Fam­ily fun? No thanks dad

Cheshire Life - - Finer Things -

‘How do peo­ple fill their days when there isn’t a sport­ing fix­ture to watch

in a gale or a function room to clean up from 30 five-year-olds tread­ing

jelly into a car­pet?’ Justin’s plans are ru­ined when he’s told: ‘No,

we don’t like to be be­side the seaside’

Aday at the seaside. I know it’s prob­a­bly not go­ing to be as good as I imag­ine. My brain tends to push the ide­alised ver­sion of things to the fore­front rather than the ac­tu­al­ity based on ex­pe­ri­ence. I sup­pose I’m more of a dreamer than a prag­ma­tist. That’s not a bad thing, is it?

I’m obsessed with a day at the seaside. Candy floss. Some chips. Find an empty spot and let the dog run wild. She loves crash­ing into the waves and drinking them until she re­alises it’s salt wa­ter. This could be a great fam­ily day out. Heck, even the 22-year-old man-child might come. I ask. He doesn’t. He stares at me like I’ve sug­gested we take up cro­chet­ing naked in the lo­cal li­brary.

Never mind. The lit­tle one will. She’s 14 now, not too old to hang out with dad? She’s free. It’s half term. Free­dom, school hol­i­days were the best weeks of my life. What un­fet­tered joy. Hang­ing about with your mates, play­ing out, mess­ing about, wan­der­ing from the house for hours and re­turn­ing as it got dark and you felt hungry. I’m jeal­ous. She’s about to have a bril­liant week.

But no. That isn’t the half term she’s planned. Exam sea­son is upon us. My daugh­ter is nose deep in re­vi­sion. She’s an odd child, she’s or­gan­ised a re­vi­sion party for her and her pals around at our house.

I chuckle and think ‘yeah right, a re­vi­sion party that’s def­i­nitely hap­pen­ing’. They’ll all ar­rive, and within five min­utes it’ll be shriek­ing and car­ry­ing on like the teenage freaks they are. How wrong I am. I hear talk of ‘SOHCAHTOA’. I won­der what it is? A new type of mu­sic? I Google. I reckon I’ll find out what it is, cue it up on the wire­less speaker in the room and play it out for them like the groovy dad I am. I’m shocked. This isn’t what I was ex­pect­ing. SOHCAHTOA, Google tells me is a help­ful mnemonic for re­mem­ber­ing the def­i­ni­tions of the trigono­met­ric func­tions sine, co­sine, and tan­gent.

What kind of kid have I cre­ated here? It’s another in­di­ca­tion that a pe­riod of my life is com­ing to an end. The years of hav­ing fun with the kids. We don’t re­alise what we’ve got until it’s gone as the song goes. How do peo­ple fill their days when there isn’t a sport­ing fix­ture to watch in a gale or a function room to clean up from 30 five-year-olds tread­ing jelly into a car­pet?

Never mind, me and my beloved can have some fun.

My part­ner is a teacher. She’s off too. She teaches so­ci­ol­ogy to sixth for­m­ers. I’ve al­ways found the idea that teach­ing ab­stract thought to kids who haven’t the time or in­cli­na­tion to think is a dif­fi­cult task for her. But she per­se­veres. That’s one of her best at­tributes, per­se­ver­ance. For ex­am­ple, she’s per­sisted with me for longer than I thought. I hes­i­tate to use the term part­ner, but that’s the aw­ful term so­ci­ety has de­creed I should use for the per­son I share my life with, in the ab­sence of a mar­riage cer­tifi­cate. It feels icky calling her my girl­friend when we are both in our late 40s. Part­ner though feels so au­thor­i­tar­ian and cold. Also, part­ner im­plies we are in a partnershi­p that is based on equal­ity – se­ri­ously, I know the in­flu­ence my vot­ing rights have. I’m a to­ken. Def­i­nitely, a si­lent mem­ber of this or­gan­i­sa­tion when it comes to the big stuff.

That’s just a joke if you are reading this, my dear part­ner.

She’ll want to do some­thing, surely. ‘Let’s go to the seaside,’ I say. ‘The seaside?’ she replies. ‘Why?’

‘It’ll be fun,’ I mut­ter. Mut­ter­ing be­cause I can sense we aren’t go­ing to the seaside.

‘Fun? With you?’ She asks with a smirk on her face that sug­gests she’s al­ready an­swer­ing the ques­tion. Have you ever felt alone in a house full of peo­ple?

I look at the dog. She looks at me. I pick up her lead, and she gen­tly rises, fol­lows me to the door and we go out. I don’t know what I’m go­ing to do when she’s not around any more.

ABOVE: Justin fears those days of fam­ily fun on the beach are over

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.