“Oh pleeezzzeeee! Daddy pleeeezzzeee! Can’t we do just one more time? Just one more before we go home.” Seven year old Jasmine’s incisive voice managed yet again to resonate through the vehicle in inverse proportion to her size and age.

Donald Cunningham was tired. The family had been visiting all weekend and as far as he was concerned the return to his desk at the bank on Monday morning would come as a light relief from his weekly two day reminder that he was a father. He glanced into the rear seat and saw Jasmine’s two year old brother, Peter, asleep. “I’m not the only one who’s too tired to do any more times,” Donald thought to himself.

“Come on Daddieeeee! Say yes Daddieee! Daddieeee! Say yes. Pleezeeeee!!!” Donald’s clear preference was for a return to home and a Sunday evening in front of some video, slippered feet propped up on a stool and a bottomless bottle of single malt.” But over seven years of living with  Jasmine, he had progressively come to realise it was about as much use arguing with her as it was holding up a stop sign to a charging bull. He turned to Maria, his wife, sitting next to him and was about to raise an eyebrow questioningly. Donald had long since learned that whilst he, a mere father, was an easy target for his daughter’s manipulation, her mother acquitted herself with much more fortitude in such confrontations. But the non-verbal request for moral support fell upon sleeping eyes. He knew he was without an ally in the Olympic level confrontation that was about to erupt with his daughter.

Donald considered the universe of possible responses to Jasmine’s demands. Option A was to deny the child’s thoroughly unreasonable request, confident of taking the moral high ground, since they had done four times that weekend all ready. But moral superiority was about as much use as an intimate familiarity with quantum physics in negotiations with a seven year old. If he chose option A it came at a price: screams and tears all the way home and an eventual reprimand from his wife who would no doubt manage to contrive some reason why the child’s dark demeanour was his fault. Naturally, it could so easily have been avoided if he, Donald, had simply taken a different tack with her. Then there would be a row with Maria herself and the evening would end with his wife in floods of tears in the spare bedroom, instead of the rather more pleasant occurrence that he was prone to expect at about eleven pm on a Sunday evening in their own room.

To be continued

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