I went away on Saturday night. By myself, to a friend’s birthday party. No boys, no FOB, just me on my tod. I had a lovely time, catching up with old friends and having a good natter.
On Sunday I came home. I walked through the door to a pretty clean house and an appropriately rapturous welcome.
‘Did you have fun with dad?’ I ask the boys, at least one of them wrapped around my waist.
‘Yeah… it was great!’ boy 1 enthuses, ‘he made us an awesome supper!’
‘Yeah,’ adds boy 2, ‘we had sausages, eggs, bacon, beans on toast… a proper fry up!’ I sniff the lard-laden air in mild despair: pray tell, where’s the five-a-day goodness in that?
‘And,’ adds boy 3, ‘we stayed up really late. I went to bed after 9pm, and the others went even later than that!’ His brothers shoot him a looks-could-kill stare, but boy 3 blunders happily on, ‘Dad let us do all sorts of things that you SO wouldn’t!’
Oh really? Now this is interesting.
In the nearly 11 years I have been a MOB, I have learned that the FOB and I – whilst mostly highly compatible – do differ in some of our approaches to parenting. Differences which merely confirm my long-suspected belief that men are indeed from Mars, whilst women hail from a neighbouring, but oh-so-alien planet. Here is a list of things the FOB will willingly do for his sons, and I will not:
- He will drive right through puddles on the road just to see the splash.
- At the boys’ request, he will drive even faster through puddles on the road in order to see an even bigger splash.
- He will let them experiment with bonfires and burning sticks under the auspices of ‘learning’. The same theory also applies to any remotely dodgy activity which could be deemed even slightly scientific.
- He will embark on a boy bonding ‘team hug’ in the full knowledge that it will undoubtedly end in tears.
- He will allow, nay encourage, them to jump the waves. In the depths of winter, without spare clothes.
- He will suggest a race, regardless of state of exhaustion or frame of mind. And consequently, ‘good loser’ is not the phrase which springs to mind.
- He will watch as they re-enact ‘you’ve-been-framed-moments’ on the lawn on their bikes, reminiscing with a smile that he was exactly the same as them at their age.
And therein lies the Mars/Venus moment. Because the FOB is a boy and I am not. Things that come naturally to him, and his sons, fill me with horror and fear. Of course I want the boys to have fun and I am definitely more Tomboy than Barbie myself, but does fun really have to involve so much Savlon, mud and madness? Apparently, according to dad (and them) it does.
A FOB friend told me about his own ‘Dangerous Days’. Days when, in the absence of mum, he and his sons would daringly embark on all sorts of stuff. They’d have fondue for supper, sparring for meat with angry sticks, or make their own candles, dipping wicks, and the odd finger, into molten wax. Once, he told me gleefully, the MOB had returned home to find a climbing wall snaking its way up the entirety of their stairs.
Maybe, I think, eyeing the still-to-scour grill with resignation, maybe I got away lightly with just over-tired boys and a fatty full fry.