A few months ago, when my sixteen-year-old daughter was going through some emotional upheaval (for the first time in her life), I put my arms around my little girl and wished I could do more.  But she is growing up, well on her way to joining the adult world, where life is never plain sailing. Her father and I could no longer protect her from the harshness and the unfairness of life; we could no longer take away her pain the way we could put a plaster on her cuts and kiss her bruises away when she was a little girl.

So with my arms wrapped tightly round her, I told her, “None of this is real. It’s like a movie, it is not real. Detach from it.”

I told her to close her eyes and imagine we were in the car driving back to Portsmouth. Imagine the familiar roads and the rolling South Downs, the way your dad always drove through those country lanes with music playing, and soon, we see the sea in the horizon and the signpost for Portsmouth …. and this is when life becomes real again.

I am glad we are home now.

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When I was a teenager, I was like my daughter.  My younger brother and I plotted our escape.  We wanted excitement and our names written in bright lights.  Portsmouth was too parochial, too boring, for us.

But now, having lived a full and eventful life, I know what I told my daughter was true – none of it is real, until you reach the road home.