As Trou got older he became less easy to amuse and keener for company other than my own, the prospect of two months shuttling between his parents homes seemed grim, and so summer camps, sports camps, days spent at friends' houses, nights spent camping in tents on friends' lawns were added and helped maintain his equilibrium during those times when he was with one or other of us. Around this time he also declared that he would like to decide how he split up his time during the holidays. We agreed. I admit I was nervous that he would prefer to spend more time in his fathers' rather more carefree household, but he still managed to split his time very evenly, just in shorter bursts, three days with Foie, the next three with me (a fact that impacted rather inconveniently on Foie Gras' love life, an aspect that I must admit gave me a certain amount of grim satisfaction).
This summer, Trou's main interest has been (very naturally) in spending as much time as possible with his musical girl (who he has been seeing ever since their date on valentines date this year). This interest coincided with a similar one on the part of my eldest niece Oeuf 1 and her boyfriend, so Coq Au Vin and I have basically spent the holidays playing the cool, discreet, understanding but still very much present parent, a role perfected by our mother when we were in our teens.
Having your child's love interest come and hang out in your home was something that our wise mother put into play. Knowing full well that eager teenage hearts (and raging teenage hormones) may lead her children to unsuitable and unsafe rendezvous, my mother offered us the chance to bring our boyfriends into our home for a weekend (and during the holidays even more frequent) visits. We were, of course, restricted to the TV room or verandah areas, but, having provided food and drink she would obligingly make herself scarce, popping in discreetly now and again just to make sure that things were proceeding in a manner suited to at least a PG 13 rating. She was very discreet, too discreet in fact; once when a love interest and I were engaged in a serious lip lock we broke out of it only to realize that my mother had entered the room, popped a freshly made pineapple upside down cake on the table and exited all while we were otherwise engaged. The thought still makes me blush.
Our mothers' "whatever happens, it is better that it happens in the safety of my house" philosophy was a winning one and so Coq Au Vin and I adopted it ourselves. Coq Au Vin went first and called me to report.
Me: What are they doing?
Coq Au: I don't know! They are in the TV lounge. They have popcorn and iced tea. I left them to it.
Me: Left them to it? Go and peep!
Coq Au: I will not!
Five minutes later she called me back.
Coq Au: She is sitting with her head on his shoulder, they are holding hands. They both had their eyes on the screen.
Though I had met Trou's musical girl a few times I hadn't really spent much time with her and I admit I was somewhat apprehensive – what if I disliked her? However, I knew this was beside the point and spoke to Foie Gras about adopting the 'better in my house' policy as well.
Me: I think it's a safer arrangement all-round. Agreed?
Foie Gras: Of course.
Me: But you allow it only on the weekends so that you are also somewhere in the house. They can't come over when you are at work.
Foie Gras: But I just installed the condom vending machine in the bathroom!
Me: I am being serious
Foie Gras: What makes you think I am not? Very useful device.
Annoying the ex-wife. Apparently, that's one that never gets old.
Not that I am seriously worried about what Trou and the musical girl will get up to at this point in time primarily because my son seems to be satisfactorily intimidated by her father. Having met the man I can't say I am surprised.
Musical girl: Aunty Bouche, this is my father
Me: (Craning my head so I can meet his eyes) Hi! Nice to meet you!
Mountain dad: Hello. I trust you will be keeping a close eye on them?
Me: (nettled) Please don't worry, I don't intend to spy on them but I will check in on them. Am sure everything will be fine.
Mountain dad sighed and his shoulders sagged.
Mountain dad: I am sorry. Musical girls' mother and I split up a few years ago and she lives abroad. She says I can't look after her well enough now that she is in her teens.
He looked utterly miserable. I felt really sorry for the guy.
Me: I understand completely. I will be at home the entire time and when they are at my ex-husband's he will be around too. We are fond of musical girl and will look after her.
Mountain dad: And Trou is a nice young man. Thank you. I feel that she is safe in your hands.
Gulp. Yeah. No pressure. Note to self: Tell Foie Gras to avoid any ill-timed jokes. In fact, tell him to avoid all jokes in general.
Overall, chaperoning the kids hasn't really been all that difficult, and I think a nice balance of privacy and interaction has been achieved #coolmumgoals
My presence was especially welcome in the lead up to Comic-Con since they wanted to work on their cosplay for the event. This initially caused some dispute because Trou had his heart set on going as the Joker to her Harley Quinn, but the musical girl said that her father would never allow her to wear the outfit (damn straight). Finally (and with very teenage soppiness) they decided to pay tribute to their 6 month anniversary by going as Deadpool and Vanessa (the movie was their first date). Trou's best friend was willing to lend him his Deadpool outfit and the musical girl turned to me for help with hers. Having told her that she must wear jeans (as opposed to mini skirt and garters. Yikes), I lent her one of my more
Vanessa-esque tops and then got to work sorting out her hair (easy to do since the child has lovely locks) and sticking on temporary tattoos. I also did her make up. As luck would have it I even found a red and white checked jacket and Macaron kindly sewed fleece onto the collar (way too hot to wear it but a nice touch for the innumerable selfies and pictures they required).
My sisters were amused at my efforts to be helpful. And as always, highly suspicious of my motives.
Macaron: You are being very nice. Setting a precedent eh?
Me: What does that mean?
Coq Au: Well, you know....'see how nice I am to your girlfriend, now follow my example and be nice to my boyfriend'. That kind of precedent
Not my intention...but good point! Trou has been introduced to the Man and dignified handshakes have taken place but apart from an "Oh hi Man, let me call Ammi. AMMIIIIIIII" there really hasn't been much interaction between them.
The fact is I have rather enjoyed having the Man to myself. To revel in the love and romance without having to share. To live in that bubble without too much reality seeping in. Goodness knows reality will come, so what's the hurry? And what if bringing him into the family jinxes things? Will making it official lessen it in some way? And what if (unlikely as it is) someone I love doesn't love him? Someone important like Trou? Or my mother or my sisters? It feels like such a chance to take.
I feel like I have barely admitted my own feelings, do I really have to deal with everyone else's?
No, not yet.
A new school year awaits, and so far 2016 has been a darned good year for Trou and myself; first love for him, a new love for me and a summer that allowed us both to enjoy those loves so much better.
Here's to both of us getting to do more of the same for a lot longer.