“I Love you, Mum. You’re beautiful.”
Orlando Thompson (My Son)
It has been seven weeks since I last read my son a bedtime story. My three-year-old son, my first born, has put me in the time out corner since returning to the workforce. I’m copping a lot of “ I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to dad”, or “I don’t want you to read me a book, I want dad.”
In the beginning, I thought it was a bonus: a few nights off of having to read every single page now that “one, two miss a few” no longer flies. I was catching a break after a long day to just sit while Daddy took over the bedtime routine.
I feel plenty rested now and I’d like my spot back on the read team. If I’m being honest, my son is the one losing out because I’m much better at reading bedtime stories than his Dad is (so take that tiny child).
I could put it down to the fact that he is a boy and maybe he is craving extra one on one time with his Dad, I could do that. I could make myself feel better by taking myself out of the equation altogether, convincing myself this is purely a natural course in a young boys life to want to spend more time with the male figure in the house.
I am not going to do that.
I wouldn’t believe it even if I did.
That is not to say that my husband isn’t a wonderful father and blah blah blippity blah, this is about me. My son is punishing me for abandoning him and, being the clever little cookie he is (which he definitely got from his father), he has taken to revenge (which he most likely got from me) and has decided to cut me the deepest, by taking away our bedtime stories. He’s proving I’m replaceable. He is winning.
He has won.
Touche’ tiny child.
I know he loves me (who wouldn’t). When he looks up from what he is doing, whether it be eating dinner, playing blocks or completing another superhero mission in the backseat of the car, he always makes time to randomly stop what he is doing and say “I love you Mum”. When he sees a flower, he picks it, for me, and I don’t take those things for granted, but as he will learn, sooner rather than later, I will absolutely not accept being excluded unless it is I that is excluding myself.
So each night as the boys read their chosen bedtime story and stink the room out with their testosterone (because boys smell), I have been sitting on the couch scanning my social media (not crying into a bowl of ice-cream about the fact that my first born, my only son has forgotten I exist). I flick through posts of mothers cuddling sons, sons picking flowers for mothers, gender reveals (you know when you break up with someone and all you hear is ‘Hey there Delilah’ over and over on the radio) and I realize that the only way to get my spot back on the right side of my little boys bed, the only way to narrate to him the way all good books should be narrated (with on-point impersonations and sound effects, obviously) is to buy back his love.
In enters…Elf on the shelf.
Elf, which Orlando has decided to name, Elf (his deficiency of imagination could only be the result of a sudden lack of awesomeness at story time) has managed to score me some brownie points (yay me). I’m allowed to talk about Elf; bribe him with Elf; surprise him each day with Elf’s new “shelf” position, and guess who gets to read the Elf on shelf book each night now?
Drum roll, please…
Dad gets to read the book!
I feel like I’ve been put on the shelf (insert tiny orchestra and cute little elves weeping).
P.S Note how I’m NOT in this picture. Yeah, exactly.