Sunday, 5 June 2011

Freewheeling Through Conflict, Or How To Fall Out With Everyone In Less Than One Day.

Honestly, family life is so over-rated. It's only tea-time, and already no-one's speaking to anyone else.

"I've bought Robbie's old bike," says Josh, wheeling it into the house at lunchtime. "So now I've got wheels again."

"Oh, God," says Max, presumably envisaging further trips to A&E.

Josh glares at him, but is immediately distracted by Connie, who's still flushed with the success of her first driving lesson, which took place yesterday.

"You'll only be on two wheels," she says, "while I shall be driving around on four in no time at all. My instructor says that I'm a natural."

The rest of us glance at each other, but Josh is the only person unwise enough to actually mention Connie's surprising ability to ride a bike straight into any hedge she happens to pass.

"Ah, yes," she says. "But that was only when I rode an ordinary bike."

"With stabilisers," says Josh.

"Yeah, well," says Connie, moving swiftly on. "What about when I rode that quad bike when we went to Wales?"

That's a memory I'd prefer to forget, especially now that she's learning to drive a car. Connie rode the damn thing as if she was a possum sitting astride a charging rhino. Calling her a speed freak would be to understate the case.

"Hope I never meet her driving along the M4 when she's grown up," said the owner, and the rest of us agreed, though Connie took it as a compliment. You can't say she's not capable of positive thinking, even though she hasn't even read any self-help books as far as I know.

"I got to third gear yesterday," she says. "And I used my windscreen wipers. So who's the best driver in the family now?"

"Me," says Max.

I may be the only adult in the room who has never driven into the back of anyone at a roundabout - and definitely not twice - but I'm already regretting pointing this out.

Now Max isn't talking to me; Connie's ignoring Max and Josh; and Josh is furious with all of us: Connie because she reminded him that he didn't manage to graduate to a proper quad bike in Wales, and was only deemed safe to drive a children's go-kart; and Max and me because we've locked Robbie's old bike and won't unlock it until it has some brakes.

Apparently, we're stupid because no-one uses brakes these days.

"You should appreciate that, Dad," Josh says to Max. "Seeing as you reckon you only hit those people at the roundabouts because they hesitated, and then slammed their anchors on without any warning."

Josh seems to think that that clinches it. Judging by Max's expression, it probably does.

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