1. When you initiate it, with the promise that there’s something in it for them (a free lunch somewhere nice).
2. When they want something.
Last Saturday morning me and the boss drove to Liverpool to meet daughters #1 and #2 who are both at university there, with lunch thrown in at a bistro of their choice. Daughter #1 even thoughtfully pinged us a menu a few days beforehand – it all looked delicious but so long as there’s poached eggs in some form then all’s well.
And what a pleasant hour or so it was. We’d have stayed longer but they both had a better offer, one visiting a friend in Manchester, the other a party in Liverpool.
We’re only glad they could fit us in. After 18 months of being told what to do and when to do it by people who have no idea what they’re doing, a trip down the motorway to visit members of our family had all the illicit thrill of a last-minute early 90s holiday to Ibiza.
Anyway, both kids looked happy and well. We paid for lunch (obviously), dropped them back at their new homes, patted ourselves on the back for a job well done and basked in the warm glow of raising children into adulthood. As a parent, every win is to be savoured because they don’t come around very often. Every four years, like the World Cup.
The next day my phone pinged with a flurry of panicky texts from daughter #2. She needed her birth certificate and bank statements, like now, as ID for a DBS check so she can legally work with children as part of her course.
These items were in our house, just like they were the day before when we drove to Liverpool to see her. Pity she didn’t think to mention it.
So we compromised. She got the train to Preston and I handed over the vital documents in the short-stay station car park.
Panic over. But it seems the Bank of Mum and Dad has branched out and is now in the bespoke courier business.