Things I’ve learned from my children.
The cuddle is dead, long live the face wrestle. Boy Three has started to show affection to his favourite people. He’ll grin at pretty much anyone including pictures of babies on nappy packets. He chortles easily – melting the hearts of passing strangers. He waves enthusiastically with both arms and both legs (an interesting move while standing). But there’s only one way to be sure you’re on Boy Three’s A list. Meet the face wrestle. This is where you find your head – front or back, doesn’t matter – being rubbed damply by the face of Boy Three. The saliva and snot surprise is usually accompanied by enthusiastic hooting.
House pride can be generated. On Sunday, The Panther of News and I worked all day on Boy Two’s bedroom. He had asked for a new bed for his eighth birthday – a midsleeper with blue tent, no less. However, the problem was that the room was so full of stuff – largely pointless and plastic stuff – that there wasn’t room to swing an allen key let alone a whole flat pack bed. Finally the bed was installed, the room tidy and it does look lovely. So today, during our first daily switch-off hour (no TV or games enforced for one paltry hour every day) I did a little eavesdropping.
Boy One: “Let’s play in your room, in the tent.”
“OK, good idea. Hang on, you can’t come in.”
“You’ve still got your shoes on – take them off, I don’t want it getting dirty.”
Over caring is cruelty. It was wear-what-you-want day at school today. Kids get to wear their own clothes for three successive Fridays before the annual May Fair. To earn the right to dress down, the children have to bring contributions for the various stalls – bric-a-brac, books and any other junk you’re tired of. Actually it’s an efficient village-wide clutter redistribution exercise and life would be easier if we just wrote a cheque to the PTA. However, that’s no fun so off the boys went to get dressed for the day. Boy Two looked smart in the surfer dude outfit he got from Auntie L for his birthday. But Boy One, oh dear. Not known for his natty dressing had excelled himself in a slightly outgrown tracksuit pants and back-to-front and clingy jumper combo. My suggestions that he should change were greeted with refusal, sulking, tears and eventually: “You grown-ups just over care about stupid things like clothes. I hate you.”