THAT early morning crunch underfoot can mean only one thing. No, not the return of morning frost, but that my two boys have made breakfast.
Coco Pops – that breakfast of champions – is not the only gift our two boys present us with across the kitchen floor every morning.
We also have the joys of Third Generation Rubber Crumbs.
‘Third Generation what?’ I hear you cry.
You’ll know them better as those “bl***y black dots”.
You know, they’re traipsed through the house after football training on artificial pitches.
Pull a footy sock out of any school bag and you’re invariably showered with a black rain of tiny rubber balls.
For that reason, mornings in our house are a heady mix of sweeping, feeding and shouting.
Which is why I read with some amusement a report out this week that suggests children are under too much stress. They’re stressed? They want to try cleaning up after themselves.
According to a YouGov survey, around 58 per cent of 10 to 14-year-olds (my two are aged nine and 12) feel worried or stressed at least once a week.
There were 13 per cent who said they had been unable to eat they were so stressed.
Hmm. In our house at least 13 per cent of what we dish up to our kids ends up on the floor or down their front. Is that the same as not eating?
Apparently these figures are shocking and have precipitated the gift of a whopping £75million from the Big Lottery Fund to, I quote, “help youngsters cope with the pressures of modern life”.
Yes, I was worried about the undue pressure on our 12-year-old as I dished out his toast and jam before ironing his shirt this morning.
He’s from the generation with the worries?
I fear the worst ... and television doesn’t help.
Name the two most popular celebrities in the UK and their claims to fame. Here, I’ll do it for you.
Sunderland barmaid Charlotte Crosby, who recently won Celebrity Big Brother. Claim to fame? She wets herself when drunk.
I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! star Joey Essex. He’s 23 and can’t tell the time.
When I was young, role models were Daley Thompson, Mary Peters or the likes of Bob Geldof.
Bob, in particular, stood out trying to save the world from starvation.
OK he was doing it by swearing at politicians and singing a song or two, but there was at least some level of laudable ability involved.
Today, eating genitals of various descriptions and wearing your stupidity like a badge of honour is the quickest route to riches. Does that come with any stress?
Maybe it does. Perhaps my children worry they aren’t stupid enough to make it in the modern world.
Maybe our Bradley, 12, is stressed, believing he has to unlearn how to tell the time or blow his nose.
I shouldn’t worry. Between sweeping up Coco Pops and 3G rubber crumbs, I noticed him pick up his toast and eat it with the jam side down.
“Why are you eating your toast upside down?” I asked.
“Because my tongue’s on the bottom of my mouth,” he said. “That’s where your taste buds are. I eat everything upside down these days.”
I’m a Parent … Get Me Out of Here!
Form an orderly queue, kids
DURHAM University, this paper reveals today, has clinched part of a £350million grant to train the next generation of scientists.
All very worthy, and it would be great if they can lure youngsters away from PlayStations and mindless celebrity TV, with innovative and exciting learning projects.
So the new Durham University Engineering and Physical Research Council Centre for Doctoral Training in Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces should do the trick.
With such a sexy title how could it ever fail?
Follow Richard on Twitter @DickyO or email him your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.