Family fun? No thanks dad
‘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