I've been promising The Youngest a girls' trip for a while now. She's at that age where I thought she'd appreciate some alone time with her mother. I'd envisaged us bonding over the journey, talking about 'stuff', the kind of stuff you don't get around to talking about normally because life sort of gets in the way.
So I booked a hotel in Cork. I couldn't go further afield because I would almost certainly get lost en route. But Cork was good. Far enough away to feel we were on our holidays and close enough to be able to find our away back.
Any illusions I had of us bonding on the journey were quickly shattered when she put on her earphones and plugged herself into Spotify. 'Do you not want to talk?' I asked, removing one headphone. She looked blankly at me and said: 'No thank you.' Well, at least she was polite, I suppose.
When we got to the hotel I suggested we throw the bags into the room and hit the shops. She took off her shoes, jumped on the bed and said: 'Let's just chill for a while.' Chilling, in case you're not in possession of a teen, means lolling about on beds plugged into an electronic device of some description.
'We are here to have fun, not to sit on the bed listening to Spotify,' I told her, handing her her shoes. There was a certain amount of muttering under the breath but she did what she was told. We walked down a festive Patrick Street, singing along with the Christmas tunes that were playing.
I stopped outside Brown Thomas, my most favourite shop in the world, where I never buy anything because I don't want to take out a second mortgage or sell a kidney.
'Let's just go in for a look,' I suggested. Twenty minutes later I had parted with €161 after buying the secret of eternal youth and The Youngest was getting a free makeover. 'Oh my God you look so grown up,' I said as I watched her preen in the mirror. I resisted the urge to pick up a wipe and scrub her face. Just as well her father wasn't there.
'C'mon, we'll do your shops now,' I said, referring to the hallowed halls of Penneys and H&M. She wandered around the aforementioned shops half heartedly picking up tat and putting it back again, shrugging her shoulders at everything I suggested.
After an hour I admitted defeat. 'Well, where do you want to go then? Will we go back to the hotel for a drink?' I thought longingly of an ice cold G&T.
She looked up at me beguilingly. 'Can we go back to Brown Thomas? I don't really like Penneys any more.'
I have created a monster!