Hopelessly (un)devoted to you
I had a little moment of revelation recently, while stroking the golden head of my dog, his soppy eyes gazing at me in utter rapture. He will do anything to be near me, whatever I’m doing, whatever mood I’m in, however crap I feel or look, he just wants to love me and be loved by me. Dogs are so OBVIOUS about how much they are attached to you and worship at the church of you, and they don’t care who knows it. I should mention that he is also unreservedly devoted to the cat, who loathes every hair on his body, so he’s not a very good judge of character.
My point being, do you remember when your children felt that way about you? When their little faces lit up as you entered the room, and stared after you in distressed bewilderment if you left their line of sight for a second? How they lifted up their podgy arms to be cuddled, snuggled into you when they were poorly, and sat patiently with you while you watched Balamory to escape the horrors of the outside world for just a few short hours? No? Neither can I. Now all I get is “I’m hungry”; “Your mum [insert insult here]”; “Why can’t you just be more/less [delete as appropriate and insert character assassination here]”; “Why can’t you be more like [insert chum’s name here]’s mum?”; “Do my homework for me”; “I need cash for the cinema/bus/a new iPhone”; “Why are you hanging around in my room? Go away”. It’s just not the same.
I remember, as a kid, saying to my mum: “I’ll never ever ever leave home Mummy, I love you too much” as she beamed in satisfaction. Fast forward to me at the age of 17 feverishly applying to universities in Scotland so that I could be as far away as possible from my home in Devon come the start of the autumn term.
I am secretly pleased if my teenager (or my tweenager) get a little bit sick/feign sickness to get out of school, because it means we can get the duvet down and on the sofa, eat popcorn and watch This is Jinsy or Breaking Bad all day (depending on which kid is skiving). Of course if I have to be somewhere for work they’re forced into their uniform and shoehorned out the door, I’m not that selflessly enamoured of their company.
There’s an episode of the fabulously real US comedy, The Middle, where Axl (17) starts asking his mom (Frankie) to do stuff with him, and she’s so overwhelmed that he actually wants to spend time with her that she comes over all girly and thrilled, grabbing every opportunity to bathe in the glow of his acceptance. Then she realises, “Oh my God, I’m dating my kid!” It’s not as eeeuw as it sounds, and to any mum who’s watched their teenage son or daughter move inexorably further away from them, it makes perfect sense.
In our eyes, they’re still our babies and it all seems like just five minutes ago that we were spooning mush into their faces and making bubbly Mohicans out of their hair at bathtime. But now my son has a moustache, and it’s time I accepted that he doesn’t want to play Connect 4 with me anymore. I know he loves me really. Almost as much as that dog.