In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’ve been thinking about lessons in love my children have taught me.
Love is not a mind reader
When Bouncing Boy wants something, he says it. ‘Carry me,’ when he’s tired. ‘Kiss. It,’ and a body part thrust in my face when he’s hurt himself. ‘Mummy, I need a cuddle,’ when he’s scared, happy, hell, anytime really. When Baby Girl wants something, she points, shouts, stamps her feet and gestures till she gets it. No messing about with hints, clues or ‘if you really understood me, you’d just know,’ style guessing games. I know I should be teaching them manners and the art of putting things nicely but there’s something refreshing about their straight up, no frills demands. I’m not saying I want Down-to-Earth-Dad to thrust in my face without so much as a please or thank you, but there’s a lot to be said for keeping it real.
Love is actions not words
In my kids’ world, hugging is big. A sleepless night – let’s hug it out. An ‘ouch’ – kiss it better. A disappointment – bring on the tickle fight. Perhaps affection is their way to get close when they can’t or don’t want to put their feelings into words, but I’m constantly amazed how much they communicate on a physical level. I’m not saying I want Down-to-Earth-Dad to cling to my leg while I’m on the loo, but I reckon there might be something in this affection business…
Love doesn’t hold grudges
Bouncing Boy lives in the present, without keeping tabs. Yes, he was pissed off when I wouldn’t let him have cereal for dinner last night. The spag bol hit the floor and he went to bed hungry but we started this morning with a clean plate. And I don’t suppose he’ll resurrect cereal-gate every time we come to blows about dinner over the next few years. Baby Girl is the same. Boy, does she hate her car seat – screaming from the moment I wedge her in at point A, till we screech to a halt and pile out at point B – but the smile she gives me when I open the passenger door holds no resentment. The fact that I restrained her against her will and ignored her desperate pleas for freedom is forgiven and forgotten the instant I unclasp the isofix, no questions asked. If only I had such a short memory…
Love knows no shame
Shame has yet to enter my children’s world. Naked time, shared baths, loud let-rip farts and winky-chat are all indulged without a shred of self-consciousness. Chubby thighs and cellulite only make my daughter more edible. Bouncing Boy always smells gorgeous to me, even in his morning nappy. Why should it be any different? I wouldn’t go as far as admiring the curl of Down-to-Earth-Dad’s poo (as Bouncing Boy often demands) but in a family where everyone loves each other no matter what, why can’t we all sit about naked without feeling fat?
Love is a laugh
There’s more to life than swings and roundabouts. Even on days when we’re going round in circles, Bouncing Boy and Baby Girl know how to have fun. ‘Play with me, mummy!’ they constantly remind me when I’m distracted by the boring, ‘humdrum of mumdom,’ as Wry Mummy would put it. Could this philosophy extend to Down-to-Earth Dad and I? I’m not just talking ‘Date Nights’ or other enforced fun times (though more of those would be nice), it’s more the mindset. Yes, it’s easy to get caught up in the serious, sensible side of relationships – from paying this month’s bills to unloading last night’s dishwasher – but if we can keep an eye on the funny side of life, that’s got to be a good thing, right? Not promising I’ll find Down-to-Earth Dad’s jokes funny, mind…
Nothing says ‘I love you’ like chocolate
No matter what the problem, chocolate or cake, or better still: chocolate cake, is the answer. That. Is. All.
What lessons in love have your children taught you?