When I was growing up, our household was dominated by women (Mum, sister and me). Which meant that in the early years, as befits stereotype, rooms overflowed with dollies, dressing-up clothes and an unwise amount of pink. Although my sister Tor and I made dens, climbed trees and fashioned swings out of rope with the best of them, we regularly returned to more girly pursuits.
My Dad, optimist that he is, made many a valiant effort to convert us. We were, for example, both really into sports. Unfortunately for him, we favoured tennis, swimming and netball over more traditionally male (don't blame me for saying it) sporting endeavours.
So although he routinely plugged the virtues of supporting Leicester City Football Club (I told you he was an optimist) or of going to watch the local rugby team the Tigers in action (a more appealing prospect as we got older, due to their greater success on the field and some rather hunky players), when we were young, all too often we listened blithely and nodded along, before asking him if he fancied joining us for a pretend tea party. And to his credit, lovely man that he is, he almost always agreed.
I think this is one of the reasons why we've always had a male dog in the family. A black Labrador evens the balance out a little, you see. Even if they're no good at kicking a ball around, at least they don't clutter the bathroom with make-up or fly into random fits of rage over the lack of clothes in their already bulging wardrobes. At best, the dog provided a welcome escape route, allowing him to slip away for a long walk across the fields, when teenage hormones raged in the house.
Despite this, I've always thought that it would have been really nice for Dad had there been a son around to balance all the femininity. Which is why, a few of weeks ago, an article in the UK newspaper The Telegraph made me pause for thought. According to a recent study, parents with two girls are thought to be the happiest. "Two girls make for the most harmonious family life as they are unlikely to fight, will play nicely and are generally a pleasure to be around," it said.
Hmm, I thought, quickly pinging an e-mail with a link to the piece across to him. A few minutes later, I had a reply waiting: "The perfect two! Agree entirely with what the article says. Love Dad." Which, it has to be said, rather made my day.