My son is in a panic. He is also in love. Actually he is in a panic because he is in love. And Valentine’s Day is this week. Funnily enough, in the two weeks leading up to this awful day, he has gone from elation at having had his request to be someone’s Valentine accepted, to despair, at having ‘broken up with her’ four days later, to elation at discovering the very next day that a girl acceptable enough to be considered girlfriend material, has a crush on him, which instantaneously means they are in a relationship. I know all this because I have endured the constant stream of questions, begging for advice on what say to her at school the next day, and what to give her for Valentine’s Day. This last area of anguish shifting with barely a pause for reflection from one girl to the next, and no notice taken of my mutterings of my area of expertise not extending quite that far. In fact I have been less than not at all helpful, with my reply to all of it being “Fer crying out loud child…you’re only ten!” At which he rolls his eyes and clutches his heart dramatically quoting something to do with young love from Cartoon Network. What advice can I give a ten year old about the intricacies of falling in and out of love? I went to a girls only school and have only sister siblings. I didn’t even talk to a boy until I was sixteen, and with a string of unsuccessful relationships since then (although ‘string’ is too long of a word, I can’t think of a single word that means tiny infrequent bits if string), and the last one resulting in marriage and then divorce three years ago, I honestly have nothing to say about the matter let alone to a ten year old. “Ask your brother” I say. His brother doesn’t want to talk about it. He is sixteen and hasn’t had a girlfriend in like, 6 months, which in teenage years means ‘forEVER alone’. He just throws his hands in the air and exclaims about the unfairness of being the better looking one and having no-one to give a Valentines hoot about this week. I mock play the tiniest violin playing the saddest song in the world. Which is basically saying “go and cry in your room and come out when you’ve got real problems”. Not allowing me to deal the death blow to the heart, he rolls his eyes and says “Just my luck that I have to inherit my mother’s luck with dating”. Gasp! I open my mouth to loudly protest, but after an awkward lengthy pause can only meekly mutter a vague apology. “It’s not my fault” I try and explain. “Where am I supposed to meet eligible bachelors not afraid of a single mother and her two sons? And besides, if pigs sprout wings and the cat starts barking and I do happen to meet a guy in the fast food section of Pick’n Pay on a Monday afternoon, and through some shifting of the world’s tectonics plates resulting in a positive energy shroud that urges him to ask me on a date whilst we bump hands pointing at the same already roasted chicken.. What will I say?! Oh yes, that would be great. My kids leave at the end of March to visit their father. How does the first Saturday after that suit you? And don’t get me started on internet dating! That is just not an option, have you seen the weird stuff people write about themselves?” He looks at me with a raised eyebrow, and as a reasonable explanation as to how I knew this wasn’t immediately forthcoming in my mind, I just keep going. “And what would I say on my profile? Single Mom with limited cooking skills, hobbies include berating rom-coms and finding an open bottle store in a dry town on Saturday afternoon. Meagre cash flow. Seeks good-looking man, great with kids, preferably with own X-Box. Knowledge of European football leagues and bass guitar a plus?”. I quickly shift focus as I see him roll his eyes and raise his hands to do the tiny violin which annoys me no end. “Just make a card!” I snap at the youngest who is now scratching in the cupboards for an old forgotten Easter Egg from last year that he can transform into something love-like. The eldest is now making snide remarks about the type of girl who would accept anything from his younger brother, and I see the evening ending in tears and an abandoning of the week’s theme of love. “Did I ever tell you the story about that one time I got a Valentines card when I was sixteen, and had to stand on stage and have it read out in front of the entire school?” I ask taking a deep breath, ready to sacrifice another tiny shred of dignity for the sake of restored order. “No?!” they utter in disbelieving unison as they whip around in full attentive mode. “What did it say?” smirks the eldest. I sigh and remind myself it’s for the greater good. ”It said;”
‘As One Caveman Said To Another: C’mon Baby Light My Fire’
I say it completely expressionless, hoping for at the very most, a sympathetic smile. Nope, after a brief stunned silence, brotherly love is restored through exaggerated clutching of each other and amidst howls of laughter they try and outdo each other on best ways to relentlessly repeat the last bit in various voices for maximum parental humiliation.
I was going to follow this on with a story about how my luck couldn’t be that bad if I had just received notification that I had won a competition (another first), for me and a ‘partner’ (non-existent) to go to an open air screening of ‘The Notebook’, on a wine farm (60kms away) on Valentine’s Day (a school night). But thought somehow I would fail to see the funny side… THEY, I mean they..would fail to see the funny side.