And last night's Wednesday night consisted of olds too, not just any olds either, these were my ones and, by definition, of the Sri Lankan variety.
Picking the girls up from their place is something that I do with decreasing frequency, as they now often make their own way to mine, fitting things into their "busy" schedules as they can! So K was first to arrive fresh from her day "at work". She's doing work experience, something most schoolkids here do at about this age; when they go off for a week to a local business or organisation to learn a bit about things in the "real" world.
I felt a bit disappointed to hear that K had already organised things and was going to be spending a week at a local school, as I had a sneaky wish that she might want to do the week at my company, which would have been unusual and fun, for me perhaps not for her. A, when she did hers a couple of years ago, had baulked at the idea of spending time with me as if I'd suggested she, well, spend a week with me.
Still, such is life, and K arrived full of "God Dad, you don't know what it's like, I've had a really busy day at work" and promptly grabbed my laptop, some Coke and chocolate biscuits and proceeded to virtually interact with all the friends who she hadn't heard from for what was probably at least several minutes.
For the next hour, until the elder sibling arrived, I made vague and mostly unsuccessful attempts at conversation with her. At one point I managed to get her attention for about fifteen seconds, but that proved the record as her phone beeped with a noise to indicate something that demanded her attention.
My questioning was good, a nice mix of open ended and closed ones. I tried to use variety, by feeding snippets of informations about my life that I thought K might be interested in and relating it to her life, but there was nothing. The open ended questions (which are ones that can't be answered by a yes or a no) were mostly answered with an "alright" or a grunt. In the end I gave up and started to cook. As my Dad often says, you can take a horse to water, but that doesn't make it a duck.
The Olds arrived later, quite excited to see the Granddaughters for the first time after their annual jaunt to the motherland, and were armed with the usual Grandparents' haul of presents and clothes. I'd got in the required stocks for keeping a Sri Lankan man over about sixty amused; alcohol and short eats, and so the chat flowed merrily and I fought the battle in my head about not engaging with my Mum.
K, though I had to talk to her about paying attention to my 'rents beforehand, became the most attentive child since the beginning of time, perhaps even before that, and I wondered if I should feel pleased or frustrated that she couldn't be like that for me.
Then A strolled in, which amused me. Every time she arrives now she stinks of cigarette smoke, then rushes to the bathroom, saying that she's desperate for the loo, where she obviously brushes her teeth and rinses her mouth out with mouthwash, to emerge smelling that mixed odour of distant tobacco smothered with minty things.
She knows I know she smokes, but gets stroppy and angry if I try to talk about it. I in turn feel that she's sixteen and can make her own decision about this and that I started to smoke at fifteen so can't really lecture her too much about it anyhow. If the Auf started to smoke I'd give him a right fatherly bollocking and he'd probably go off and stop, with my own child it's a different matter altogether.
The reason I was amused was because I knew that she'd have to kiss and hug my Mum before her bathroom visit and my Mum can smell cigarette smoke from a distance of about three miles with the wind blowing in the wrong direction. I'm sure it will surprise you to hear this but my Mum is also not the sort to keep quiet about these kind of things, unlike most Sri Lankan mothers.
I almost, I said almost, felt some sympathy for the onslaught I knew A was going to get. However, she deserved it and in my experience it only lasts about twenty years or so.
The strangest thing was that it never came. I don't know if my Mum is biding her time, highly unlikely as her relationship with subtlety is about as distant as mine with Jennifer Aniston's, or if her nasal abilities have deteriorated, but I do know that the worst thing one can do when Sri Lankan mothers are involved is to get yourself lulled into a false sense of security.
Just when A least expects it she'll bite. With all the force, drama and emotional blackmail that are also on the menu.
The Grand'rents left after a while and the three of us ate dinner. K wolfed it down and shot off at the speed of a Lankan bus driver to get back to Facebook and A and I were left to chew the cud. And the spaghetti bolognese.
We watched a bit of TV; Waterloo Road followed by Masterchef and then I dropped them back. The ten minute drive was punctuated with K flicking through the radio stations every few seconds, me telling her to turn it down, then thinking that it wasn't a very "cool Dad "thing to say, but perhaps okay as I did have a bit of a headache and I play in a couple of bands.
And I got back to the apartment as usual, looked around and thought that life is a funny old thing. I look forward to Wednesday evenings, go through them and wonder why, then drop the girls back and realise.
Because sometimes I miss all that crap with them. The fighting, the sighing and the total lack of conversation.