IT’S just a small tingle of emotion. Not as deep as other emotional moments, like, say, watching another country vote for the first time, or a goal scored from one of those counter-attacks in the World Cup, where the winger hoofs an arcing ball into the path of the striker, who has just run from his own penalty area and hits it without breaking stride.
But it is there, nonetheless. A little ripple-along-the-cheek feeling of having experienced a singular moment. Something small has changed.
Something about two foot high has changed, to be precise.
The elder of our two children has just had a little test-day at her play-school, before starting in September. It’s just a few hours, but the hyperbolic part of me — which peaks around column deadline time — is convinced it’s all downhill from here. The Great Separation has begun.
She already looked older as I said goodbye.
Some would say she threw shade at me. It’s only a matter of time before she expresses her independence in ways that hurt with a thousand tiny stings, such as dissing our choice of music as lame, or calling us tragically middle class when we tut-tut her gun-ownership or opioid use. I don’t know exactly what’s in store for us, but I presume there is some awful challenge that our generation of parents will face, once their children start socialising, which previous cohorts of parents didn’t.
There’s no indication what it will be, but based on the way each successive generation of parents seems to be blindsided by technology and fad, it could literally be anything. There was a time when people were warned about the dangers of TV. TV! Oh that we could persuade our youth to engage in such a wholesome activity now.
The whole family sitting down to watch Where In The World is now regarded as misty-eyed-edly as dazzling rabbits in the heather with one’s fellow scamps or whittling good luck charms on top of a dolmen.
The only foods we feared were sweets that would rot our teeth. Now, it turns out that the heel of a sliced pan can cause cholera.
Who knows what my daughters generation will do. Who knows what they’ll be called. We’re running out of letters: X, Millenial, Y, Z. They’ll probably be known as Generation [honking noise] and you’ll know them because they will be the first to regard snorting nano-drones in order to get their blood cells on reality TV as ‘No Big Deal’. There’ll be fads for decorative amputation or speaking backwards.
Or maybe Generation Honk will go back to eating cheese singles and watching reruns of Live At Three With The Over55s in the ultimate two fingers to neoliberal society.
I watch her settle into the playschool on this morning and play with seashells (SEASHELLS! Is the world gone absolute insane. Oh, wait, they’ve been around a while). We might as well put her room up on Airbnb, hide in our own room, worrying in case we hear the tourist couple at it, and hope they don’t mind cornflakes for breakfast
But if we did put her room up on Airbnb, where would we store all the random stuff you can get away with putting in a child’s bedroom until they’re old enough to say “Daddy, can you take that spare wheel, car jack, and receipts out of my room, there is no space for Dolly The Dinosaur”?
As it happens, my fear that the slippery slide has begun lasts only long enough to think of it as a subject for this column. I collect her and she’s tired after all the playing and wants to be carried home and go for a nap, so we’re needed for another few days yet, anyway.
Our next challenge is potty training, which is effectively the CAO for officially being accepted into playschool.
Potty training. I forgot that. We’re going to lose her all over again. That’s it. I’m hiding her passport.
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