|'If you've never been hated by a child, you've never been a parent|
- Bette Davis
When he appeared in the doorway doing his best Joey Trebiani ('hey, how YOU doin?') there was a little tug at my guts, not entirely due to the tsunami of Davidoff Cool Water that flooded in with him.
No. My little boy is growing up.
Not enough to make it up to school in the dark on his own though. I was duly dispatched with the car keys to run him up to the school.
'Who are you going to dance with?' I ask, glancing in the rear view mirror at the top of a furry 'fore and aft' cap. 'Will you dance with Clean Amy?' I ask hopefully.
He says nothing, but stares out of the car window.
I suspect that I am officially an Embarrassing Mother.
I drop him off outside the main building and call after him through the wound-down car window 'Remember and dance with a GIRL tonight.'
Some boys in sportswear lurking near the doorway giggle.
Yeah, I'm embarrassing, alright.
I park up back home in the driveway. Tartarus already has his jacket on - it's the Motorbike Club night. I have to laugh - there's only ever a couple of them meet up at any given time and the Club is loooooong gone - a victim of too many critics and not enough volunteers. Still, he enjoys a few beers with like-minded
'Now, you won't forget to pick him up at 9pm, will you?' he asks me. He pulls on his hat. This makes him look like a professional burglar.
I roll my eyes. 'What do you take me for?'
He says nothing.
Left alone in the house for a couple of hours, I do what most mummies would do - I put music on very loudly and go on to facebook where I end up joking with a friend about a possible Tarot of the Killer Bunnies and doing a couple of outstanding Tarot readings from the weekend.
I am vaguely aware of a noise. My thought process goes roughly like this:
'There's a noise. It must be Sonshine up for a wee. Hang on, I don't remember putting him to bed. *a momentary pause where I try to work out where the hell he is* my head suddenly clicks into gear and I realise that I Must Not Forget To Pick Him Up At 9pm......my eyes wheel around the room to find the clock. it is HALF PAST NINE!!!! No matter how long I stare at it, it's still half nine. IMPOSSIBLE!
I fly into the hallway, grabbing my boots and the car keys.
As I do so, the front door bell rings and I see a small figure in a furry hat peering at me through the glass panel.
A car sits outside my gate, its engine running, checking to make sure that there's someone to let him in. As he disappears inside, the car pulls off into the night.
I am mortified. I drop to my knees and clutch at him - apologies spilling out of my mouth like a BP oil leak. And yes, tears pricking at my eyes. How can I have forgotten to go and pick him up?!
He stands motionless, letting me hug him. But he doesn't hug back.
Eventually I sit back on my heels and look him in the eye to apologise.
His face is like stone
'THAT was the most embarassing moment of MY LIFE,' he says solemnly.
'I'm so sorry. I got caught up........Who was that that ran you home?' I ask, feeling wretched.
'Mrs Shaw. The Assistant Head. You didn't come. You FORGOT about me.'
He pulled off his hat and threw it down on the stairs. The very stairs where I had proudly photographed him a few hours previously, in all his disco finery.
Desperate to make amends, I started babbling about the dance. 'Was it good? Did you get to dance with Amy?'
He hung his jacket up and looked at me with that withering gaze that all children reserve for their completely Out Of Touch parents.
'Amy looked HOT. She deserved to dance with people who looked a lot better than me,' he said, pulling on his slippers, 'So no, I didn't dance with Amy.'
'Now listen to me,' I said,'grabbing both his freezing little hands.' You look fantastic. You're handsome, funny, smart and kind. Why on earth didn't you ask her to dance?'
I'm not that great, mum,' he said 'Even YOU forgot about me.'
THUD, THUD, THUD. That would be the knives in my breast.
UPDATE: 21 December - so Sonshine got his friend to ask her out and she knocked him back with some choice words, that - if true - are appalling from an 11 year-old girl. Well, when *I* was 11, I wouldn't have uttered them. Heck, I didn't even know what one of them meant. Just let me tell you that she has lost her 'Clean' epithet. And I suddenly feel very old.