As I write, it’s 3.10pm on a sunny Sunday and a boy is still in bed in a darkened room which smells strongly of man-feet and night-farts. Having peeked at the motionless figure on the hour, every hour, for the last 4 hours, I choose to leave him to wake naturally.
I choose not to rouse this somnolent boy for fear that he erupts from his bedchamber demanding to exercise the legal rights and entitlements afforded to him now he has reached the age of 16.
I wish to delay as long as possible the risk of him springing from his bed and announcing his decision to leave school, leave home and live on unemployment benefit.
I am not keen to hear of his determination to marry at once and I’m even less keen to be put into a half-nelson while he kneels on my neck until I grant my permission for his nuptials.
I completely dread hearing that he has signed up for the army and is off to die in Afghanistan as soon as he’s completed his basic training.
And I’m simply ignoring the question of s-e-x; he seems to be so popular with girls he has to beat them off with a stick and I’m fairly confident, given that he’s over 6’2”, that he’d be more than capable of beating off with a stick any elderly queen who might press him with unwelcome attentions.
So I choose to concentrate on the slightly less worrying things my first-born may do now that he is 16. I understand, for example, that he can spend his pocket-money on a wide range of things he couldn’t buy when he was 15. Apparently he is old enough to buy himself an endless succession of small pets such as hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits and rats. I’m rather hoping he isn’t yet old enough to buy snakes, scorpions or tarantulas but I’m not banking on it.
He’s also entitled to purchase a lottery ticket and if his numbers come up he can trot back to the pet shop and spend his winnings on even more small animals if so he wishes. He might want to trawl the shops buying all the paracetamol he can carry and all the liqueur-chocolates he can guzzle. He can apparently also pick out for himself some darts, some baseball-bats and a few axes if the fancy takes him but he might still have to enlist the help of an 18-year old chum if he wishes to buy a sharp knife. Strangest of all, it is now legal for him to buy scrap metal.
My son is also entitled to choose his own GP so he may make me drive him to every medical practice in the area before we pull up to a restaurant where he can legally enjoy beer or wine with his meal. Or he may prefer to take to the open road perched giddily on a 50cc moped, but since he already rides a brute of a Moto-cross bike I don’t think he’ll be tempted by this one.
No, astonishingly, the boy in question seems either oblivious to or uninterested in all his newly-acquired rights except one: he knows he’s old enough to drive a tractor on the road and plans to obtain his provisional licence and pass his test in time to drive himself and his date to their school-prom in a JCB Fastrac tractor. Ye Gods. The young lady’s parents will be thrilled when they hear of this plan.
Anyway, while he’s in bed and asleep he’s not doing any of the above, so I’ll leave him to his slumber and for one reason above all others: my son knows and I know that he knows he is now old enough to call the Jeremy Kyle Show and could do so at any time.
I’m happy to leave him in bed until Wednesday if it means I avoid appearing on a show entitled “My mum woke me up before teatime and I want revenge!”.