I have devised a fake plan to wake up my kids | BBC Radio Solent's Alun Newman
During the months I have been writing these columns for The News, one thing has become increasingly apparent.
I’m a distinctly average parent.
I’m by no means a natural.
I’ve met super-gifted parents and one of their key criteria is they seem to be able to roll with the punches.
They see family life as being a series of phases and they love their children for who they are.
No pressure. No agenda.
Well, that’s not me. I’m a parental micro-manager who’s incapable of leaving his own baggage at the doorstep.
I constantly worry about something and if there was a website called Parentadviser (like Tripadvisor) then I’d be lucky to get two stars.
In fact, two stars may be a bit optimistic.
However even with that ‘woe is me’ preamble, last weekend I had a win.
A stroke of parenting genius that I’m happy to share.
We had the in-laws coming over, whom we haven’t seen (in person not via the hideous internet call) because of the pandemic. They were travelling down from Wales.
It was also an important birthday milestone and in my wife’s family that means balloons, banners, streamers and accompanying single-use landfill.
I was up at the crack of sparrows but the rest of the family were dragging.
My wife appeared but we still had food to prepare; things to clean and Hoover; and shopping to buy.
The teenagers were in bed and it was about 9am.
Normally at the weekend, teenager appearance hours are well after 12pm.
In fact, I have got into the habit of saying ‘good morning’ in the afternoon. I now see lunch as breakfast and cereal now appears to be the food choice late into the evening.
That aside, I find it almost impossible to get them up without an argument… or so I thought.
Here is what I now call the ‘fake wake’.
I said to my wife that she could ring our doorbell as if our guests had arrived early.
The dog will go bananas.
I’ll answer the door with a ‘faux’ greeting to the in-laws.
I’ll then run upstairs and rush into their bedrooms in ‘dad’s panicking’ style. Tell the kids the guests have arrived early.
They’ll then respond accordingly, hopefully by flying out of bed.
We acted on the plan. Doorbell, dog, noisy welcome, run upstairs.
I burst into the relevant rooms and it worked an absolute treat!
Within minutes, the shower was in use.
Hair straighteners were heating up.
My wife steps the drama up a notch and starts doing a loud vocal impression of her mum.
I add authentic quality by opening the door again and claiming I’ll help with the bags from the car.
We put some music on in the kitchen and let the plan work its magic.
It was amazing.
I would say within half an hour they were downstairs, bemused and asking where their grandparents were.
We laughed at them in a mocking way that was both satisfying and loving at the same time.
Credit to them, they found it funny and once they had checked outside, one more time, we cracked on with getting ready.
I don’t know why I haven’t tried this before.
I appreciate it's deceitful.
We know what happened to ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’.
But he was only dealing with wolves.
I’m dealing with teenagers and that’s infinitely harder.
After the success of the ‘fake wake,’ I’m hoping my Parentadviser star rating goes up to at least three stars even if it’s just for a week.
I tried to cheat the system…
During a random break in the weather, I decided that a mid-week barbecue would be a good move.
I could easily do a whole radio show with people arguing about whether charcoal or gas is the heat source of choice. Throw in electric barbecues and you’ve got an on-air brawl. Even though it’s essentially an outside oven, I always go gas. The reason is, charcoal takes ages to heat up.
It’s only a mid-week hit. Gas is quick and it’s the lazier option. That’s me.
I rushed into a supermarket on the way home for something to burn and eat. There, in the meat aisle, was a barbecue family meat pack. Two chicken breasts, two thighs, two legs, two chicken wings.
I reached out to take it off the shelf. However, something was wrong. I looked for a while and on the shelf underneath were whole chickens. The family barbecue pack was £7 and the whole chicken was £4.50.
Hang on a minute.
The BBQ family pack was a whole chicken just in cut-up portions. It was a chicken in a box! It was aimed at people like me – people in a rush to get home; people who either can’t be bothered or just haven’t realised that you can buy a whole chicken for less and then do what you like.
Outraged, I simply bought a chicken. I got home and watched a YouTube tutorial on how to butcher and prepare a chicken. Then, I got cross that all my knives are blunt, realised that butchery is quite a skill and regretted not buying the barbecue pack.
If you have no skills and a short temper, spend the extra £2.