I love you.
I’ve never said that to another male before; I’m not usually that kind of guy. It’s a tiny bit embarrassing. But ever since we met I knew we were going to be best friends.
That day we met was a bit full on, wasn’t it? I’ll never forget it. I mean, I’ve met plenty of other interesting people along the way in noisy places where there was chaos and dudes wearing silly hats and drops of blood on the floor, but I don’t think I’ve ever met a guy as cool and crazy as you.
I love you because you’re always looking on the bright side of life. I love you because you cheer me up with your silly antics and your non-stop laughing. I love you because you never patronise me or ignore my phone calls or point and laugh at my choice of shirts and ties. I love you because your imagination is off the scale, because you’re obsessed with cars when you can’t even drive, and because you treat life as if it’s one big happy game.
But there are other more practical reasons too. For one, you look like my wife. Like yours, her face is very kind and very beautiful and having two people in the world who look like her is automatically twice as good for everyone. And I admire your work ethic too: always busy, always getting on with the next task – even though sometimes you are only halfway through the last one.
And I still love you despite the fact that sometimes you call me and insist on hanging out at a ridiculous time of the morning when I haven’t even had my coffee yet. Or sometimes in the evenings you don’t know when the party is over and you insist on doing an all-nighter – I’m getting a bit old for that kind of stuff, to be honest. I also still love you despite the fact that sometimes my wife will spend a while cooking a nice meal for you and then you’ll just rub fistfuls of it on your head and throw the rest on the floor. When we get grumpy you simply chuckle and make a noise like an owl or a dinosaur.
But it’s all good, whatever you do, because you’ve brought the old gang even closer together. Just after we met you we invited you to move in with us and now it’s the most entertaining share house we’ve ever lived in, even though your standards of tidiness really aren’t that good. And you’ve never ever done the washing up or the ironing or even your own laundry. Mate, the laundry is probably the worst: we didn’t know it was even possible to absorb that much yoghurt and Sudocrem and beans and custard into a t-shirt that’s only as big as a handkerchief. Incredible.
And you don’t tidy your room either. In fact, sometimes it feels like we have to do absolutely everything for you. So we do. And then you don’t even thank me. Actually, you try to wind me up even further by knocking my glasses off and calling me ‘Diddy’ – I’m not a hip-hop star, you know.
And I even still love you when you get a bit giddy and draw all over the screen of our new TV. Never mind, hey? It’s just a TV, after all. It may have cost a lot of money, but your artwork is far more valuable to us. I don’t get to watch my favourite programs much these days anyway. But even that’s okay – because who needs informed newsreaders when you’ve got Igglepiggle? Who needs serious drama shows when you’ve got Peppa Pig? You’ve opened up a whole new world of TV viewing for us. Thanks for that.
And I suppose you occasionally do some useful things. Such as helping out when you and I are at the hardware store together by keeping the staff from getting bored as you take all the items off the shelves and put them back in completely different places. Like me, I reckon they must love your wacky sense of fun. Things in your world don’t follow boring old logic – and maybe that’s a lesson for the rest of us.
No, none of that hilarious unpredictability matters, and neither does the extra work involved in living with you, because it’s a privilege to spend time in the company of a person so honest and open and enthusiastic about life. And with someone who appears to like me too, no matter what I do. Until you and I met, no one used to hyperventilate with joy when I came home from work each day.
Just one last thing, and please don’t tell anyone this. But sometimes when I watch you sleep I start crying a little bit because I love you so much.
So that’s all I wanted to say for now. Thanks for being my friend. And there’re no other words for it, mate, but I just love you. And I think I always will. You are everything. You are my son. You are two years old.
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*
I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves – thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.
* Gloria Steinem