There comes a moment in every parent's life when you realise that you are turning into your own Mum and Dad. It comes when you catch yourself saying a stock phrase used by your parents; one that you swore you would never utter. It could be something like, 'don't come running to me if you break you leg' or, the one my mother aimed at me regularly in desperation, 'Do you look for every puddle to jump in on your way home'. What fun days; when finding a puddle of mud meant adventure and not avoidance!
My wife and I overheard a young mother saying to her four-year old son 'Do you try to find every possible way to annoy me when we are out shopping'. As if rational discussion is possible with the naughtiness of a child.
I am sure that other saying will immediately spring to your mind, most of which will seem to revolve around some common truth. Firstly, they are usually born out of frustration and therefore rarely produce a change in the child’s behaviour. Secondly, they are often an exaggeration and as such impossible to defend. Thirdly, they are often more of a commentary on the parent's lack of joy than the child's free spirit.
Either way, once you have offspring of your own, the urge to say them is irresistible and is indeed one sign that you are becoming like your own parents.
There was another instance when I realised that I was turning into my father. I was sat on the sofa, in that Saturday afternoon post lunch, half dream state that seems to be so much a part of my life these days, when I spotted my dad's hand in my peripheral vision. I recognised it straight away and then immediately knew it could not be his. Firstly, he was 48 miles away across the Pennines and I felt sure that his Post Office training didn’t include warp speed travel. Secondly, the hand was connected to my arm at the wrist and I could operate it by simply thinking. Before this moment it had never occurred to me that I was looking more and more like dear old dad; but then in a split second I was faced with this obvious truth.
So what other changes await me as I surge onwards on life's conveyor belt. Will I start to miss whole portions of a film because I am distracted trying to remember what I have seen the actors in before? Will I start to read the obituary column just see if any old school chums have passed away?
Will I spend the best part of the day looking for my glasses case just because I want to use the pen stored in it?
I am not sure what brings about this change and at what age you count as being old. I was on a bus not too long ago when two teenagers stood and offered me a seat. I wanted to be so very proud of them in what was a great example of how young people are good at heart. I calmly asked them to sit down and never offer me a seat again as, at half a dog year under 50, I was not ready to be accorded such a dubious honour. They understood the humour in my comments and I thanked them for the sentiment.
I know that some things are true about the aging process. Firstly, there is an invisibility with age. The bus example not withstanding, it is general true that I can walk through any public place unnoticed because I just look like anyone of the other middle aged, well-rounded, slightly balding men.
Secondly, youth has such energy, passion and attractiveness it seems that even when teenagers wear all black they appear to living in full colour, therefore I want to say that youth is NOT wasted on the young; they seem to do their best to enjoy it. Perhaps it is just that old age is wasted on the old.
Anyway I am off to watch a Black and White film on TV, after all they are so much better than those in colour. They don’t make them like they used to.