Parenthood can subject you to powerful, see-sawing emotions, pretty much on a daily basis.
At the park my son tumbled off the end of a slide and face planted at the bottom. His mum brought him home and when I saw him my emotions went way over the top. I wanted to sweep him up in my arms and take him away from danger, protect him, defend him, with my life if necessary. I lost my reason for a moment. His injuries consisted of a slightly swollen lip and a scab under his nose.
As the scab dried his hair got tangled in it. I snipped at it, not very competently, and he looked like he had whiskers. It was hard not to laugh.
Then, the scab started looking quite a lot like a Hitler moustache, which was quite disconcerting. My emotions didn’t know whether they were coming or going.
He lay on the sofa, suffering stoically, sipping squash past his swollen lip and getting special TV privileges, completely unaware of his disconcerting resemblance to one of the most evil men in history. After dinner I took him up for a bedtime story.
“Nose.” He said in the near darkness, halting me. He had said little since returning from the park. He pointed at his nose.
“Yes,” I nodded, my voice catching. “You hurt your nose didn’t you.” My parental emotions started rising again, thinking about how brave he had been, how frightened, how it could have been worse.
“You’re a brave boy.” I said, filling up. “I love you son.”
“Nose.” He repeated softly.
“Yes.” I gave him a hug.
He reached up and, confusingly, pressed his fingers into my mouth. “Eat.” He giggled.
My son, this little person who I loved more than life itself, had recovered enough from his day to pick his nose and try to feed me his bogeys, something he had never done before.
My emotions lurched about like a drunk on a bus, but then settled on… pride.