August 19th 2017
Have you ever made a judgement call as a parent, that you thought was going to properly boost your street cred in the eyes of your beloved offspring, only to find you were tragically mistaken? Well I have. And I'm going to swallow my pride and tell you all about it. So get settled in.
The evening was like any other slap bang in the middle of the summer holidays. I was tired. The Lads were not. I was trying to chill. The Lads were not. I was sitting very, very still on the sofa. The Lads were definitely not. Earlier, they had been banished to their room under the guise of 'Movie Night' in which they think they are being given an extra special treat when in actual fact, I am just getting rid of them so I can operate like a proper adult and eat many, many squares of dark chocolate in front of the telly.
This had been going quite well so far, especially if I turned up the war cries of Ragnar Lothbrok in 'Vikings' so loud that I couldn't hear the lads enacting their own ancient Nordic torture on each other. That was until I heard the frantic footsteps of Big Lad and his panicked, gaspy breathing approaching my little televisual oasis. I knew instinctively that something was wrong but before I had time to ponder how on earth an exhausted mother can accurately gauge the breath and step of her child to assess potential damage to a sibling, he burst dramatically through the door.
"Mum, Mum, you have to come now it's a REAL emergency and I didn't mean to do iiiittttt!" Owing to the whole rapid, panicky breath thing, I jumped out of my chair, slid out of my Slanket (Yes, I own a Slanket. They are amazing. You should probably get one) and hot-stepped it to the Lads' room as fast as I could. This was amid Big Lad describing the snapping sound he'd heard when he jumped - yes, jumped - on his little brother's fingers. I could feel my own breath quickening too, and my mind raced ahead to scenes of us whizzing to A & E, pyjama-clad and howling all the way.
Thankfully, when I arrived at the scene of the accident, I used my weird, exhausted-mother-instincts and assessed the very loud cry of Little Lad. He was upset, yes, shocked, yes and probably a bit hurt, yes, but there were no broken bones here tonight. I hugged him tight then showed him gently how to flex his fingers in and out and assured him that was proof they were not broken. I gave Big Lad the necessary evil glares and then gathered them both into my arms to try to calm the situation. And that's when I had the idea. I would tell them a story of my youth that would solve all of this AND have them gazing at me in unfettered awe.
"Do you know boys, when I was a little girl, I actually did break my little finger."
(Through broken sobs, but with some sparks of interest) "Did you mummmy, did you?"
"Indeed I did, and shall I tell you how it happened?"
(Nodding heads and ridiculously huge eyes looking up at me) "Yes, what happened?"
"Well, I lived near this boy called Neil who was far taller and far bigger than me, but one day he asked me for a piggy-back and I knew I was really strong so I said yes."
(More nodding and huge, glistening eyes)
"Well, I ran with him on my back all along the street that I lived on and then we got to the driveway to my house which was very, very steep. But I kept on running with him balanced on my back and used all the muscles in my legs to get up the hill. And when I got to the top, well, my legs kept going too fast and I fell slap-bang down on the ground with him right on top of me."
"He squished me a bit but he got up off me and I got up too and dusted myself off laughing and saying, 'I'm fine, I'm fine'. But then, I glanced down at my hands, and guess what?"
(More silence. More awe. This was going even better than expected)
"When I looked down at my right hand, my little finger wasn't where it should have been. It was lying like this (indicated a horizontal line) right across the back of my hand."
I gazed at my beautiful Lads, just waiting for them to laugh hysterically, clap me on the back and beg me for further gory details. There was a further beat of silence, then Little Lad tipped his head back, Big Lad clapped his hands to his screwed-up eyes and they each let out the most earth-shattering howl that would have given Ragnar Lothbrok a massive run for his money.
Little Lad: "Noooooooooo. Mummmmmyyyyyy!"
Big Lad: "Whyyyyyyyyy? Whyyyyy did you tell us that?!"
Now it was my turn to be in awed silence. Little Lad turned to me in horror, eyes glistening for a whole different reason now and screamed "Ahhhhhh! That story was INAPPROPRIATE!"
Meanwhile, Big Lad was rocking back and forth on the floor with his hands alternating between is shut-tight eyes and poor, mistreated ears shouting "I can't stop thinking about it! I can't get it out of my head. Whhhhyyyyy?"
Being a mindfulness teacher and all that, now was the perfect time for me to breathe into the moment and come up with some wise, sage statement that would fix everything. But instead, I started manically flexing the once-broken hand in front of my Lads' faces shrieking "Look, look, it all works fine now! The nice doctors fixed it!" My hand was slapped away by Little Lad and screamed at by Big Lad in a proper horror-movie fashion. I hid the guilty hand behind my back and flopped back on Little Lad's bed feeling that familiar sinking feeling that all parents feel when they just don't know what to do.
I lay there, on a tatty Minecraft duvet, bathing in a sound-bath of pure terror.
That I had created.
Luckily, the terror couldn't last forever, and the fact that their mother had just laid down was too much of an attraction for the Lads to ignore. Little Lad inched towards me and flung his snotty head on my shoulder. Big Lad dragged himself up off the floor and awkwardly nudged into my other side. The shaking and heaving started to diminish and the cries of "whyyyyyyy?" trailed off into the night. Our eyes were inadvertently drawn to the telly in their room which was still proudly displaying 'Movie Night' in the form of Despicable Me 2. Thank god for the Minions. That's what I say.
Later that night I did eventually make it back to my Slanket and I did, obviously, manage to consume rather a lot more chocolate. I watched another episode of 'Vikings' but did wonder if perhaps, in all its gory splendour, this programme had unconsciously encouraged me to plunge my boys into a living nightmare in the form of the folklore of my youth. And given that I am from the North East of England, I'm surely part Viking anyway.
Maybe, in the future, I can find something on Netflix less likely to wake my inner warrior.
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