Two simple words. Deep complex meaning.
Very deep and darkly complex if you’re a single mother and have to do the dishes twice as often, but the effects of which can be lessened by well thought out appreciation gifts that come with a bonus moral.
So I said to my young son matter-of-factly and as a subtle jokey reminder:
“It’s Mother’s Day soon, whatcha getting me huh nudge wink?”
“A Big Giant Hug” he casually says without looking up from destroying something on a game bound to be deemed bad parenting on his PSP.
“Awww. No really though.”
I’m hoping I’m successfully conveying gratitude but still letting him know that it’s also a downgrade from the chewed macaroni necklaces I have received in the past.
“It’ll be such an amazing hug it’ll be just like chocolate” he assures me without hesitation, but glances up briefly to see if such eloquence would cement my appreciation and put paid to further discussion after I had dried my eyes.
Now I know you’re all scrunching up your faces and going “whaaat? That is just the cutest…” but I have parented a child for nearly 19 years and am finely tuned to the emotional manipulation tools they use. Not least of which is offering one act of affection in return for at least two decades of their daily life sustaining resources.
Also the fact that he successfully linked the day with chocolate, means he smarter than sits comfortably with me.
However, dismissing the generosity of my child, regardless of its authenticity is a sensitive issue that if handled badly could be held against me and verbally returned to me every single day for the rest of my natural life.
Don’t misunderstand me – his hugs are excellent, really good get-in-there bear hugs and I love them.
But Mothers Day comes once a year and chocolate is chocolate.
And I happen to know he has R200 in his wallet.
As back-up justification, I must point out that almost all of that R200 was originally mine. Passed on for (half) doing chores that he is never going get paid to do in the future (one can ardently hope).
Regardless, let me explain why this is not a matter of ungrateful self-indulgence on my part. It is all part of a whole range of fly-by-the-seat-of-my pants single parenting life lessons I have come up with that are designed to help my son’s avoid becoming every alternate weekend fathers. (Or *shudder* half of not every school holiday).
It’s fairly simple.
No matter what she says, a ‘Big Giant Hug’ is not a present that is going to fly with any future lady friends he may one day want to marry, or is dating over a gift giving day. Unless of course, she lives off the grid, off subsistence farming, and makes her clothes out of the dried pelt of last night’s supper. In the likely scenario that she is not (given his penchant for hoarding cash and his intense desire to own an expensive well-fitted suit), then it will definitely not be handled well and it is just going to get him a big giant splash of cold Chardonnay to the face – that he will undoubtedly have to pay for anyway.
So a few hours later whilst queuing for a till, I casually pointed out some Turkish Delight that costs R41 and comes in shiny pink foil wrappers in a pretty soft off-white packet. A really small price to pay for the greater good of a future marriage. (Trust me, I mean that quite literally.)
He stood there staring at it for ages before sighing and begrudgingly muttering that his brother better go halves. (Although I think his brother deserves an individual lesson, I’m just waiting for a good time to use the same line without raising suspicion.)
“You’ll thank me later” I muttered – ignoring the less than appreciative tone in which this life-defining skill was being received.
No matter what transpires on the morning of Mother’s Day though, I think I may have to find opportunities to go over this one a few more times before it properly sinks in.
Because all that is likely to happen is that they will scour the internet that morning for these to post on my Facebook wall –