At my kids’ school they do a Mothers’ Day assembly following a similar format each year, with each child saying the thing they love most about their mum. It’s become a bit like an annual appraisal in a darkly comedic way. Tres awks to get the feedback from those you love most in a roomful of people. Thing is, it’s not meant to be negative at all, quite the opposite – but the fear of being dammed with false praise, or the implications of what they leave out looms large. Now that both of mine are at school together, I wonder what this year holds. My eldest has done the assembly for a couple of years now and a repeating theme is that he loves bedtime stories as much as me.
However, I’m curious to hear what my youngest comes up with. He’s not the sentimental type and has a cheeky streak, so I reckon I should prepare myself for anything (and try not to take it personally). Unfortunately I also know that he thinks of me as chief-nagger, since one of the consequences of him being a jolly, fun soul is that he’s got a tendency to see rules as a bit of a game. Whilst I don’t want to squash the fun out of him, I’ve also got the poisoned chalice of guiding him down the straight and narrow. Fun though it may be, doing a moony at the hairdresser’s receptionist isn’t what I aspire for him.
I also wonder what the neighbours must think when I’m sounding like a fishwife, chivvying him along in the morning, whilst it’s a tad embarrassing, I also know that it’s what he thinks that really counts. In a protracted nightly ritual, our days end with echoes of “love you lots pops, see you in the morning for a lovely breakfast”. I also tell him that I love him even when I’m telling him off (“you know we love you very much, but…”). However, as we’re selective in our recollections, I don’t know if he’ll remember those moments or hear those messages. Mind you, I also wonder whether he listens through the glazed-look he gives when being told off, but every day is a new day and another chance for us to start afresh (including me).
The assembly will come and go and what he says may or may not reflect what he’ll look back on in the future – he’ll no doubt develop a generalised view over time (who knows what that will be).
I know it’s an odd thing to say about a five year old, but he makes us work for his affection, he’s a bit “yeah yeah” when we tell him we love him, cuddle him or hold his hand (friends assure me this is a power game and that he likes to have things on his terms). In the past he’s told me off for being too enthusiastic in response to his early efforts at reading (my praise apparently put him off) and when I ask about his day (it’s tiresome to explain stuff he already knows). A case of “treat ‘em mean keep ‘em keen” you might say, and because he associates overt affection with being babied (presumably because he is the baby of the family). It also appears as though he doesn’t need as much affirmation as we do. Whilst it’s great that he’s confident and self-reliant, it’s also a bit sad that he appears to growing up quicker than his brother (who despite being two years older will happily hold our hands).
So basically, I’m like the keeno trying to be mates with the cool kid. He knows it and we know it. Of course I’m not going to temper my enthusiasm because I’m sure that one day he’ll forget to be cool and he might just like a hug after all.