DS1 came flying down the stairs and thrust a piece of paper into his mum’s hands.
“I’ve made a list of my top ten things,” he said.
James (his monkey)
Harry Potter stuff
Watching the Harry Potter films
Mum (sixth on the list – oops)
Gold things (not sure what happened to yellow)
Eating choclate (sic) frogs
Making Thief of Death play (the current stage play he was writing)
As you can imagine the wife, hereafter known as Number 6, was none too impressed at not even making it into his top five.
I am obviously not rubbing that in at all.
And, by the way, son, why is ‘Chelsea’ not on the list? Words need to be had.
Simply the best
However, it’s not a bundle of fun being number one, in all honesty. I’d rather be languishing in a Europa League spot, like Number 6, or better still seventh place so I don’t have to play on a Sunday.
As Number 1, my life is not my own, whereas Number 6 can mostly carry on regardless – almost as if she doesn’t have a child. A bit like the second born to a monarch – they can go off and party while the first born has to wear a suit, have a side parting and open hospitals.
OK, so maybe I’ve got a bit carried away with that analogy – but you get the idea.
On those occasions where I leave the house to go to work or go to football – and Number 6 has the joy of looking after DS1 for the day – it would seem only natural that when I return he wants to spend time with me; that I do his bedtime stories.
That’s fair enough. But the knock-on effect is that Number 6 is then excluded as if she doesn’t exist. Her services are no longer required – Numero Uno is back in town.
“Bye then”, “You can go now” or the time-honoured classic “Get out” signals the end of her involvement in his life for that day.
But turn the day the other way around, where I’ve had him for the duration and Number 6 comes through the front door, does DS1 want to spend time with his absent parent? Does he f*ck. If he’s in a good mood, she may get an acknowledgment, but more often that not she doesn’t.
It’s still me that he wants to play with, that has to do his bedtime stories. Oh, believe me we’ve tried to break this, but it’s like the Americans in Vietnam – it’s a war we are not going to win.
I am “the best guy there is in the world and ever will be”. His words not mine – even when I’m telling him off, which seems to be most of the time.
Breakfast isn’t served
Weekends epitomise his obsession with his dad. Last weekend was a prime example. We try and each have a lie-in day, if we can, and it was my turn. Number 6 was already up, when the bedroom door rattled and there was a thumping on the floor.
“Ugh.” It wasn’t even 7am.
“Hungry,” came the shout up the stairs.
“OK. Mum’s already up, so go and find her and she’ll get your breakfast.”
This didn’t go down well. He marched up the stairs into our room, turned on the fan at full blast and then proceeded to pull the duvet off me.
My tolerance level was low.
“Mum is already up. I’m having a lie in. Go and ask her,” I said rather loudly.
I turned the fan off, recovered the duvet and tried to go back to sleep.
The fan went back on.
I lost the plot.
I picked him up, carried him downstairs, deposited him at his mother’s feet and exclaimed: “There she is. Ask her to get your breakfast.”
It didn’t work. I was still the one that had to make his breakfast, albeit he had to wait another hour until I properly got up.
Despite his apparent starvation, he was prepared to wait for me to get it for him, even when it was readily available in the form of Number 6 – or perish the thought get it himself.
Bedtimes, as I’ve mentioned before, can be a minefield. He fears the point at which I exit his room, leaving him on his own.
“I’ll only be downstairs,” I say.
“But that’s a mile away,” he responds.
Sometimes, he will try anything to prevent me from leaving. A recent example shows what lengths he is prepared to go to.
He has a few of his pictures bluetacked to his wall. They are on a level with his bed (that’s where they absolutely have to be), so when he turns over he often brushes against them and they fall off. This particular evening, they all seemed to have miraculously fallen off. I helped him put them back up and left.
“Daaaaddddd,” came a plaintive cry.
“One of my pictures has disappeared.”
“How can it? It will be on the floor by the wall. Pick it up and stick it back up,” I called up to him.
“I can’t find it.”
Resigned to my fate, I returned. There was no sign of it. But he was not going to settle down until it had been recovered. That much I knew.
I eventually found it hiding under some other pieces of paper on his desk. I wonder how it got there?
“I can’t find James.”
After another ten minutes of searching, even checking in other rooms knowing that he had probably hidden his monkey somewhere, I found it in a bag on the other side of his room.
I didn’t bother asking how it had managed to apparate into there.
Then another poster went missing. The reasoning for this one was priceless.
“It got stuck to my foot and accidentally ended up in the toilet and I didn’t notice until I flushed.”
This was total BS and, despite his insistence, I was not crawling down the U-bend to fetch it.
“Daaaaaddddd, I can’t find my book.”
This was getting beyond a joke. Though, after the event, I had to admire his persistence and guile – and his pure damn cheek.
I turned his room upside down, eventually discovering the offending item under his mattress.
“How did it manage to get there?” I enquired, a tad sarcastically.
A convoluted story followed.
“Oh, I know,” he began. “I was holding it and I was over there (he pointed to the middle of his room) then I slipped over and my hand went under the mattress and I forgot that I had left it there.”
A little while later: “Daaaaaddddd.”
My patience had run out.
“I’m not coming up, just go to bed!”
“But I’m so cold.”
I went up to find out where he had secreted his duvet, to find him shivering in soaking wet pajamas.
“What happened, did you spill your water over yourself?”
“No, I accidentally fell in the loo.”
On occasions his obsession can feel claustrophobic. He won’t leave me alone, won’t afford me any space. He can’t bear to be separated from me, even by a room.
He follows me around everywhere, like a dog. Some days I can’t get out of the house, even to go to the shops, without it causing a massive trauma. Sure, he could come with me, but often he is not for leaving the safety of his abode.
He is like a human limpet.
He won’t even do his homework with Number 6. Last week I was working away from home for three days, so I wasn’t able to do the school runs. But he refused point blank to do his homework with Number 6, preferring to wait for me and do it at the weekend in one hit. I have no idea why, because we always end up having an argument over it – it is one of the most unpleasurable experiences known to man.
Sometimes, though, he can be empathetic, maybe even understanding the effect his obsession with me has – even if it doesn’t change anything.
Stuck for something to do one day, Number 6 suggested to him: “You could draw Daddy a picture of him reading to you?”
To which he replied: “I don’t think he’d like that very much because he has to do it every night and he doesn’t want to be reminded.”
Other times, he has a complete handle on how things work. I was trying to assert some authority over him. I forget why, but no doubt he wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do.
“Who’s in charge?” I demanded.
“I am,” he retorted.