Should I be worried for my children now both are teenagers? Should I worry that when things go wrong for them they want your compassion yet they tend to perceive beforehand they know more of life than yourself?
Yep, difficult questions and natural worry! But, be blessed about this...were we parents not the same?
Take my son, just turned 13 and at five foot ten he is taller by slight margin than me..."Coming to the rugby lunch?". Er, no he doesn't...!
" I'm going to St Margaret's". Obviously by bus because that is the only sensible way of getting there. " By train Dad!" WHAT???? Now do realise my son...and consciously I can sense myself shouting, raising my voice, putting my very serious dad head on as all those risks speed through my mind as what possible scenarios might unfold as he and his friends embark on this mini adventure.
Alarm bells ringing...the nearest station to where they are going is a three mile hike, along roads that resemble a roller coaster ride in places. Then there is the busy A road to cross, where more have been killed than I have fingers and toes...only last month a young person lost their life hitch-hiking that road! Then, there are those blind bends and hills en route...and at this time of year, well they are going to be walking back in the bloody dark at rush hour time...why oh why are you not getting the bus?!?
That is the perilous worrying done, now the financial bit...pocket money is a must. Money for train ticket, refreshments of some kind and if necessity arises change for the bus home rather than train. Oh no, they have it all suss'd...they can bunk the train! You cannot bunk the bus because as strapping teenagers you cannot exactly slip by the driver at the stop without causing a public scene. The train, four to eight times larger than the bus, a four minute journey ride and so much easier to bunk...NO...you get get caught that's a £20 fine...ten times more than the fare!
And then there is the environmental bit? In this day and age you get fined for dropping litter...leaving it on the train or bus is okay...they have cleaners of course. But getting refreshments to eat on a teenaged hike is a bit like a licence to litter...no bins, just hedgerow in which to dispose of their junk. You can put it in your pockets...no way Dad! Yep, they will leave a trail of wrappers and plastic bottles no doubt?
And then there is the thought and concern of having a dinner ready for them on their return home...well my son will be tired out and surely we gave him enough to get something filling to eat? Me I am off to a rather cheap and fantastic rugby lunch while my lad will be feasting on Haribos and Lucozade...so preparing dinner could be a wasteful affair...and gladly I was right. He went straight to his room and fell asleep...which means I will have to wait till morning to find out of his adventure...I mean the truth and nothing but the truth!
And now to my teenaged daughter, a bit more sensible with age, after all she is sweet sixteen next week, growing up fast, into make up, fashion and desire for riches to spend and boys....BOYFRIEND!?! "You be bloody careful...?!!" do I know him? What's he like? Who's his parents? Has he a job? You do not make a pass at my lass unless you are earning forty grand, I can let you know that now.
" It's no more or less of a worry than we did for K..." assures my wife to me. It won't be long before she is off down the pub and rolling home drunk...that's the worry. She almost does as she pleases, secretly in her bedroom in full practice for X Factor. And where are you going? Not only do I ask of this once but several times, and yes it has to be several because at her age then their life is top secret. Shrouded in mystery!
Then with her, my delightful daughter has the lacking of advance planning. For herself, having a grammar education, for which she has strived on her own good effort, her friends are spread around a wide catchment area of up to 20 miles from our house...bloody annoying when at the drop of a hat she expects a lift to some remote part of our Kentish countryside...Yep a mere taxi service I am!
And with her is the staying out late and dinner quandary...as with with my son. So that is another worry of what to cook and ask if it will be wasted when she arrives home because she has eaten out...oh the joys! And to prepare dinner for all, the wife is on a diet for purpose, is not what they will have because of their fussiness. And me well I am a kind of can cook, won't cook type.
I expect this worry is just natural...where they go, who with, what they will be up to, dinner, pocket money, lack of advance communication or warning, awaiting the expectant phone call, " Dad can you pick us up?"' a call that always comes at inconvenient times, like sitting on the toilet, and not do they ring your mobile, they ring the house phone...like a game or sorts, because as you reach one it rings off and the other then sounds, which cannot be found because it is stuffed away deep down the sofa or something.
Well, in essence, must be thankfully for mobile technology, for at least we have some reign on them...that's when they answer and for them they will have the notion to use a friend's phone if theirs has died of battery.
And when they are home you have no more need of worry but when they don't wish to talk of what they have done today. " It don't matter Dad!" . It does, I won't to know and engage you both in conversation to see if you enjoyed your days. No, they don't wish to talk, just banish themselves away in their rooms...hope you didn't do anything wrong I at least wonder, as they never seem to wish to talk, or do I just sit and relax and wonder as to something that is not concerning enough...should I be worried of a knock at my door?
Oh well, live for another day!
God bless and amen.