Thus far I have twice had moments where I was knee-knockingly, jaw-droppingly proud of my son.
I am proud of him all the time – when he is kind and thoughtful, when he writes his name while concentrating so hard he bores a hole into the paper with his laser beam eyes, when he has worked out a puzzle. I am often proud of him.
But twice I have been so proud you could have used my puffed out chest as a foundation to a house. Allow me to explain.
The first time he was nearly three. We were at a children’s birthday party which had, frankly, the tallest children’s slide I’d ever seen. I’m pretty sure the ladder was ripped straight off of Everest as well, and parked at a 90 degree angle. Fucking terrifying.
None of the other kids would even contemplate going near it.
But Nick took one look at it, grabbed the rails with both hands, and was soon at the top of the slide. With a face full of pure joy (or just an overdose of adrenaline) he shot down the slide, laughing. When he got to the bottom, he stood up, dusted himself off, and promptly did it again.
Mind-blowingly proud I was.
Yesterday was the second time I have felt that proud.
I think it’s no secret that we are strict parents. We have boundaries because both of us believe boundaries are important. We are very keen that the twins are not picky eaters, either – all new foods must be tried. If they don’t like them then that’s absolutely fine and we won’t make them eat them, but they have to try everything (which explains why two of Nora’s favorite foods are green olives and capers. She rocks.) Likewise we have rules – you don’t play with your food (or throw it). You don’t get dessert if the meal isn’t eaten (if you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding). Kids eat what grown-ups eat, although they may love a diet of macaroni cheese and chicken nuggets (which frankly sounds tempting), they are eating the same curry we do (and the truth is they prefer it spicier than I do). It has on the whole made them not picky eaters at all, and they are very daring in what they’ll eat. I am not Mommy Dearest acting like a hard-ass – the twins get to be kids all the time (it’s a thing with me, to let kids be kids). But they also have to grow up understanding that their world is shared with many others, they may be kids but there are boundaries, to boot.
Flash forward to yesterday. The twins were at a children’s birthday party (aka the Seventh Circle of Hell). It was lunchtime, the typical children’s birthday party fare of sausage rolls, cheesy wotsits, and Marmite sandwiches. The twins quietly ate their plates of food, including the stack of carrots I stuck on their plates. They sat next to a little boy who was a typical kid, who came to the party armed with a typical parent. Said typical kid had spent ages talking loudly throughout the magician’s act and got into a massive row with his mother as he repeatedly tried to set free the hosts’ rabbits. You know you know kids like this. You know their parents, too.
“Muuuuuuuuuuuum! I hate this! I won’t eat it!” he shrieks, winging a cheese and ham sandwich triangle across the grass.
“Oh that’s ok Lucifer. You don’t have to eat it my lovely.” She smiles at me. “He and his brother Beelzebub, they’re such picky eaters.”
“Right,” I murmur.
“Lucifer, darling, it’s ok. You can just eat the chocolate biscuits. That’s fine,” she calls over, adjusting her necklace. Lucifer would eat his chocolate, only he’s busy mashing his hand into his cup of punch, spilling it all over his arms and his trousers.
Nick is staring at Lucifer as if he’s grown another head.
Lucifer, having realized that his fist does indeed displace liquid, then gets up and walks to his mum.
“Mummy. Mummy! More! I need more drink! Now!”
“Well Lucifer my lovely, you drank it all you need to go get some more,” says his mother, the bastion of tough love.
Lucifer goes and gets more punch. He strolls back out to us and stops, standing directly in front of his mother and I. Lucifer smiles at us. He takes one sip. He then proceeds to pour out the entire cup of punch onto the grass.
Nick looks at Lucifer with something akin to pure unadulterated disgust.
“Lucifer that was quite silly, now you’ve nothing to drink!” trills his mother with a smile. Lucifer shrugs and then – I swear I make not this up – he starts jumping up and down in the puddle of punch he’s made in the grass. “Awwww, are you puddle jumping, my little star?” coos his mother as Lucifer splashes all of us with pale pink splashback.
Nick looks at Lucifer. He looks at me. He shakes his head and makes an attempt to roll his eyes.
Satan’s Little Helper and his mother wander away to get more chocolate (since Lucifer doesn’t like sandwiches). Nick quietly hands his empty plate and cup to me. I bend down to him. “Nick?” I say. “I am so proud of you. You are, absolutely, very, very cool.”
I grin back.
Second time I have been so proud.