As an ad hoc event I had K at my place last Saturday night. Her sister was out at a party, a phenomenon I'm sure I'll have to get used to, and her mother asked if I could have her for the night. It was something that I readily agreed to, an opportunity to see one of the girls outside of the pre agreed schedule is welcomed and treasured, by me at least.
It's funny how being divorced changes the dynamics of the father and daughter relationship, well funny in a non humorous way and far more so when the father is the one who moves out. There are many things that happen, some I've mentioned before and some I'll continue to bore you with in the future, but one little specific one is the way that, when there is more than one child in the family, the "detached" parent rarely gets time on a one to one basis with any of them.
Almost all of our time together is the three of us. Occasions when one is away at a friend's place or out for whatever reason are rare yet were commonplace when we lived in the same house. And it's not a situation that a divorced parent wants to change. There is a schedule agreed by all, it's hardly practical, or even desired, for me to see if I can override it and, instead of seeing both kids, ask to see one. I want to see them both but we all miss out on the one to one thing a bit.
So this bonus visit was eagerly anticipated. I bought things for K to eat, all chocolate flavoured. I bought chicken (not chocolate flavoured) and baby corn and bits to make dinner with. I didn't anticipate a highly adventurous evening but I was sure we'd have some fun, probably music related.
All was going according to plan, not that I had a plan. I picked her up, we watched some TV, I cooked dinner, we shared some music knowledge and I listened to her teenage babble, trying to filter out the sense from the nonsense. I've always been good with kids, ever since I went to school with them.
K is music obsessed at the moment and as you probably guess I'm very happy about that. She spends a huge amount of time watching the music channels on TV and pays particular attention to the more rocky and indie type of stuff. I love that she's so interested in music and I adore her passion for it. It's not just like a teenager who likes music, it runs deeper than that and I know it because I was the same at that age.
A (her 14yr old sister) and I can happily talk about drums and drummers as that's her thing. We can chew the cud about a particular groove or I can watch her play and add my humble opinion about how she can play better. But K and I talk about music, about the way a band sounds or, as we did the other day, how some singers don't sound as good live as in the studio.
All well and good you may think. And it was, until K suggested a round of "Guess the Video". We'd eaten dinner. I'd had more rice than was strictly necessary and K had had about double that and she was busily flicking through the music channels on the TV. As kids do she was scanning them and stopping as soon as she found a song that took her fancy.
We established the rules of engagement. She would continue the scanning and we would race to identify the artiste to get a point. Of course if the title came up on screen before one of us had made our guess then it was null and void and we'd move on the next channel. We were a bit unclear on the need to name the song and that suited my game plan. I figured that my age, wisdom gleaned through the years and my overall knowledge of music would put me in the driving seat. I may not be able to name the song but I can recognise Britney Spears' semi naked form in less time than it takes for a tri shaw driver to spot a tourist in Odel's car park.
K moved into an early lead, which alarmed and disappointed me. Pride in your kids' achievements and abundance is all well and good until they start to beat you in Guess The Video. There are about ten music channels that we were surfing through on a continual basis and around three or four of them were "oldie" type ones, ones that played all time great, songs from the nineties, maybe even earlier. I realised quickly that these channels were my trump cards.
K was steaming ahead on the highly current ones, the songs featuring these rapping type of fellows, Beyonce, Kanye West and people like that. I was doing okay on the older stuff, the channels kicking out 4 non blondes, Guns And Roses and the like. We were battling it out head to head when it came to the Kerrang channel. It's one that used to show only heavy rock but now churns out heavy rock and the more Indie rock stuff like Muse and My Chemical Romance, the things that K spends all her time listening to.
One channel was running a programme called "Stadium Rock Hits of the 80s", which suited my skill set to a tee. Every time we came to that one I was quick off the mark and unstoppable, like Lewis Hamilton coming out of the pits.
"Eye of the Tiger, Survivor" I'd say and hear K groan as I won a point.
"Europe, The Final Countdown" and there'd be another groan and another point to the Dad side.
But the odds were against me.
"4 minutes, Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake and Timbaland" would be out of K's mouth in even less time than it would take me to recognise one of Madonna's breasts.
"One Last Kiss by Medina Lake". Damn, I thought as I was beaten again.
It went on, I acknowledged the fact, quietly and in my head, that I needed to get some practice in or I'd risk losing my "Cool Dad" reputation.
Once the score got to 15-10, in favour of K, I sensibly decided that it was bedtime for her. It was nothing to do with the score, just lateness. I sent her off to bed and did about half an hour of working on my game.
I scrolled through the videos and got ready for the next morning's battle.
Then I lost that one too!