Driving the conversation on
Starting a conversation with your teenage children is a bit like defusing an unexploded bomb.
One wrong move and it’ll all blow up in your face.
It’s funny, when they were little they wouldn’t shut up. An undisturbed trip to the toilet felt like a weekend spa break. An unbroken night’s sleep was the equivalent of a decent sized lottery win.
Back then, all they wanted was your attention. And they demanded it with all the vigour of the demented drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket.
Now, on bad days, they make you feel like you’ve been ghosted by a long-term partner who’s bored of you.
Which is why the only school run that I do is now a blessing, not a chore. Since daughter #2 started her acting course at LIPA Sixth Form last September, she spends the week with her auntie in Liverpool and comes home for a rest at weekends.
And because yours truly’s day job is slap bang in the middle of Lancaster and Liverpool, Friday night is the new school run - if you can call ploughing up and down a dark, deserted motorway for two hours-plus once a week a school run. Which I do.
But the one good thing about driving all that way is it’s the only time of the week me and daughter #2 actually talk. For an hour. Pretty much non-stop. If you’re stuck in a car with someone for any length of time, eventually you just start talking and be yourself.
She’s usually exhausted and it takes a chicken salsa wrap, jumbo-sized Wispa and a Coke from the Tesco petrol station where I fill up on fuel (I know how to show a kid a fun time) to recharge the batteries, but once she’s fed and watered we have a good old catch-up.
Her course is demanding and exhausting.
But not as demanding or exhausting as spending two years cramming for a bunch of GCSE exams about pointless subjects she couldn’t give a stuff about. Which has been our attitude all along.
Well, ever since we got used to the idea of our youngest daughter leaving home at 16, turning her back on A-levels and training to be an actress.
It’s taken a while for the penny to drop, but here it is.
It’s their life, not an extension of yours.