The other day, we were listening to Electric Light Orchestra while preparing dinner in the kitchen. This in itself isn’t news. We listen to Jeff Lynne et al whenever we need cheering up so, given the year everyone has been experiencing, we listen to them a lot.
The song Telephone Line started playing. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it begins with the legendary bearded frontman singing dolefully and as if onto an answering machine.
As he leaves gaps between each sentence, it would be fundamentally wrong not to answer each one. So I do. I’ve got a whole narrative going on and everything.
In my version, I’ve bumped into Jeff Lynne, bought him a pint on account of his excellent music and now he has the wrong idea and keeps phoning me, wanting to be BFFs. Yes, it’s daft whimsy but my wife thinks it’s hilarious so it has become ‘a thing’ in our house.
And so it was that the line “Okay, so no-one’s answering” had been uttered and I had responded with: “Yeah, take a hint Jeff” when oldest walked in. “Dad, you’re embarrassing me,” he said.
And there it was. Quite without trying, I had achieved a long-term goal ahead of schedule. I am officially an embarrassing parent. I wasn’t expecting to reach this proud milestone until he’s a teenager. But I’ve managed to do so soon after his tenth birthday.
So, now the genie’s out of the bottle, I have plans. Dancing is obviously going to be up there among them. We’ve got a friend’s wedding to attend once life returns to normal, so I’m really looking forward to that.
Assuming there’s a DJ who takes requests, I’m asking for the Macarena. I also intend on pulling out some of my best moves for other songs. These include the lawnmower, the lasso and, of course, the twanged hamstring.
Then there’s the school run. Since the first lockdown, I’ve only been able to do the drop-off. There’s not much scope for being an embarrassing parent here, as he goes straight in while his brother waits with me for his start time.
But now I’ve lost my job to the pandemic, I can do the pick-up too. Yay! I’m considering turning up in fancy dress and shouting and waving. He’ll love that!
He starts at secondary school in September so we’re not a million miles away from him introducing us to a partner. I’ve been meaning to get prints of some of our millions of digital photos for some time, so here’s a perfect excuse.
So, far from being saddened at being an embarrassing parent, I’m going to wear it like a badge of honour. I think I’m going to enjoy this next chapter of my parenting journey – and I have three kids to embarrass!