I have a suspicion a few parents will relate to this. Particularly fathers. Particularly those fathers who have daughters.
Being a creature of habit, I paid a visit to my mother in her sheltered housing complex in Edinburgh's south side on Tuesday evening. Before I left the office to head there, I received a text message from my younger daughter Michaela.
Now this immediately raised my suspicions. Said daughter lives with one of her pals whose husband is fighting in Afghanistan. Michaela is there to give her some moral support (as if things weren't bad enough for the poor girl...) To cut a long story shorter, Michaela usually sends me a text message if she wants something. Usually money.
Are you going to Granny's tonight? I can pick you up after work.
My discomfort increased. She is going to see her Granny? And offering to pick me up? I was tempted to text back 'How much money do you want?' but I thought better of it and replied I would just see her round there. Which I did. And she gave me a lift home afterwards.
On the way back I sat in the passenger seat of her rather flash gold coloured MG sports car and waited for the bad news. There had to be bad news. There's no such thing as a free lunch with Michaela and I waited for the pitiful Daaad, can I borrow some money? request. But, to my surprise it didn't happen. She dropped me off, waved cheerio and was on her way. The last time she sent me a text message was a few weeks ago when she asked me to be the guarantor for said MG sports car. Naturally, being too soft for my own good, I agreed. I waited for her to tell me she wasn't going to be able to keep up the payments. But the words didn't come.
Today, I received another text message from Michaela.
Hiya Dad. What's that gig you want to go to next month?
I had mentioned my desire to see the fabulous ska band The Beat in Edinburgh next month. Darling daughter has now confirmed - with her third text message to me in two days - she has bought tickets for me for my birthday at the end of this month.
Touched as I am by my daughter's apparent concern for me and by her wish to get me something I actually want for a birthday present, my over-riding concern is one of anxiety. When your children reach adulthood you let them go and fend for themselves. The other side of that particular coin is they are determined to demonstrate they don't need you and, as is the case with Michaela and her older sister Laura, you can hear nothing from them for days. My running gag is that I only hear from my girls when they want something. Michaela is being nice to her poor, harassed, financially strained father and apparently looking for nothing in return.
Or will the phone ring tomorrow and I'll be greeted with the words 'Hello Mr Smith. I understand you agreed to be the guarantor for Michaela Smith...'