Quite possibly the nicest thing my son has ever said to me is ‘Mummy, you make my heart smile.’ He was five at the time. I was so touched I wanted to cry. Of course, I then had to tell everyone I met that day and if they weren’t as heart-clutchingly swept away as I then that was because they were soulless. Couldn’t they see what a sensitive little person he was, what a devastatingly eloquent soul he would grow up to be?
He is nowhere near as empathetic as I’d imagined. Sure, he won’t watch Titanic because it makes him cry, and reading Shadow and War Horse sent him hurtling into my lap for a weepy cuddle, but if I fall on my arse he wavers between concern and laughter and usually falls on the side of laughter, getting impatient if I don’t recover from my ‘owee’ really quickly. Perhaps it’s because he’s a boy. My daughter on the other hand was born with a wonderful bedside manner. In fact, her burning ambition is no longer to be a equine veterinarian, but a counsellor, sorting out other people’s problems for them. I have no idea how she’ll cope as she has no idea how to distance herself from people’s problems…maybe that’s a girl thing. She dives headfirst into every relationship, smothering herself emotionally.
My daughter has now stepped into that emotional quagmire called the teens, while my son is due to start secondary (High) school in September. With all the problems associated with growing up I decided to attend the ‘Surviving Adolescence’ course run by the school. It is fantastic. The biggest lessons learnt, far and away, was from listening to the experiences and trials other parents had been through followed by the course leaders perspective. However, there was one shining star among all the suggestions and it was brought up by a parent: