THIS is a true story and it starts in the days when life was simple. Once upon a time teenagers went out while their parents waited up with a rolling pin, in case anyone accidentally became pregnant. Then life changed beyond recognition. A pill was invented, a remarkable pill that convinced my generation of two things. Firstly, no-one was ever going to get accidentally pregnant again. Secondly, none of us were going to be heavy-handed parents with OUR children. We'd be better than that.
Then another remarkable thing happened. The divorce rate soared.
I make no connection between these two events but, as I said to my teacher friend Douglas only last week, all this marital breakdown has turned my generation back into teenagers again.
Doug had been single for two years, his girlfriend, Marie, for three, before they met at one of those events designed to encourage closer relations between parents and teachers. Fortunately Marie's daughter, Celeste, has now moved schools. No longer in loco parentis, Doug felt free to suggest that he and Maie go away for a week's holiday. All was arranged. Marie, though Catholic, was cool. Celeste would stay with her father and he, though also Catholic, was also cool. Coolness abounded until 13 year-old Celeste threw a spanner in the works. She did not want her mother going out with Doug The Divorcee. Sex was only acceptable within the confines of marriage.
Wrong-footed by 30-year-old values from her teenage daughter, Marie prevaricated. After all, she and Douglas might marry...
Celeste became grimmer and more adamant than any parent. For her emotional wellbeing it was essential that Marie stayed at home. Even dating meant dereliction of maternal duty.
As term ends, Doug is still unsure of where he's holidaying this year. For Marie, things are worse. She belongs to a generation who believed we could give our children everything, including sex that was guilt and pregnancy free.
Yet what so many of our kids are asking for these days is parents who do not believe in sex. I can see her point: it's what we all had, after all.