Jobs, money, migrants and education – but primarily themselves.
But the most precious commodity of them all is time. And as anybody who is raising children will tell you, it is running out.
Somehow, more through luck than judgement, we’ve brought up two wonderful teenage daughters. Intelligent, beautiful, tall and strong and with the world at their feet.
When you’re young you’re made of Kevlar and are indestructible. Everything’s ahead of you and nothing is impossible. There isn’t an ageing billionaire in the world who wouldn’t willingly trade places with any of our kids right now.
This column may occasionally come across as world-weary and cynical but that’s what 25 years in journalism does to you. But let me tell you this, I’d swap every front page, every trophy I’ve seen my stupid football team win, every front row ticket for every world-class rock band you’ve ever heard of, every wasted weekend at music festivals and every penny in the bank for one more day with our kids when they were little.
Shane MacGowan once said he didn’t know if he was awake or asleep when he wrote The Pogues’ Streams Of Whiskey and a lot of writers’ best material pops into their heads when they’re flat out.
But what prompted this week’s stream of consciousness was a dream, and I couldn’t tell you if what came to me was imagined or real, of a two-year-old daughter #1 running towards me in our garden with a dummy in her mouth, giggling and throwing her arms around me in that carefree way that only toddlers do – and the realisation that those days were 15 years ago and are gone forever.
Parenting consists of two main emotions.
Fear and guilt, with the occasional feeling of relief when the bills are paid, the sun is shining and you can hear your children laughing.
Those days are very few and far between, especially since the banks blew all of our money and the government made the likes of you and me bail them out to the tune of more than a trillion quid.