how's it going"
Is what the text message from K, the 12 year old, said. It came through at about 4 PM on Friday afternoon and I was at work and on the phone.
"Hmmm... that's nice, that she's just asking how I am, very unlike her." I thought to myself. Stupidly. Do thoughts go inside speech marks? "I don't know". I think.
I thought I'd call her after I finished the phone call. Five minutes later I received another text from K. This one said:
Clearly K was getting impatient for an answer. Sweet, I thought.
I sent a one handed reply:
"On phone will call when done"
I left it and wouldn't have given it any further thought if, some minutes later, I hadn't received the next one.
"Dad I've been thinking. I think me and A (the elder sister) should get an increase in our pocket money."
Not so sweet, I thought, but negotiations would be fun and tough.
Some time later I called her. Her opener was straight to the previously raised point.
"Dad, I think me and A should get more pocket money."
Although there is two years between them they have always received the same amount, £20 a month. On top of that they get spending money on an ad hoc basis from me and their mother and I buy most of their clothes and things. In these traumatic teenage times they use the money for music, extra clothes and whatever else.
"Why?" I replied.
"Well because the £20 isn't enough for us now and we haven't had an increase for a few years."
I agreed with the second bit and thought over the first.
"What do you mean it's not enough? You've got loads of money and you get extra on top of that from me and your Mum, like when I gave you that extra £20 last week when we went shopping because you wanted to buy a birthday present for someone." I felt my case was watertight.
"Well that proves it, we need more." Clearly my case was watertight, about as much as one of those House of Fashion briefcases. My many years of selling, of negotiating with highly trained buyers and of buying from highly trained negotiators meant nothing to K, as she tore into me with the kindness and compassion of Simon Cowell trying to get rid of a Jehovah's Witness.
The parents among you will no doubt understand my predicament. You see, when faced with a smart arsed kid, one of your own, coming up with things that you're actually quite proud of, there's a huge temptation to give them what they're after just because they've presented it so cleverly.
K is eager, careful and cunning with her money. She gets that from her mother. She knows how much money she has at any stage of her life. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of her own financial matters and, in years to come, I'd hate to be the taxman who was chosen to investigate her financial matters.
"You've got loads of money, like "£130 or something in your room."I countered.
"£137.50 actually, but that's my credit crunch money."
"My credit crunch money. I'm worried about the credit crunch so I'm saving it just in case."
Hmmm, or "hmmm" I thought, yet again. Another approach was required.
"Yes, but I haven't got any spare money at the moment, that's why I'm living with Archa and Appa these days, so I can save money."
"Exactly." she said.
"So think of all the money you're saving, surely you can give some of it to us."
"K", don't push it." I laughingly snarled at her, in a fake angry parent tone.
"I'm not, it's just your lack of anger management kicking in."
"No it's not." I shouted back.
"I'll tell you what." I said. "If you come back to me and tell me what all your friends get, then we'll look at it."
"So you want me to do some primary research then?"
I felt as though a bear must feel when he puts his foot in a snare and realises he's trapped, that instant feeling of wishing that you could go back a fraction of a second. Or "grrrr" as a bear might say.
"What do you mean? I asked.
"Is my smart language confusing your brain Dad? I mean do you want me to do some initial findings?" And, as she said it, I could have sworn I heard the sound of paper unfolding. I told her that I wanted some more information about the pocket money her friends got. That's where I discovered that it was paper unfolding; a list, a list of her friends and their pocket money figures. She read it out, though I have a feeling that she knew it by heart anyway. If the list was to be believed I was on a hiding to nothing.
I told her that I'd ask around myself, that I was hardly going to believe the figures she'd come up with, and that we'd talk about it on Wednesday when I have them next. She, like a true salesperson, has chased me up and tried to close me already.
Yesterday morning's phone conversation contained lines like
"So are you closer to a yes or to a no?"
"Did you speak to Mark (her friend's Dad) yet?"
What with both her parents being salespeople I shouldn't be at all surprised.
Wednesday will be fun.
In an expensive sort of way.