I consider myself to be a very laid-back person. Super-chilled out. Sometimes people say to me, ‘Ben, if you were any more laid back you’d be horizontal’, and then they give a little sniffy laughter snort to themselves. Being as relaxed as I am, I just give them a nod and a little smile and think that actually a lie down sounds quite nice.
There are only really three things which really wind me up.
- Being ignored;
- Being talked over;
- Having to repeat myself.
Somehow, my children know this, and have perfected the knack of winding me up to the point of boiling rage in 7.2 seconds, which is also the amount of time it takes a Skoda Octavia to go from 0-62mph. That’s right, I read stuff.
And they do it so well. ‘Isaac, don’t do that,’ I say firmly, perhaps using my Very Angry Voice. (It doesn’t matter what ‘that’ is, so stop wondering.)
Nothing. He just straight up ignores me. I raise my voice slightly.
Nothing. I don’t know whether he’s just too engrossed in what he’s doing to listen to me, or maybe he’s just totally deaf and has been getting by on lipreading all this time. But it doesn’t matter, because by now my face is all red and there’s steam coming out of my ears. And the laid-back Ben is no more.
He finally acknowledges my presence, you know, me, his father, the man who is partly responsible for his very existence, he bothers to turn and look at me. And so I tell him off.
‘You know you shouldn’t be doing that,’ I say. ‘I’ve told you tim-’
‘Daddy, what’s for tea?’
‘What’s for tea?’
‘Have you listened to a word I’ve just said? What did I just say?’
‘Listen to me. I’ve told you time and tim-’
‘Daddy, I can shake my bum, look at me!’