I’m sad, it’s the end of an era for two reasons involving a bearded man with red cheeks and some half price sushi. I’ll explain what I mean rather than have you try and decipher my ambiguous and slightly random statement. Ok, the bearded man first. No it’s not Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses, Geoff Capes or Brian Blessed. It’s Father Christmas of course, the ever-present bringer of joy and presents. Well, unless bearded men with red cheeks and a sleigh full of reindeer freaks you out in which case run.
Bye Bye Santa
I’ve talked previously about how Jade discovered the truth regarding Father Christmas and that ended up with me crying in Starbucks and her comforting me to the bemusement of everyone there. Well, two weeks before Christmas just gone I was out with Katie walking Honey when she asked if she could talk to me about something. She said she’d done something and wanted to tell me about it, hoping I wouldn’t be angry or upset with her. Naturally, when your just turned 11 year old says that you think it’s one of the following:
She’d taken a bottle of wine from the house and got drunk with her friends in the woods.
She’d hit a teacher / pupil at school and was in danger of being expelled.
She’d kidnapped a baby giraffe and was hiding it in our shed.
No? Thankfully it wasn’t any of those. Instead, she’d seen an open Amazon package in the hall, looked inside and seen 4 things she’d asked Father Christmas for on her Christmas list. I reassured her that I wasn’t angry or upset and that I shouldn’t have left it there. She looked at me with her innocent, inquisitive eyes and said, “Daddy, do you buy my Christmas presents?” I suggested that we found somewhere to sit down as I didn’t want to answer this important question without looking at her and Honey was also pulling on his lead trying to eat a cat.
We found a bus stop, sat down and after holding my hand she looked deep into my eyes. “Daddy, do you buy my Christmas presents?” I couldn’t lie to her and so simply said, “Yes darling.” I felt sick. Almost instantaneously she followed up with, “Is Father Christmas real?” Ok, so I could have given her some flannel ridden answer about him being real in your heart etc but it was time for my little girl to take her first step in becoming a woman. I told her the truth. She nonchalantly replied, “Ok” and that was that. I asked how she felt and she was fine. She’d kind of suspected for a while.
I gave her the biggest hug realising that this was the moment it all changed. I thought back to all the Christmas mornings and the girls excitement in receiving their letters from Santa. Their joy at seeing the cake and carrots for Santa and the reindeers had been eaten. The meticulous planning of their Christmas lists with Katie handily including website links so he could show the elves what they needed to make. All gone forever, gutted. Life moves forward, children grow older, innocence disappears. I know it’s all inevitable but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Christmas will never be quite the same again.
Ist Date? No Thank You
As soon as I was old enough to want children of my own I knew one thing was certain. Anyone wanting to date them would be given a hard time by me. Since the girls have been getting older I’ve always joked to them and anyone else that they won’t be going on dates or leaving home. Instead, they’ll be staying here with us playing board games, watching trashy American tv and generally hanging out with us, their cool parents. Between you and me it wasn’t really a joke. The thought of them going on dates absolutely terrifies me.
Don’t get me wrong, the girls are both sensible and have a good sense of self but I don’t want any boy looking at them in THAT way. Whilst Jade has been obsessing over Zac Efron, Jamie Dornan and Hook from Once Upon A Time over the last year or so I’ve been ok. It’s just been a bit of fun from afar, nothing to worry about. Even when Jade told me that a boy she know called Bob (name changed for legal and moral reasons) and her were friends it was fine. They had common interests and it was all very innocent. After not seeing him for almost a year they bumped into each other.
That evening he texted her to say he’d always liked her and would she like to be his girl friend. If your almost 14 year old daughter was in this situation you’d probably think she’d do one of the following:
Don’t tell you about it then sneak away with him to France where they’ll eat baguettes and take selfies at the top of the Eiffel Tower dressed as giant bananas.
Declare that she’s deeply in love and is going to marry him one day. Any resistance to this statement will be met with hostility and will result in the France scenario above.
Start drinking, doing drugs and going clubbing with him. He’ll turn out to be either a drug dealing 35 year old or a hard drinking night club owner. Either way, not in any way suitable for your little princess.
No? Well thankfully my fears were unfounded. She came downstairs, showed us the text and asked for our help in replying. Just the mere fact that she did this made us feel that we’d done a good job bringing her up. She wasn’t sure about it as they’d been friends for a long time so suggested they go out on a date and see how it went. She did like him too and was excited to be going out with him. This was the moment I had been dreading for 30 years, this was the moment I look to the sky, wave my fists in anger and scream, “No one is good enough for my little girl.” Except I didn’t. I felt so proud of my grown up girl, I hugged her and told her how much I loved her.
The date a week later was lunchtime Sunday Sushi in Edgware and then back to his for a PlayStation jamboree. I picked her up afterwards and heard about it all the way home. I asked if he had tried or asked to hold her hand or kiss her. She gave me the most incredulous stare before blurting out, “What, of course not, no one does that on a first date.” Bless her. We then heard nothing for a month until she casually told us one day that she had finished with him by text.
I felt sad, shocked and slightly let down by this. I asked why she didn’t call him which would have been the decent thing to do. Her reply was curt and unwavering, “Daddy, no one calls these days and it would have been really awkward on the phone.” My arguments were met with complete disdain so that was that. Her first relationship over in a heartbeat. To be fair to her, her reasons were totally valid. She found it hard to see him as a boyfriend after a long friendship and didn’t feel she was ready to have a relationship with anyone. The upside of all this is that I still get to have her all to myself without any unsuitable boys (they’re all unsuitable) asking her out.
I’ve tried to treasure every moment I’ve had with the girls from their first breath to today. Right now they’re watching Friends as I type this. It seems like yesterday it was Peppa Pig that rocked their world.
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