Thursday, 3 May 2012

rocket man

“Shoot me like a rocket through the window,” said Snooks last night, just before we put him to bed. This is him relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep. You should hear him wide awake.

A visiting aunt remarked, after a few moments in the house recently, how ‘lively’ he was. You bet. I am used to it now - both the liveliness and the remarks. Ever since he started talking, strangers have commented on it, sometimes following up with an examination of the ingredients of his lunch bag. Clearly E numbers are to blame. A talkative child must be on a diet of sweets and fizzy drinks. What other explanation could there be?

In fact Snooks likes neither. He is not a huge sugar freak, though he likes his fair share. He is creature of habit and uses one fix at a time (at the moment Bourbon creams) and will reject any other form of treat, no matter how alluring. Horrified shoppers watch as I let him choose sweeties from the supermarket pick and mix. Little do they know that his mother and father secretly eat them at night, not admitting to one another that they do so. Luckily I have prior knowledge of the ones Snooks has licked and spat back into the bag. I leave those for the Engineer.

So his exuberance is not man made. It is just him and while I find it adorable, I realise most others don’t. There is very little down time with Snooks. He is either climbing over your head or asleep. It is not aggressive or angry, just excited. He is the embodiment of high on life. He tells practical strangers that he loves them; he hugs children he hardly knows; he tells the teachers they are great. It leaves me holding my breath (I notice I am finally starting to turn grey at the temples and I put it down to this one single issue) waiting for the world to tell him to pipe down.

And so it is that when I glimpse his moments of quiet tenderness, I try to nurture, capture and record them in case they disappear altogether. And Snooks’ quiet tenderness seems to have found a home in the world of lovely sparkling fairy stuff. Now I know it’s tempting to make something of this, whether in jest or not, about gender and sexual orientation. But I am not going to do that. I have noticed Snooks start to be drawn to pixie dust and fairies, to dancing princesses and glittery shoes and I love that he responds to beauty, however unrealistic it might be. He can name many different flowers too and stops to observe them as we pass (a florist actually offered him a Saturday job this morning when he complimented her on her geraniums).

I have also noticed his self-imposed restraint as the cues learned from school that he must not follow this path into fairyland hit their mark. I can see him quietly watching the lovely dancing ladies on the telly, knowing not to say too much. I firmly believe that all little boys, given the chance, would love a go at dancing in a princess dress. Who wouldn’t? We’ve started getting there with the girls, removing gender stereotyping from their play, though judging by the pink tsunami of clothes and toys available for girls I am not sure it has worked. But I don’t think the same has been done for boys. I know it’s the prerogative of high profile gay men to say they longed to dress up with the girls as a child, but my guess is that it is only gay men who admit to it. Anyway Snooks can be and wear what he likes, if it helps him to express himself authentically. At the moment I get to wear the sparkly shoes he picks out for me while he gets shot through the window like a rocket. But if he ever wants to swap I am up for it.

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