As the girls get older it's becoming clear that just being stylish, good looking and playing the drums in a band isn't enough for me to be classed as a cool Dad. No, it's becoming clear that the only way to be a cool Dad is to be the father of other children, not in that way either.
What I mean is that so and so, a friend of A, might have a cool Dad, but the friend concerned won't think so. Or, one's own children will never think that their Dad, or Mum for that matter, is cool.
Indyana's recent post reminded me of this. I'm in a similar Facebook situation. K rather begrudgingly accepted my friend request, then embarked on a spree of scorn and criticism. A has flatly refused to be a friend, even though Academic Bro (her Uncle) and just about every other relative you can think of are all friends with her. Academic remarked to me last week that "I see A is planning to dye her hair green" and I had to sheepishly admit that I didn't know this as she isn't a friend.
But Indyana's post reassured me, in a very scarce "two wrongs DO make a right" sense. Phew, I thought once I'd read it, all kids turn their noses up at parents, it's not just my kids.
Last Saturday I was driving with K in the direction of Kingston, our local fairly large shopping town. We were going to meet A there and the girls, handbags stuffed to the brim with pocket and spending money, were going to go off and buy things while I mooched in a mooching father sort of way.
K's knowledge of music is vast and mature, in a way that a chap like Theena would probably smile approvingly at. It's both unnerving and freaky when you see things in your kids that remind you of yourself at that age, this is one such example.
"Do you like the Smashing Pumpkins Dad?" She asked, out of nowhere.
"Well I'm a bit unsure about them to be honest" said I.
"I've only got one or two of their albums and I've never really listened to them properly but I seem to like a few of their songs a lot, then not really like the others much. There's a song called Today that I love, all about positivity and things." I continued.
"That's funny, they've also got a song called Tonight, haven't they?" She said. This is the kind of smartness she possesses.
"Yes they have, that's true. " I said, ponderingly.
I then told K about Jimmy Chamberlain, the Smashing Pumpkins' drummer. I told her about his battles with drugs, him being fired from the band but then reinstated after a few years because of how integral he was to the sound, as well as the fact he'd cleaned himself up. I told her that he was a really brilliant drummer and that, for that reason alone, I should listen more to the band.
She listened to each and every word with interest and keenness. I knew that she was listening, not just hearing me. It was one of those bonding moments that I actually have quite a lot of with K, but are less with A since the divorce.
A few minutes later we were in Kingston. I asked K what she was intending to buy. She answered and then asked me the same question. I told her, almost without nerves, that I was going to have another look at a leather jacket that I had seen before and that I might buy it. My nerves were justified, though K could probably smell the fear and only pounced because of the smell.
"Uuuuurgh you can't buy a leather jacket."
"Because you're too old."
"What do you mean I'm too old?"
"Because you can't wear a leather jacket at your age Dad. Anyway how old are you? You're about forty five or something now aren't you? That's way too old for a leather jacket."
"No actually, I'm not 'about forty five' I'm forty two." And I said it in that mocking sarcastic tone, the one that the two girls usually use towards me.
"No, I reckon you're about forty four or forty five, wait what was it Mum said?"
I was getting a bit annoyed. It was like quibbling about the cost of an expensive meal. It wouldn't matter that much anyway, it would still be expensive whatever the end result.
"No, I'm forty two, honestly." She looked like she was starting to believe me. I won the battle.
"It doesn't matter, that's still too old to wear a leather jacket."
"So how come Appa can wear one then?" I asked.
"He's cool, that's ok." She threw, casually and quickly, in my direction.
"It's fine if you don't care about my opinion, just go ahead and buy it if you want, but I'm telling you you're too old."
"Well K, I listen to your opinion but I don't have to do what you say all the time, do I?"
She considered this for around three nanoseconds.
"No of course not Dad, you do what you want to do."
I waited, knowing that there'll be more to come. I was right.
"But you can forget about all this bonding stuff we've been doing."
The girls went off in one direction, we'd arranged to meet up in an hour or two. There was an awkward bit when we found that we were all walking along together, even though we had parted. They solved this by ducking into a shop that they weren't in the least bit interested in just to get rid of me.
I marched to the leather jacket shop. I tried on the jacket. For some reason it didn't look as good nor feel as comfortable as it had the last time I tried it on. I left it.
K won the war.
But I know that it was entirely my decision not to buy the jacket.