The short answer to a question I was asked this week is: no, I no longer wrestle with my help. It is an almost amusing thought to me now that I ever did. To some measure it is a reflection of my own recent maturity. I’ve grown past the obsessive possessive stage I went through a few months back- except when it concerns my husband, of course. But it would hardly be honest to claim full credit for this present serenity. Dovie deserves a good share of the praise too. He didn’t exactly shake off my clinging grasp but he did inspire a desire to loosen the hold. In fact these days, even when I’m playing with him, I like her to be there to catch him when he makes his quick getaway crawl toward something he is not supposed to touch or to clear the messy trail he is fond of leaving in the wake of his explorations.
He is –like his mother before him I’m told- a fountain of boundless energy. My son doesn’t spend one second more than necessary being still. Being his everything is therefore a grueling punishment of largely un-fun chores and aerobic workouts. To outdo my help, I must be willing to dash after him and spot dangerous objects in corners hitherto unacknowledged before he does, play crawl-tag, sing please-eat-your-food coaxing songs, have food spat in my face as a mutual joke etc for half the day. Not to mention, 3 times a day baths, diaper changes, formula fetching and what not.
What’s the point? ? I have to pay her either way, I hate tedious chores and he loves me more, he really does. So no I’m not wrestling with her. Not when he always chooses me. In fact he has an angry cry he uses to underscore his displeasure when she comes to take him from me even for a meal. To keep me humble though, whenever he spends a whole day with me, he abandons me completely on sighting his father and cries when I try to take him from him- even for a hug.
Dov is very popular with his grandparents –all hundred of them. They are always competing to be his favourite. Any sign of preference is usually quoted ten times to anyone who will listen and there’s always an unmistakable me-Tarzan pounding of chest note in the voice of the ‘favoured one’. Aside from competing with each other, they even compete, or at least try to compete, with Kofi and I. It is not uncommon to hear one or other of them say how he prefers them to me or how when he’s with them he barely notices and never misses us.
Six months ago that would have been a surefire way to guarantee you would not see him for a good while. These days, both as a result of my new found mellowness and my unshakeable security in his adoration and preference of me over all other Homo sapiens, I don’t even flinch. I just laugh. On my more smirky days, I even strike a deadpan pose and agree with whichever proud preening grandparent is pounding his//her chest, ‘you know I think you are actually right; I think you are his favourite’ - not!