Thursday, 3 October 2013
A job well done
My eyes stray from the re-run of Friends on the television and fix upon my 22-year-old son sitting opposite me. Ryan is oblivious of my attention as he smiles at Joey Tribbiani’s inane ramblings. Over six-feet tall with a face chiselled like a sculpture of a Roman gladiator, I recognise why my eldest’s company is regularly sought by the young women in the locality. Quick-witted and bright, Ryan can find humor in most situations and, as his middle-aged dad, I often find myself the target of his quips. I reflect on how stubborn and argumentative he can be, and his low threshold for anger that, when activated, propels him into a volcanic eruption, molten lava singeing anyone within a 50-metre radius. But despite these foibles, he is an honest lad with a strong work ethic. Since leaving school at 17 he has not had a day off work, nor has he brought the police to our door. “He’s my son,” I think to myself, “and I’m so proud of him”.
My eyes shift to Becca, my 19-year-old daughter, sitting to my right on the sofa. She too is unaware of my gaze as she escapes into the world of Rachel Green, smiling and pouting in unison with the sitcom star. I recall hearing how, on her recent holiday in Gran Canaria, Becca and her friend stumbled upon a 17-year-old boy lying unconscious on the pavement, surrounded by pools of his own vomit. It was early evening and the resort was busy, but people were avoiding him, acting as if he wasn’t there. But my girl stopped to help. After 20 minutes of striving to extract sense out of the drunken youth, she was able to ring the lad’s granddad to come and collect him. Knowing the youth’s guardian was en route, Becca and her friend made to leave until the disorientated young man pleaded, “Please don’t leave me”. So Becca stayed with him until granddad arrived; the old man offered her money for her kindness (which she declined) and his parting comment was, “I hope he eventually marries a nice girl like you”. I inhale and my chest expands like a peacock’s plumage. I think to myself, “That’s my girl; beautiful inside and out”.
I become aware of being watched, and turn to my left to see Mrs Jones smiling at me. It is rare these days for me and Mrs Jones to have both of our progeny with us in the same room. After 32 years together, telepathy between us is commonplace. At this instant in time she knows precisely what I’m thinking. While our children remain oblivious to our attentions, Mrs Jones lip-syncs the words, “A job well done”.