KIDS can be the bane of your life.
As a parent, I can remember the times being driven to distraction by my daughter and son.
It began with toddler tantrums, carried on through the stroppy stage and then developed into teenage angst.
You lose count of the number of times you a) Have to be a taxi driver, b) Work as a banker and c) Become a music/computer game expert.
And that’s without the 3am stumblings as they arrive home from their first forays into Huddersfield nightlife.
But you know you’d certainly miss them.
And that’s why every parent in every home must be feeling for two local families this week.
Shannon Matthews, 9, has not been seen for nine days since vanishing on her way home from her Dewsbury primary school after a swimming lesson.
And there is a dreadful story of family hostility unravelling at Leeds Crown Court where the father of four-year-old Ryan Hawkins, from Slaithwaite, is on trial charged with the youngster’s murder.
Two apparently normal families rocked by the most devastating of tragedies.
It is difficult to imagine the emotions that Shannon’s mum Karen is going through. Should she have collected her from school? Was there any hint she was unhappy at home? Had she been told enough about the dangers of strangers?
Despite the tremendous support she is getting, from the police, from her friends, from her neighbours, there must be times when that distraught mother is alone and can only think that the very worst has happened to her daughter.
My two are now 25 and 21 and, thankfully, both have emerged unscathed through their early years.
There were the traumas of a hospital visit when my daughter Emma dislocated her elbow and the worries when a promised phone call from son James driving back to university life in Newcastle on a bad winter’s night never materialised.
But those are tiny, trivial, insignificant moments.
What thoughts must be going through the mind of Ryan’s mum, Valerie, who has to try and understand why the man she married could turn into a killer.
Christopher Hawkins was said to be very close to his young son but something unspeakably dreadful happened in a terrace house in Slaithwaite last September.
It is a nightmare that no parent should ever have to go through.
There’s an old saying “I love children but I couldn’t eat a whole one”.
And there is that wonderful, relaxed feeling after a family At Home with children and grandchildren is over and you have the place to yourself again. But how awful to imagine a time without them.