ROSIE GREEN: When the daughter met the boyfriend

ROSIE GREEN: When the daughter met the boyfriend

It’s 5.17am and we have already covered body positivity, US abortion laws, trans rights, menstruation and the impact Covid has had on teenagers’ sexual development. It’s a lot for the new boyfriend to take in. In a move no parenting expert would advise, the first proper meeting between my teenage daughter and my boyfriend is taking place in his car as we speed towards Gatwick airport. 

They have met once before, in passing, but barely exchanged five words. (My son has opted to postpone any meeting so I’m not going to force the issue.) She is going to see my father in Spain with her best friend; the boyfriend and I are going to Italy for a romantic mini-break. As the sun rises over the M3, talk in the back seat progresses from thigh gaps (against) to gay rights (for). Harry Styles gets a mention. As does the trend for oversized fleeces. 

Rosie Green (pictured) speaks about when her daughter met her boyfriend for the first time properly in the car on the way to Gatwick airport

At least she feels comfortable expressing herself (understatement). For the boyfriend, it is like an immersion course in woke teenage girls. He gamely joins in the diversity chat, even though, it’s fair to say, this is outside his area of expertise. I can see that he is gripping the steering wheel and perspiring slightly. 

Apart from an involuntary shriek from my daughter when I touch him on the arm (‘No public displays of affection!’), it goes well. We all know airports are conflict hotspots, so, you might ask, why would I introduce them properly under such stressful conditions? Well, my daughter and her friend were flying at roughly the same time as us, from the same terminal and, as they are airport novices, it would allow me to help them through. 

But I do realise it’s not ideal. ‘Wait a year to introduce them,’ say the manuals. I get a tick for that. ‘Introduce them on neutral ground in a public space in a low-stress situation.’ Hmm. So not a car heading to Gatwick airport in peak summer holiday season, then. What could go wrong? 

On arrival I’m reminded the conflict points are endless. At check-in there are two staff for approximately 1,000 people. The queue includes some shufflers (always trying to creep forward) and others wearing far too much Lynx Africa. It’s enough to raise anyone’s cortisol levels. I content myself with analysing the marker-penned-on eyebrows (though the daughter says this is unkind and she is right).

Mother and lover are not easy roles to balance. But I managed it 

There is the moment of panic as my case goes on the scale and I reassess the wisdom of including five shoe options for three nights away. But it all goes smoothly and we progress to security. My daughter and I realise there is no chance our toiletries are going to fit into the minuscule clear bag provided, so the boyfriend has to cram his with cherry lip balm, under-eye concealer and sparkly highlighter, garnering a raised eyebrow from the conveyor-belt operator. 

Once through security the girls disappear to spend the entirety of their holiday money in Accessorize and I decamp to Pret A Manger. Meanwhile, the boyfriend is buying gin to smuggle into our fancy hotel to create sundowners that don’t precipitate financial ruin. (We also plan to secrete as much of the breakfast buffet as possible into my beach bag for a zero-cost lunch. I’ve brought Tupperware for this purpose.) 

The girls request yogurt pots and pains aux raisins for the plane, then proceed to consume it all immediately. Fed, they go in pursuit of more lip balms, while the boyfriend and I congratulate ourselves on maintaining harmony in a high-pressure situation. Our flight is called. I bid them farewell. 

Mother and lover are not easy roles to balance. But I manage it. He manages it. And I can tell by my daughter’s demeanour that she feels neither threatened nor traumatised, but instead rather relieved. He listens, he is calm and considered, and manages not to look visibly shocked. Zero friction. It bodes well. We celebrate with the contraband gin. It’s 11.02am.