more often than the television, not to mention the fact that I routinely advise our eldest to wear a coat unless she wants to catch her death.
I really have turned into my parents.
To compound matters, I’m regularly spouting phrases such as: ‘You didn’t invent being young, you know’, ‘can you pipe down, I can’t hear the news,’ or the modern classic: ‘In my day, we didn’t have all these fancy gadgets, only a computer which took half a day to load and a Walkman the size of Dusty Bin.’
The only real influence I now wield is the app on the smartphone which restricts the amount of time our children spend on screen and even then the clever little so-and-sos find a way around it.
There was a time when I was king of our jungle, someone who had the respect of his young charges – these days I’m more like a monarch in permanent exile.
Concerted efforts to become more relevant and keep up with trends are met with thinly disguised contempt from the eldest, who now flatly refuses to explain the Generation Z vernacular to her old man.
I realise I do very little to help myself here.
It has been brought to my attention that I bang on about the late 1980s and the ’90s as much anybody with a bus pass reminisces about the sixties and we all know how tiresome that can be.
Unhelpfully, I’ve started measuring how much time has elapsed since any random milestone, another indication that one is becoming long in the tooth.
Recent attempts to introduce my pre-teen to the music of my youth have been as welcome as Alex Salmond will be at the next SNP conference and there is very little hope of Ian Brown, Del Amitri, and the later works of Johnny Cash appearing on her playlist anytime soon.
I am not alone in fighting a daily battle to prove that I’m far from being past it and that I actually might have something useful to offer when it comes to advice about how to navigate the very choppy waters of adolescence.
The problem that all 40-something parents face is that we tend to sound like a pound shop Confucius whenever we attempt to either guide or pass on pearls of wisdom to our children – something they are only too quick to point out.
If the past few months have taught me anything is that while every child needs the love of their parents, there comes a point in their life where any attempt to administer our parental responsibilities will be met with maximum resistance and that a different approach is what is required.
These new tactics are currently being finessed, in between me Googling the meaning of the word ‘peng’.