So, I was never going to be the Earth Mother type, right? I tried hard when James was small – y’know, trying to fulfill the archetype – giving him the psychological safety blanket that the warm nurturing Mother dispenses. It was a bit hit and miss but then again, trying to get Adrian to act the firm but fair Sky Father didn’t exactly come off either.
'Psychology isn’t my strong point,’ he said with a shrug. No shit, Sherlock.
But now he’s a teenager (James, not Adrian) I no longer feel the necessity. In fact, I feel my most important role is to act as surrogate sibling. So I tustle with him for the last sweet in the packet; snort with him over deeply inappropriate funnies on the Internet; goad him and needle him and, yes okay, wrestle with him. Cos, see, I do think there is nothing worse than a spoiled only child so I seek to redress the balance. Our relationship seems to suit us both exceedingly well. I am a revoltingly lax and liberal parent who frequently veers into incipient madness. Which makes him, by necessity, a relatively sane, sensible and balanced child who keeps me grounded.
‘Mum!’ he said the other day, opening the glove compartment of the car, his tone indicating a mixture of shock, amusement and resignation.
‘Huh? What have I done now?’
‘You finished off the Haribos.’
I shrugged. ‘Of course I did.’
‘But they were cola bottles. You hate cola bottles.’
Which made me howl with laughter. Now Adrian thinks I shouldn’t let him call me a mess but – really – why not? It’s funny and it’s true and it’s said with love and affection. It’s part of our relationship. We banter. I poke fun at him and he pokes my upper arms. ‘You’re gonna start flying soon,’ he says with an evil cackle. Bloody nerve. I have many less than perfect bits but…
‘I don’t have bloody Bingo wings!’
‘You little bastard!’
‘So that’s where my above average intelligence comes from, huh? Cos it’s sure as hell not from either of you two.’
‘Lemme get my hands on you, you little…’
Cue Simpsons style chase round the kitchen ending up in a fight on the sofa.
‘ChildLine! ChildLine! I’ll call ChildLine!’
‘Be my guest.’ Handing him the phone. ‘Any time like now would be good to pick you up.’
‘No, that would be too easy. I’ll stay and torment you. Brouuuhaaahaaaa.’
We talk about pretty much anything; there are no taboos. I don’t put filters on his laptop – if he comes across anything weird he tends to tell me and we talk about it. So yep, we’ve talked about porn, racism, homophobia, advertising, politics, religion, smoking, drugs, alcohol, political correctness, poor taste in pop. We trade memes and yes, occasionally I commit the ultimate parental crime of posting on his FB page. We laugh – a helluva lot – and poor Adrian hasn’t a clue what we’re on about.
‘What the hell is trololol?’
‘Never mind, Dad.’ And we launch into a rendition of Carmina Burana, the misheard lyrics version.
‘An octopus! Let’s give him boots! SEND HIM TO NORTH KOREA!’
Adrian shakes his head and walks away.
And yet, sometimes, even now, he likes me to revert to Earth Mother mode. Like when we got the Ice Age trilogy last week and he wanted me to snuggle up with him and watch a DVD per evening. Funny thing – he loved them, even though it was years ago we watched the first one at the cinema. I confess I have a huge soft spot for the first one. It’s funny and smart and tugs on the heartstrings like fury. The second and third? Nah. Which made me think – how many movie series are there where the sequels and beyond are as good or better than the first? Shrek 2 was sort of okay but not a patch on 1 and, after that it just descended into a big... mess.
In fact, after…oh at least ten minutes of serious thought, I came up with only four exceptions. The Godfathers (obviously). Lord of the Rings (definitely). Star Wars (possibly). Harry Potter (patchily).
Did I miss any?
Oh and by the way, Ice Age 4: Continental Drift is out now in cinemas. God help me, James is desperate to see it. I’ll take a huge pack of Haribos, my iPod and face mask. But then again, every so often, there is a seriously funny line. Hmm. Anyone seen it? What you reckon?