My suggestions are met with a diatribe of derision
There is a certainty that seems to come with being a teenager. I'm not sure I remember feeling it myself. But my children seem to possess it in great quantities, particularly my two lads now aged 15 and 18.
Maybe it's because they see the world clearly divided.
Things are either good or bad. Films, music, books, TV, fashion, chocolate, days out. Almost anything in fact.
Take books. For several years now I have been trying to get my eldest son to read George Orwell's 1984. To be honest it's become a long-running joke. In fact, I nearly ordered him a copy for his last birthday. I'm not out to make a political point here but I just think it's a great thriller which made me think about the world differently.
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Maybe it had more resonance for me because when I read it, 1984 was just a few years into the future and the Soviet state was at its most potent. But as far as my children are concerned, 1984 is ancient history.
So whenever I suggest it would be worth reading it is met with a diatribe of derision.
Eldest son has frequently responded with something like: "Dad, I don't want to read some science fiction book about the future which he got wrong anyway."
I try to counter: "Well it wasn't really about the future, it was about a totalitarian society etc, etc …."
But by this point I have completely lost his attention, never mind his interest. Of course I should just shut up. But I don't because I am on something of a mission.
"You see, I read this book and then read all his books.
"And 1984 has one of those startlingly good opening sentences – 'It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.'"
"What's good about that?"
"Well, because in a few words he has created a mood, told you the sort of day it was, the time of year and hinted to you that things are different with the clocks striking thirteen."
My comments are met with a look of almost comic disbelief.
And my cause is lost.
"It's awful, Dad," says one of them
"You've never read it," I say. "You don't even know the story."
"Yes I have," says eldest son struggling to keep a straight face."
"So what's the name of the main character," I reply.
There is a moment's silence.
"Alan," he says.
By this time I too am laughing. "I think you'll find he's the pilot of Thunderbird Three," I say.
He lands a playful punch on my shoulder and walks away.
I turn to the laptop. I think I may just order a copy of 1984. You never know, he may read it one day.