I'm sure I'm not the first or the last divorced Dad to wish I could have some more time with my kids and, now that they're fifteen and seventeen I'm also aware that, whether their parents are divorced or not, the last thing they want to do is to spend time with either of them anyhow. No, the only thing that matters, mostly, to teenage kids, is spending time with their friends.
Four years down the road though, I still find myself pining to be able to tuck them up, to say goodnight and to have them around to get angry with. Except on Wednesdays and alternate Fridays of course.
But one of the positives is that I appreciate time with them that much more, with every hour and snatched minute feeling precious to me. More often than not the girls just take things in their stride, though I can see that it's also hard for them at times. I'm sure it's hard in different ways for their mother too, such is the shadow of divorce and its after effects.
As they've got older the time they spend with me has become less organised and official. These days the "official" days happen when they're free, or they're mixed with them seeing their friends. Often they won't come to mine because of social stuff they've got going on and, though it's a bit of a bummer for me, I figure that's just part of them getting older.
The other side of that coin is that they pop in now and again and we can occasionally get to do things on an ad hoc basis if it suits. Fortunately for me their mother is very easy going about these sort of things and lets them do things they want to. Sometimes I hear horror stories about the behaviour of ex wives and realise that I'm quite lucky.
And another thing I've realised is that it's important to try to get time alone with each of the girls, as well as time with them both together. When you're all living together you never think about this sort of stuff, it just happens. But post divorce I've begun to see that the dynamics when I'm alone with either A or K are very different to when the three of us are together. It's important to try to nurture the one on one time without taking away from the three of us time.
This weekend A had gone off to the Reading festival, which is a music festival in the town of Reading, not a get together when they read books. Just so you know. So, on Saturday I texted K and asked her if she wanted to come with me to visit my parents on Sunday. She replied in the affirmative, which pleased and slightly surprised me.
I drove over to collect her at almost the appointed time. It was confusing. I had said twelve, then texted her to say twelve thirty, then arrived at twelve fifteen. She wasn't ready and my experience suggests that she wouldn't have been ready whenever I'd arrived. I waited around for a few minutes while she "did her hair" and then we set off.
She'd asked if we could stop off at two places en route; a friend's house to deposit a jumper and then a shop where she could buy a sketch pad for her art homework. We did both, then finally headed off to my parents'. The short car journey was punctuated by K's constant flicking through the radio stations in search of music that she approves of. It's incessant with her, even when she finds a song she likes it's unusual that she listens to the whole thing before changing channels in search of the next.
It's also a reflection of her approach to life; a continuing search for the next thing to see or do. Or eat. There's no rest with her, it's all go, go, go.
Our arrival was a surprise for the 'rents, a pleasant one I think.
We got comfortable and settled ourselves. It was to be a few hours of general hanging around, nothing special, just some sitting there and spending time with each other, hopefully all happy in our respective worlds. K googled for some pictures of Rambutans to draw for her art project and proceeded to draw, I sat and fended off the usual line of interrogation from my Mum and my Dad did his usual and ignored everything.
Some lunch was consumed, more hanging was done and, at around four o'clock we started to say our goodbyes. We set off again, this time heading for my office, as I had my drums in the car and wanted to leave them there. It's a few years since A or K have been to my office and I was quite excited about the prospect of K being there again. When they were small they used to come there fairly often and both have memories of the people, of going to Toys R Us, which is just opposite, and eating McDonalds for lunch.
The journey comprised of more radio channel surfing and a farting competition. Frankly I think it was unfair, as farting whilst driving is actually quite hard, well the lifting your cheeks thing to let it out is. The smells in the car were pretty repulsive, even if I say it myself. I lost, but took the loss with maturity.
We got to my work and K went into the warehouse and began to "scoot" around it on one of the big cages on wheels we have there. She's fifteen, but this was like uninhibited childishness. I liked it, yet was slightly wary on behalf of the contents of the warehouse, a worry that proved quite worthwhile when K collided with a large table and I had to readjust things rather rapidly.
After some more messing around and some unloading of drum kit we set off again, this time heading to drop K home. The half hour journey was punctuated by yet more channel surfing but thankfully no farting competition. We didn't talk much, both being a bit tired and happy to not say too much. We pulled up, kissed goodbye and K went in and I went home.
I spent most of the evening feeling nicely content, something that was a bit of a surprise. I'd really enjoyed the mellow chilling with K and felt happy that she was happy to spend the time, that one on one time, with me.
My day was complete when I got a phone call from A a bit later on. She was at the Reading festival and calling me so I could hear Muse, one of our favourite bands, start their set. The sound was too muffled for me to pick out anything, but I'd heard A talking enough to know what it was. I was chuffed that she'd thought of me.
All in all it was a damn fine day.