“£200 EACH??? You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“Stop fussing, we’ll pay you back. Now type your credit card details in there!”
About 12 months ago I was forced to sit at the computer with my credit card at the ready for 9am on the day of the ticket release, with the 2 of them breathing down my neck. “Click there! No!!! Not there! THERE!!! 2 tickets! Now, go to the checkout! NO!!! Click THERE!!!”
And so it is, a year later, my 16-year-old son, Rogan, is off to Scotland’s biggest music festival, T in the Park, today with his big sister, Holly. The festival is so popular, the tickets are released for the following festival barely a few days after the weekend is over, and are sold out within a matter of hours.
Holly paid me back within a couple of weeks, and Rogan immediately paid me about half from the last of his savings. After several months had passed, however, he didn’t look like he was going to come up with the rest of the money. Each time I mentioned it he’d give me a scornful “I know!” in that voice familiar to parents of teenagers the world over.
“I’m warning you, if you don’t pay me back, I’m selling your ticket on ebay the week before and doubling my money!” But he’d already left the room. Clearly he wasn’t taking me seriously.
To be honest, I was starting to get a little irritated, in that way familiar to parents of teenagers the world over. For some reason no one could fathom and Rogan couldn’t give a good reason for, he’d given up his cakes business, but hadn’t replaced it with any other form of money making process. He’d made vague noises about getting a paper round, although considering this would have meant getting up early and working many hours for peanuts, he didn’t put a huge amount of effort into tracking one down.
With a sinking heart I realised my son assumed I’d let him go anyway, regardless of whether he paid me back. And if that was the case, then where was the incentive to work to pay off the ticket?
I was going to have to convince him I wasn’t bluffing. Hell, I was going to have to convince myself I wasn’t bluffing – could I really face being the biggest bastard parent of all time who wouldn’t let him go when he’d been anticipating it all year? It’s one thing to know you have to be consistent with your children, but no parent wants to be despised by his child.
So over a series of talks earlier this year I managed to get him to see that if I let him off, then I would be teaching him all the wrong lessons in life. He had to learn that he couldn’t assume other people would just bail him out if he made no effort. And that lesson was so important, that I was prepared to be the biggest bastard parent of all time, however much I didn’t want to be.
Fortunately something clicked and that weekend he went up and down the high street of Castle Douglas, calling into shops asking if they needed anyone for a Saturday job. He met with no success. Eventually, however, it seemed to dawn on him that he had a track record of creating highly profitable home-baking stalls so he arranged to sell scones, cupcakes and tablet at Castle Douglas Food Town Day, The Kirkcudbright Medieval Fayre, and the Galloway Children’s Festival.
He made enough money to pay off his festival ticket, sort out bus and train tickets there and back, buy a sleeping bag and rucksack and still have plenty of spending money.
Apart from being very proud of him, I’m mainly just incredibly relieved that I didn’t have to become the biggest bastard parent of all time.
The two of them spent about 3 hours in the garden the other evening trying to figure out how to get the tent up. It was dry and sunny. The weather forecast for this weekend is for heavy rain and possibly lightening storms.
I expect I’ll be picking up two very wet people from the train station on Monday, full of stories of their adventures.