Both boys have reached the stage where I’m a public embarrassment. It’s not that I dress badly (though I usually do) or speak to supermarket shelves (that’s my husband), it’s just not cool to be seen with your mum.
It’s snuck up on me. One moment I’m smug because they still want to hold my hand. The next they’re flinching because I accidentally walk too close and brush against a sleeve. And I’m apologising.
Yesterday, Teen 2 came with me for an Olympic Torch moment. We filed along the yellow lines at the edge of the road and stared at the people opposite. This is okay, I thought, lots of children here and I watched them curling around their parents, or being hoisted on and off shoulders.
Then I noticed their ages. Babies and toddlers aplenty, but the closer they got to double digits, the smaller the age groups. There was the occasional teenager, eyes darting within a blank face, but they held themselves away from their parents as if they were strangers. Just like Teen 2. Just as I did.
Me: Anyone you know?
Teen 2: Couple
Me: Anyone I know?
Teen 2: No
Me: D’you want to say hello
Teen 2: (silence)
But it’s just for others. At home it’s still hugs and jokes and there’s a mass of lines that curve across his face as he grins. We play cards each night, sometimes Scrabble, parent-child handicaps long abandoned as we try to thrash the other. And as long as we can sprawl across the floor and have a place to reach, I don’t mind what’s shown in public.