When I am apart from my boy, I am never 100% comfortable.
At times I do a pretty good impression of someone being calm and relaxed when he’s not around, but I’m not truly breathing easy unless Max is with me.
I think it is a common feeling for parents, but my boy’s mere presence brings about a type of calm I simply don’t experience without him.
So when he’s in the care of others, it would be normal of me to miss him? Right?
Well, simply put I do, but my dilemma has always been about telling him so.
I believe it is healthy for us to spend quality time apart, as much as it is together. During the recent school half-term holiday Max spent a few days at the seaside with his grandparents.
He loves it.
He gets time with people that are more like the man from Del Monte than me, plus he’s by the sea, plus there’s a growing gang of kids on their holiday site, plus late nights, plus crabbing on tap, plus, plus, plus.
I get time to myself, that I used last week for a mixture of work and top notch R & R with my lovely girlfriend.
Positive stuff all round.
I always leave Max telling him if he needs me to simply ask his grandparents to call.
He rarely does. And when I call to check on him, his usually busy building a den, in the sea, climbing a mountain of playing a game of football.
But I’m really only satisfying MY OWN yearning to know he’s okay.
And it’s similar when it comes to telling him I miss him.
“I’ve missed you, Dad.” Max said when I came to pick him up.
“I’ve missed you too,” I replied “But I wasn’t going to tell you.”
“Why did you then?” Max asked.
I had to think for a minute, or a few seconds anyway, and I eventually said something like that while I wanted him to know that he’s always wanted and missed, my reluctance to tell him is because I didn’t want him worrying about me while he’s off spending time with others. Or to have my potential for missing him, influence his choices in the future.
It really shouldn’t ever be a child’s responsibility to worry about their adult relatives, and I think potentially – in part – saying ‘I miss you’ imparts a little guilt and influence on that party.
Like any parenting responsibility it’s about balance, and I don’t want Max growing up thinking I am happier without him, or that I am ‘dumping’ him with people.
He needs to know he what he means to me, but without that becoming onerous on him.
You could say I am over-thinking this, and that a child doesn’t think in the same way, but revealingly on our journey home, Max explained that he doesn’t like to call me as it reminds him I’m not there, and he can get a little sad and upset.
I asked him if he’d rather I didn’t call when he was away, and somewhat hesitantly, probably a little worried of hurting me, he said that it was probably better that I didn’t.
I’m sure my calls and annoying interruption to what he’s up to play a part in him forming that opinion too, but he’s a genuine little fella (it runs in the family), and one who wouldn’t say something like that unless he meant it.
So, perhaps, just perhaps, it is as complex an issue as I’ve made it.