Without wishing to romanticise the past, there was a time not too long ago when we could make our children laugh by hiding our faces behind our hands, opening them like shutters and saying, “I see!”.
How our nippers would rock with laughter, even after the tenth time we did it. Sometimes it was hard to keep the enthusiasm going right to the end of the performance, but more often than not we stuck it out.
Similarly, all our children had to do to impress us back then was to do a poo in their potty. We’d grin like buffoons and hug each other in sheer delight after they’d curled one off, and clap like our team had scored the winning goal in the cup final.
In fact, I still have the text from the boss on an old Nokia mobile from October 2002 telling me our then two-year-old daughter #1 had done her first al fresco dump while I was, er, at Old Trafford watching United beat Everton 3-0.
There were other ways our children could light up our lives back then. The main one being sleeping through the night.
Sleep deprivation is a form of torture and it’s no wonder parents of very small children have a very short fuse. If you’d had two hours’ sleep after nursing a teething infant who spent the night screaming her head off in agony, you’d understand why stressed-out mums and dads are less inclined to put up with your meaningless, work-related moaning.
Which brings us back to the present day. Parents with teenage children, when was the last time you made them smile, let alone laugh?
Often we’re fortunate to elicit a grunt of recognition when we ask our daughters a question. And if we have to repeat it -because we don’t speak Moody Teen - we have to duck for cover because we’re about to get both barrels.
Lads, remember when you were at school and there was nothing more alien and terrifying than teenage girls? Well let me tell you as a father of two daughters, things have not changed.
Here’s how it is. Men are dogs, straightforward and uncomplicated. Pat him, feed him and he’s a friend for life. Women are cats. Do not mess with them.