Fergus is seven and a half now. Every time he’s running around in his pants, which is pretty much all the time, I look at his long, lithe limbs and the way his shoulders are (I swear) already broadening like a man, and I feel that little stab of pain: he’s my only one and he’s not my baby anymore!! (He’s like mother, I am seven, I haven’t been a baby for several years. Stop squashing my head against the sofa as you try to kiss me.)
Yup, it’s true, they grow up fast and before you know it…..! The clichés are true. His level of understanding is, it has to be said, becoming frightening.
I forget for example, that he can now read a novel and he can spell. Dangerous times.
The other morning for example, Egg and I were having breakfast with Fergus and we were talking about something, and I wanted to say to Egg, ‘it sounds like he was just being a dick. ’ So, because Fergus was there, I spell it out: “It sounds like he was just being a D.I.C.K.”
“Dick!” Fergus said brightly.
Egg and I looked at one another, then promptly pissed ourselves laughing. So then it’s dick, dick, dick, dick…..Yeah, well done us.
“What’s a dick?” asked Fergus.
Dick, we said, is another word for an idiot. Cue running around the playground calling his mates “you dick” in the playground. Brilliant.
I also told him yesterday when I accidentally mentioned a ‘lesbian crush’ I was having (ironic, you understand) that I’d in fact said, “Edmund crush” and that an Edmund Crush was a type of cocktail.
“What’s a cocktail?”
I then went to text someone on my phone and he said.
“Are you dumping someone by text mum?”
After I’d picked myself up from the floor, I said.
“No, no, I am not dumping anyone by text Fergus”.
“Good” he said, “because it’s the worst thing to be dumped by text.”
It’s going well now, my summer sojourn at Egg’s house with our precocious seven-going-on-seventeen year old son. I’ve taken up the spare room in the basement for a few months just till I sell my flat in London (anyone want a one bed flat in south London by the way?) and I work here in the attic and sleep in the basement, which is a good (apart from the odd frog that likes to find itself in my bedroom having strolled in from the the garden, because my basement bedroom leads straight up some damp steps to the garden and I often leave the door open in the day to let in the air. Won’t be doing that again. “Mum there’s a frog in your bedroom” Fergus says at 6.30am. “Yeah yeah” I say, “go back to bed please, it’s 6.30am.”
“No mum, there really is a frog in your bedroom.”
Kids say the funniest things, it seems and then sometimes…. they tell the truth!
It took a while to get used to this slightly odd set up – what with me being Egg’s lodger! We weren’t used to parenting under the same roof and have quite different styles (i.e. he is quite strict and I am a bit mummy-soft. He thinks crackers are ‘an unhealthy food’ I think, pick your food battles, as there are enough of them…Obviously, this didn’t really matter when we lived separately. We tried to agree on the big things and the rest, well, we were oblivious…. Fergus knew he could play us, he knew he could get jam sandwiches at my house and not at his dad’s. Now that we’re both here, he only gets jam sandwiches if his dad is out (‘don’t tell your dad’ is a phrase I find myself saying often.) We have different things which rile us and which we think are unacceptable. Egg has a big problem with Fergus putting his hands down his pants (he’s got a battle on his hands there….Egg that is, not Fergus..) and picking up money he finds lying around and surreptiously slipping it into his money box (even if it’s 2p) – which is stealing, he says, and I suppose that is right, although I have also on occasions found Fergus rifling through my bag, which I have to say, I am somewhat more disturbed by! I have a problem with certain words, for example, if he calls me ‘KR’ instead of ‘mum’ (funny the first few times, just a bit cocky after that…) and slapping me on the bottom. So, at first, there was quite a lot of one telling him off, whilst the other stood out of Fergus view a look of ‘what on earth…..?” on their face, shaking their heads smugly, quite a lot of ‘can I have a word Katy / Egg in the other room?’ Sort of more telling one another off, than Fergus.
We’ve kind of stopped that now. We seem to have found a level. We seem to be complementing one another on the parenting front most of the time – Egg making me realize the boundaries I set Fergus are occasionally a bit flimsy; me making him realize when he’s just being too harsh; that you can’t expect a seven year old to sit down at every mealtime and basically say how grateful he is for this yummy, yummy plate of lentils you’ve just made. For example…
Now Egg and I just flounce around trying to out-artiste each other most of the time. Let me explain: Egg is a photographer; I am a writer. Two creatives under one roof who crucially, both work at home. It can get a bit intense. We don’t see one another all day, working at separate ends of the house then take turns in having creadive outbursts, man.. me clomping into the kitchen going,…
‘It’s rubbish! It’s a disaster! My book is rubbish! What is wrong with me?”
And him hitting his computer going “It’s taken me six goddamn weeks to do this project what is wrong with me?!”
And us both going., “I have no money, I work all day long and have no money. What is wrong with us?”
Honestly, who would do a creative job?
And me: “I need complete silence to work can you please turn your computer off at night I can hear WHIRRING…” (I can also be found ferreting around under computer wires and the backs of fridges at 4am trying to locate WHIRRING. Then get woken up by a frog in my room anyway.)
And him: “I need to go for a jog and have a coffee in the morning taking me up to 11am otherwise I am no use to man or beast!”
Still, can’t be doing too badly as Fergus said to me the other day: “Mum, I don’t want a wife when I grow up, I just want a friend like you and daddy.”
Oh God. We’re here – I knew we would be soon – a whole new level of understanding….
“You can have both, Fergus” I told him.
I haven’t managed to find it in thirty-eight years, but you can have both.
p.s. I just thought I’d mention that you can now pre-order my new book HOW WE MET on Amazon and see the cover too. The people at Harper Collins have done me proud. http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-We-Met-Katy-Regan/dp/0007237448 Ok, that’s all my shameless self-publicity for today…