Tuesday 21 November 2017

Boys don't cry, fortunately mothers are allowed to

Aine O'Connor says it's the 'what if?' worries that make us fragile, and appreciating what we have keeps us strong

Aine O'Connor

IN my experience, phone calls from your child's school don't tend to announce anything good. At best, they are a base check, but more than likely it is to discuss an illness, injury or sanction. From early in his school career, our son has been the cause of a good few chats with teachers -- by and large they like him, they just wish he could make a few changes.

"But would you seriously prefer if I was the kind of kid who was brilliant in school and had no friends or social skills?" he says.

It is true to say then that I don't expect a scholarship announcement when the boy's school number flashes up, as it did last week.

Nyergh, what's he done now? I was expecting a chat about missing forms/ homework/books, but he'd fallen, his lip was cut and might need a stitch.

Oh dear, my poor baby. I wished that, instead of him being cut, I was being phoned about detention.

Beloved was closer, so he went to get the wounded boy. Number Two was home sick. We'd watched a movie and someone died. I felt the 10-year-old eyes on me, "Are you crying?" Busted. She cuddled me and told me I was a sap. Then came the phone call about the boy, we moved into Operation Rescue. I was clearly antsy. "Are you crying?" No! And then I cried.

We arrived in the doctor's surgery where we were to meet Beloved and the wounded boy. I had imagined a split lip but, when he walked in, it looked a good bit worse. His teeth had gone through his cheek, there was blood on his face and his clothes, and his mouth made Angelina Jolie look lipless. I must have let out some kind of sound for I could feel the head swivel and the 10-year-old eyes on me again. I cried.

Beloved accompanied the wounded boy for the consultation and the big fat stitches that were needed to repair the hole in his face. The girl child and I went home, where I cried.

I wouldn't mind as much if I didn't cry in such an ugly way. No delicate tears sliding down porcelain cheeks out of limpid eyes for me, it's tears and snot pouring down a big fat crumpled red face out of barely visible eyes, with a follow-up headache bonus feature.

The thoughts of your child in pain are just so upsetting but, as a friend said, there's an element too of seeing the bigger, or too big a picture. Someone will invariably point out it could have been worse, which is fair enough if you're whining, but verging on the annoying otherwise. You know it could have been worse, that's half of the reason for the tears.

Number One learned long ago that boys don't cry. We never taught him that, it floats in the ether still. Men can be whingey gits when they're not well and it's completely annoying. I did teach him that.

So he came home sporting big black stitches in his boyband face, no tears and stoic. Apparently chicks dig scars.

The head swivelled and the 10-year-old eyes were upon me. I cried.

He was OK, it could have been worse, but there are people who deal daily with their children's pain and problems. How lucky most of us are.

Times aren't great and money is crap, but as long as our loved ones are OK everything else is second.

I cried.

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