I’ve long had an image of me taking my son down to the pub for his 18th birthday, buying him a pint and then sitting him down to let him know how proud I am of the man he’s become.
Unfortunately, even though that milestone moment is just a few weeks away now, I know it’s very unlikely to happen because the only way I would get him down to the pub is if the draft ales were replaced with protein shakes.
That’s because he’s wholly obsessed with his body, what he puts in it and how that will fuel his next workout, which happen on a daily basis.
I realise there are plenty of worse things for him to be consumed with, but it has brought about a level of narcissism that drives me up the wall.
Recently, this reached breaking point (with me at least) when he was walking with me through town, visibly flexing his arms in every shop window, so that he (and any onlookers) could get a good look at the gun show.
Of course, I get it. The testosterone is coursing around his body and it only takes a few swings of a dumbbell for it to translate into the appearance of another obscure muscle with a Latin name, but it seems to have reached a stage where he’s supplementing his personality for his physicality.
Overnight, all the things we used to do together, like mountain biking, hiking, even going to the cinema and theatre, started to slide and everything I propose is met with, “I can’t Dad, it’s legs day”.
It all began when he discovered rowing around a year ago. The sheer physicality of that endeavour, combined with the increased male hormonal surges, meant that over the course of one summer, his body completely changed from that of a healthy, teenage lad, to that of a Men’s Health cover model, complete with six-pack and T-shirt-straining biceps.
The transformation was, frankly, astonishing and his trips to the gym became more and more frequent as he attempted to compound his gains in the weights room, which is when he turned into a complete gym bore.
At the beginning, I even tried to go to the gym with him, but this strategy didn’t last long, especially as the last time I set foot inside one, I think there were still guys using Bullworkers.
He’s often to be found wandering around the house, torso bared. So, one morning when I came into the kitchen to find the Adonis making a protein shake, I thought I’d have some fun with it.
“It’s like looking in the mirror, son,” I suggested.
“What, one of those ones that distorts your body to make you look like a frog with a human head?” he retorted. Well, at least he hadn’t entirely lost his sense of humour.
Inevitably, his dedication to pumping iron has brought him to the attention of several girls in his sixth-form cohort and one, in particular, who he has begun seeing regularly, who is polite, mature and respectful, all the things a parent usually wants in a partner for their children.
However, she seems to have a very different lifestyle to my lad’s and when we question why he isn’t seeing her on a Friday or Saturday evening, he usually replies that she’s out partying and he “didn’t really fancy it”, as he heads out the door with his gym bag.
Now, BG (before gym), if he’d hooked up with someone with a social life to rival Kate Moss’s in the mid-’90s, it would have set alarm bells ringing and I would have harboured a few concerns that she might lead him astray, particularly in an exam year. However, it’s got to the stage now that I think she might be exactly what he needs in order to break the cycle of eat, sleep, lift heavy things, repeat.