#104 Cuddle wars

Cuddles are lovely.

I’m sure Vladimir Putin, for example, would be a bit less angry if he got more of them. I’m available for the next security council summit if you’re reading Vlad. My cuddles, according to my son at least, are pretty good.

Cuddles can also be, it turns out, used as a weapon.

We’re at a delightful summer garden party. Everyone’s happy and relaxed. My son bounces towards me joyfully carrying a large, unauthorised bowl of cake and ice cream. It’s by no means his first cake of the day.

As you may know if you read this column regularly, I am a smug, annoying and largely unsuccessful food fascist. Without thinking I pluck the bowl from his pudgy hand.

As I try to carry him away from the bowl he begins to turn green. His party clothes start splitting at the seams. I trot back and forth like a startled dressage horse as the terrifying screech of an incoming missile emerges from his throat. I realise, with terrible, cold clarity, that I am about to go down in flames. Spectacularly. In public.

“Look, er, look at the pretty clouds.” I point, panicking. “Look, there’s some grass. Pretty grass. Look, it’s an inflatable lion. Roar.”

My son’s eyes roll up into his head and he writhes in my arms like a possessed goose, honking the same word over and over again. “Caaaaaaaake!!”

Every one is watching now. Judging me. At least that’s what my brain is telling me. I put him down gently and try to back away. If only I could hide from him…

His rage turns into a scream of tragic calamity. He reaches out to me and cries “Duuuuddle!”. His performance is so heart rending that it feels like not picking him up again would be tantamount to child abuse.

A minute later I’m broken. He shovels his now melted desert solemnly into his face.

Traumatized by my parental failure, I look around desperately for a can of beer.

What I’m really looking for, I know deep down, is a reassuring cuddle.

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